At college we use ArcGIS Desktop 10, but that does not function on my Mac so I have QGIS there instead.

I want to do my exercises with QGIS, but in ArcGIS Desktop we use .lyr files with ArcMap and .lyrx files with ArcGIS Pro, and they are not supported by QGIS.

Does anyone know, how I can connect the *.lyr files to my *.shp files to use them on my Mac with QGIS?


5 Answers 5


You need to convert the .lyr files to SLD. Then they should render fine in QGIS. Unfortunately, Converting ArcGIS layer style to Styled Layer Descriptor (SLD) file? requires that the conversion be done from within ArcGIS Desktop. Perhaps a classmate could help you by doing the conversion.

Another option, which I have not tested, would be to use this Arc2SLD converter. Perhaps another user can comment on that program's usability.


@ndawson, one of the core developers for QGIS, has created an experimental plugin for QGIS 3.2 or greater which could convert .lyr files:



Esri's lyr format is binary, but the new lyrx format is readable and parseble.

We are working on a plugin to use *lyrx files in QGIS qlyrx
Feel free to contribute with issues/examples/qa/dev/etc.

If you have access to ArcGIS Pro, you can convert lyr file to the new lyrx format.

Deprecated: please use the plugin
I've published a util webpage that enables lyrx-qml conversion. It supports simple and hatch fills, outline properties and translates lyrx units to qml units. http://mindthemap.info/util/index.html

  • 1
    The mindthemap website appears to be non-functional, or at best confusing. Using it, I can browse to my local .lyrx file, but then what? There's no "convert" button. Instructions, please.
    – Stu Smith
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 18:50

This little software could do the work http://wald.intevation.org/projects/arcmap2sld/%20. Open your ArcMap project with only the layer + layer symbology you want to convert, then double click on ArcGIS_SLD_Converter.exe in \ArcMap2SLD_Code_1.4.0\stp\ArcGIS_SLD_Converter.exe put the location of your output.


Just found and used this plugin, SLYR Community Edition, which you can find in QGIS Plugin Manager. It lets you convert .lyr to .qml, that you can then load as a style on the symbology tab.

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