ViewMeta—A Free Viewer for Windows Metafiles and Enhanced Metafiles

Ciarán Ó Duibhín

This program is designed for viewing Windows metafiles (.wmf) and enhanced metafiles (.emf).  These formats may contain vector graphics, which are graphics of infinite resolution which can be magnified without limit and viewed. Many viewer programs for bitmap graphics claim to handle .wmf and .emf files too, but often all they do is convert the metafile to a bitmap, and work with that. But the resolution of the bitmap conversion will be constrained by the available memory, and it cannot therefore be magnified indefinitely, as a vector graphic should. Moreover, some viewers do not even try to use available memory, but are content to convert to a bitmap which will fit the screen without scrolling.  It was the lack of free or reasonably priced viewers to read a large vector graphic (actually, a family tree), and to zoom and scroll around it, which led me to write ViewMeta.

Viewmeta CANNOT:

If time permits, the program may be enhanced in the future.

No support is provided with using the program, but if you have any comments or suggestions, I am interested to hear them.

Download here

Note added in 2012: for a number of years now, the free general graphics viewer IrfanView has been able to display .emf files at any desired size, by magnifying the vector graphics and then converting to bitmap (rather than, as previously, by converting to bitmap and then magnifying, which severely limited the obtainable resolution). There is now no advantage in using ViewMeta, and I recommend the use of IrfanView to display .emf files. BUT PLEASE READ ON …

May 2014: It is necessary to qualify the above note. Contrary to what I wrote there, IrfanView still converts an .emf file to a bitmap and performs magnification on that bitmap. The size in pixels of the initial bitmap depends on the screen resolution, and it seems to be just the general increase in screen resolution which has resulted in improved display of .emf files in IrfanView in recent years. Also IrfanView has added an option "Use resample for fitting" to the View / Display options menu, and this option is set on by default, but it does not appear to have much effect on the display of .emf files. If the display is still unsatisfactory, a trick which may help is to select "Fit window to image", enlarge the drawing, select "Fit images to window", and select (from the Open menu) "Reopen". However this procedure cannot enlarge the image beyond the point where it fills the screen. In summary, this means that there are .emf files for which ViewMeta may still give better results.

Other free .emf viewers for Windows which have appeared since ViewMeta include Free WMF Viewer and EMF Explorer. I have not tried either of these and cannot comment further on them.

Ciarán Ó Duibhín
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