Does anyone know how to open .lyr files in QGIS without having access to ArcGIS or to Arc2SLD?

Perhaps there is a plugin or open source program that could do it.

  • The answer you directed me to doesn't answer the question as I don't have access to ArcGIS or Arc2SLD.
    – QGISUser
    Nov 24, 2015 at 3:02
  • I'll run it past our IT department, but if possible id like to find a way of doing it via QGIS.
    – QGISUser
    Nov 24, 2015 at 22:52

1 Answer 1


It is not possible for QGIS to directly read .lyr files as they are in a binary format. QGIS is designed to read .qlr files as they are in an XML format.

This post gives a nice description detailing the main differences between the two file types. The following is a summary quoted from the link provided:

  • So can you use a lyr with QGIS?


  • Can you use a qlr with ArcGIS?


  • Can you define symbology in ArcGIS from a lyr file?

    Yes! Just import your symbology and choose your lyr and if the attribution matches you are good.

  • Can you define symbology in QGIS from a qlr file?

    No – but that is what qml and sld files are for. Save those from your property menu and you can use those to symbolize other data.

  • Can you open a lyr in a text editor and see how it works?

    NO…I think the greatest shortcoming of lyr is this.

  • Can you open a qlr in a text editor and see how it works?

    YES…it’s an XML based file.

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