How Do I View Lidar Data

One of the things that most people when they first starting out in lidar is how do we actually view lidar point clouds. So in this article I wanted to start to provide a list to people so that we have resources on how to view point clouds.


This is a great online web view for lidar data.  it can be a little slow, especially if you the file is large and viewing with high resolution.  This is very handy if you need to inspect or who off your data and you don’t have a lidar viewer handy.   It runs on any platform right in the browser.

Check it out.


This is my personal favorite.  It is easy to use and provides the best 3D visualization.  However this is just a point cloud viewer and can do advanced things such as side views and measurements.  The Quick Terrain Reader is the free companion application to Quick Terrain Modeler. The Quick Terrain Reader is capable of opening pre-built digital elevation models (DEMs) and point clouds and allows users to freely move through the terrain in a fast and intuitive way. Workplaces can contain 3D models, overlaid color imagery, vectors, markers, routes, movies, and various annotations.

To try a the free version click here…


FugroViewer is a robust, easy-to-use software designed to help users make the most of their geospatial data. This software is designed for use with various types of raster- and vector-based geospatial datasets, including data from photogrammetric, LiDAR, and IFSAR  such as .las,.laz,xyz,.tif,.hdr,.img.

Unlike many other free viewers, what really caught my eye was the profiling capability of the software. You can establish a transect and specify the width of the transect. The width enhances the number of points accumulated to make the profile view. This is a must-have on my desktop when inspecting lidar data.

Click here to try out Fugroviewer


Cloud Compare is a 3D point cloud processing software and is free.  CloudCompare provides a set of basic tools for manually editing and rendering 3D points clouds and triangular meshes. It also offers various advanced processing algorithms, among which methods for performing:

  • projections
  • registration
  • distance computation
  • statistics computation
  • geometric features estimation

Being this software is open source and a collaborative project it is not particularly user-friendly.  However, it does have a lot of functionality once you know what you are doing.  Not for a beginner but definitely for DIY’rs.

Check it out here.


Want to have your own viewer on your webpage.  This option is totaly DIY or for those that want a project.

Potree is a WebGL based viewer for large point clouds. The project evolved as a Web-based viewer from the Scanopy desktop point cloud renderer. It will continue to be free and open-source with a FreeBSD license to enable anyone to view, analyze and publicly share their large datasets. Visit for more information.

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