Importing Files

Inkscape is capable of importing many types of vector and bitmap graphics files. It can also import text. Some types are handled internally by GDK (ani, bmp, gif, ico, icns, jpeg, pcx, png, pnm, ras, tga, tiff, wbmp, xbm, xpm). Other types require additional programs, listed under the relevant entries below. One special feature allows importing images from the Open Clip Art Library, a free source of clip art. This is discussed at the end of this section.

Two methods exist for importing files into an already open document. The first is to use your window manager to drag a file and drop it onto an open Inkscape window. The second is to use the File icon Import... (Ctrl+I) dialog. These work for both bitmap and SVG files.

[Note]Bitmap Location

By default bitmap images are not stored inside the Inkscape SVG file. Only references are stored. If you move your bitmap files, the references will be broken. You can embed the images inside the SVG file by using the Embed Images extension. See the section called “Embed All Images” in Chapter 21, Extensions.

[Note]Bitmap Editing

New in v0.47

You can edit bitmap images with an external program by doing a Right Mouse Click on the image and selecting the Edit Externally... option. The external program specified in the Bitmap section of the Inkscape Preferences dialog will open with the image loaded. Inkscape will update the image if any changes are saved (updates will happen any time the linked bitmap file changes, not just when the editing was initiated from Inkscape). Note, you can not edit an embedded image file with an external program.

[Warning]SVG Bitmap Support

The SVG standard only requires renderers to support PNG, JPEG, and SVG formats. The other formats that Inkscape supports internally due to GDK (ani, bmp, ico, pcx, pnm, ras, tga, tiff, wbmp, xbm, xpm) render fine in Inkscape, but Inkscape will not embed them in the SVG file. Other renderers will most likely not support external files of these types referenced from within an SVG file. Your safest bet is to use another program such as Gimp to convert these formats to JPEG or PNG.


A number of import types (CDR, PLT, SK1, and WMF) use the program UniConverter. Inkscape includes this program in the Windows build. As of Uniconvertor version 1.1.4 text is not imported. It is planned that Uniconvertor version 1.1.5 will handle text.

Note for Fedora Users: The executable uniconv was renamed to uniconvertor to avoid a naming conflict. You can add a symbolic link from /usr/bin/uniconv to /usr/bin/uniconvertor (if you don't already have a binary with that name) or you can edit files such as cdr_input.inx and in the share/inkscape/extensions directory.

[Tip]In Case of Failure

If importing fails to work, check the file extension-errors.log located on Linux at ~/.inkscape/ (v0.46) or ~/.config/inkscape/ (v0.47) and on Windows at %userprofile%\Application Data\Inkscape\. Any missing programs (dependencies) will be listed.

File types supported (a * indicates the author has not tested the file import):

Open Clip Art Library

The command File icon Import From Open Clip Art Library opens a search dialog that connects to the Open Clip Art Library website, a source of free clip art. The dialog allows searching for drawings that match descriptive words. Previews of files are shown in a window on the right side of the dialog.

Import from Open Clip Art Library dialog.
Import From Open Clip Art Library dialog. An example of searching for a flower is shown.

Unfortunately, at the moment, only PNG files can be imported even if a matching SVG files exist. You may have to set the server name ( in the Import/Export section of the Inkscape Preferences dialog. In the future, export to the library will also be supported.