SHP File Extension

Have a problem opening a .SHP file? We collect information about file formats and can explain what SHP files are. Additionally we recommend software suitable for opening or converting such files.

What is the .SHP file type?

Shortened from 'Shape,' the .shp filename extension stands for the ESRI Shapefile (.shp) file type and the associated proprietary format developed by the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI). ESRI is a renowned provider of Geographic Information System (GIS) solutions, and ESRI's GIS file formats have since long become a de facto industry standard. Among such is the shapefile (.shp) format devised for exchanging geospatial data and natively supported in ArcGIS and ESRI's other software.

A shapefile stores a layer of geometric shapes like lines, points, or polygons tied to a system of geographic coordinates. It is a compound dataset comprised of at least three files: .shp, .shx, and .dbf. The main .shp file holds geometry data indexed in the .shx file and supplemented by attributes and their values in the .dbf dBASE database. Widely used for all kinds of maps and map features, the shapefile (.shp, .shx, .dbf) format is fully supported by a host of GIS and CAD applications, thanks to ESRI's having published its full specification.

In a different context, the .shp extension represents the old 3D Studio Shape (.shp) file type/format once used by 3D Studio, an ancient MS-DOS 3D modeling program. Such .shp files can be imported as spline objects in Autodesk's 3ds max and possibly other 3D tools.

Software to open or convert SHP files

You can open SHP files with the following programs: 

Popular Formats

Video Tutorials