What is the difference between Layer Definition File (qlr) and QGIS Layer Style File (qml)? Which one is recommended?

I have only used qlr so far. It seems store all the data displayed in the "properties" of the layer.

1 Answer 1


This question is answered in a blog post by Nathan Woodrow: What are all these QGIS file types? Why do I need them

Here's a summary:

  • The QML file (.qml) contains style information

  • The Layer Definition file (.qlr) contains a layer source pointer + style information

So you can drag a QLR file into a project, and it adds the layer with all its saved styling.

A QML file isn't tied to any specific data source.


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