Many files you import into Visio drawings as graphic or OLE objects are stored as MicrosoftÂ® WindowsÂ® metafiles, an exchange format used to store vector-based graphics. Raster-based graphics from BMP and DIB files are stored as bitmaps. You can edit both metafiles and bitmaps on the drawing page much like other shapes by moving, rotating, resizing, and adding text, geometry, or custom properties. And you can create a master from a metafile or bitmap. However, to provide additional editing capabilities, you can convert metafiles (but not bitmaps) to Visio shapes.
Importing Graphic Images
The simplest way to bring graphic images into a Visio drawing is to insert, or import, them. The result is a graphic object in either metafile or bitmap format, depending on the format of the original image.
To import a graphic image
- On theÂ Insert menu, point toÂ Picture, and then clickÂ From File. Select the file you want to import and then clickÂ Open.
- The image is imported as a new graphic object in metafile format (if the original graphic was vector-based) or bitmap format (if the original graphic was a BMP or DIB file).
You can also open graphic files directly by clickingÂ Open on theÂ File menu, and then choosing the appropriate format forÂ Files of type.
For most files you import, an import settings dialog box is displayed, where you can specify how you want the imported file to appear in a drawing. For example, if you’re importing a file in PCT format, you can specify whether to retain gradients and background and how to translate colors.
To find out if an imported graphic object is a metafile or a bitmap
- Right-click the object, point toÂ Format, and then clickÂ Special. The dialog box indicatesÂ Type: Metafile orÂ Type: Bitmap.
Because the data can go through up to two translations before it appears in the Visio drawingÂ—one when you export from the other program, and one when you import into the Visio drawingÂ—the picture might not look exactly the way it does in the original program.
With some vector-based graphics, such as Adobe Illustrator (.ai) and Encapsulated PostScript (.eps) files, lines might appear jagged in the Visio drawing. You may get better results with these file formats if you convert them to Visio shapes.
Tip You can import files in more than 20 formats. For a complete list, clickÂ Open on theÂ File menu or clickÂ Picture on theÂ Insert menu, and see theÂ Files of type list.
Editing Imported Metafiles and Bitmaps
You can work with imported metafiles and bitmaps, as well as OLE objects, in much the same way you do any Visio shape. Type to add text, use the drawing tools to rotate and resize objects, and so on. You can apply a line style to change the appearance of the object’s border. If the object includes some empty space, such as a background, you can also apply a fill style, color, or pattern.
Bitmap images have additional properties that you can set via the ShapeSheetÂ® window to control brightness, contrast, and other attributes.
To access image properties
- Select the imported bitmap.
- On theÂ Window menu, clickÂ Show ShapeSheet.
- In the ShapeSheet window, scroll to see the Image Properties section.
- Note If the Image Properties section is not visible, right-click the ShapeSheet window, clickÂ View Sections, select theÂ Image Properties check box, and then clickÂ OK.
Converting Imported Metafiles to Shapes
You can convert a graphic object in metafile format to a group or individual Visio shapes that can be formatted. Convert a metafile when you want to edit its component objects like individual shapes, apply fill color and patterns, or create intershape dependencies by writing formulas. Typically, you would convert a metafile to a group so that you could move it as a unit; however, if that’s not an issue, convert it directly to shapes.
Note If a metafile contains a bitmap as a component, it cannot be converted. Bitmaps cannot be converted to Visio geometry because, in a bitmap, Visio cannot determine what part of the object is a line, what is text, and so on.
To convert a metafile to a Visio group
- Select the metafile.
- On theÂ Shape menu, point toÂ Grouping, and then clickÂ Convert to Group.
To convert a metafile to Visio shapes
- Select the metafile.
- On theÂ Shape menu, point toÂ Grouping, and then clickÂ Ungroup.
To convert a shape back to a metafile
- Select the shape, and then press CTRL+C to copy it.
- On theÂ Edit menu, clickÂ Paste Special, and then clickÂ Picture (Enhanced Metafile).