Using search in ArcGIS
ArcGIS includes the ability to search for GIS content and to put the results to work quickly—for example, by searching for and adding a search result to your map or by inserting the found item into a geoprocessing operation.
Search in ArcGIS is accessed through the Search window. The Search window is also used to configure and manage how search is used—for example, to identify the file folders, geodatabases, and servers that you want to search against.
This topic provides an overview for how to use search and also for how to configure search in ArcGIS.
Preparing to use search
Ensure that you have set your search properties before using the search. To do this, you will identify the set of folders on your local computer or network as well as any geodatabase connections that you want to search against.
See Reviewing and setting your indexing options below for more guidance.
Updating and maintaining your search index
Since you are periodically creating new datasets and modifying or replacing existing ones, it's possible that your search index will not reflect the latest status of your contents.
You can use the Index/Search Options dialog box to control how often your index is rebuilt or to re-create it on demand. This will help when searching in ArcGIS workspace folders and geodatabases that undergo a lot of change.
See Reviewing and setting your indexing options below for more guidance.
Searching for items
Use the Search window to search for items as follows:
- Open the Search window in ArcGIS by clicking the Search window icon , or clicking Windows > Search on the main menu.
- This will display the Search window in which you can search for GIS items and review the results.
Viewing and working with search results
Search results are displayed in the results window. For example:
You can perform the following operations with search results:
- Clicking on a search result item name will open it. For example, you can click on a map document name to open it in ArcMap; clicking on a dataset name will add it to ArcMap as a new layer; clicking on a geoprocessing tool will open it for execution; and so on. Note:
It is easy to inadvertently add new data to your map by clicking on a layer or dataset name in your search results.
- Hover the mouse over a search result snippet (i.e., the short phrase underneath each item name) to view its item description in a pop-up window.
- Click on the result snippet to open the item description. This is often a useful place, not just for viewing item information, but to make notes and updates to the description. For example, you may have found the perfect dataset to support a particular task. You can capture that as a note in the description.
- Click on the path/link to navigate to that item in your Catalog window. For example, when you find the relevant geoprocessing tool, you can click on the link to see in which toolbox that tool is located.
Useful search tips
Here are some useful things to think about when you use ArcGIS search.
- Use search categories (All, Maps, Data, Tools) to narrow your search results.
- Use tags when you are documenting your items. Tags can be very useful when searching.
- Use wild cards (*) when searching. Typing part of a word or phrase followed by * will aid in searches—for example, you could enter "temp*" when searching for "templates."
- It's good to understand what folders, geodatabases, and servers you are searching against. See the section below to set up ArcGIS search properties on your computer.
- It's often useful to edit the item description as part of viewing search results. Clicking on the snippet so a search result will display its Item Description. You can then edit that description as part of the search experience. See Documenting Items in the Catalog window for more information.
- The ArcGIS Search window provides other helpful hints. Click on Help in the Search window to learn more.
Identifying what to search
ArcGIS search has a few important ways to target your search, which are described here.
- Performing a local search—On the main menu, you can identify that you want to perform a local search or an enterprise search. Choosing Local Search means that you want to search your computer and the ArcGIS connections that you have set in your Catalog window.
- Performing an enterprise search—Choose Enterprise to perform an enterprise wide search using search services published using ArcGIS Server. You can add search services from the search options dialog.
- Performing an ArcGIS Online search—Choose ArcGIS Online to search for content on ArcGIS online and items in your workspace (i.e. My Content). To login into ArcGIS online from the desktop, click File > Sign-in.
Reviewing and setting your indexing options
You will need to manage the search properties for ArcGIS in the Indexing/Search Options dialog box.
This is where you can establish the set of folders, GIS connections and ArcGIS Server Search Services to search against. In addition, you can specify when and how often your search index is maintained for ArcGIS.
Building a search index is important so that your search results are fast and accurate. Using default settings will typically serve most users very well. However, you can use this dialog box to modify certain settings. For example:
- To identify which folders and connections to index
- To set how often the search index is updated for new items
- To say how frequently you want to re-create the item index
You can also manually control immediate indexing to update, pause, or re-index your ArcGIS contents.
- Open the Index/Search Options dialog box by clicking the icon on the ArcGIS Search window.
- In the Index/Search Options dialog box, you can review and set the folders and other ArcGIS connections that you want to index for searching. You can review the current connections in the Register Folders and Server Connections box. Use the Add and Remove buttons to manage this list of connections. These are used to establish connections to a number of workspace folders, geodatabases, toolboxes, GIS servers, and other resources. Here is a list of connections you can manage for ArcGIS search:
- Folder Connections These are any additional workspace folders to which you have established a connection. You'll see their contents listed under each folder.
- Personal geodatabases Used to organize datasets in a file geodatabase.
- Toolboxes This node is used to organize and access geoprocessing tools.
- Interoperability Connections Used to access a number of special data formats in the optional Data Interoperability extension product. This is used to access Safe Software's FME product for GIS data interoperability.
- Database Server Connections Used to connect as the administrator to geodatabases that are stored and managed in SQL Server Express.
- Database Connections Used to make user connections to ArcSDE geodatabases in Oracle, SQL Server, SQL Server Express, IBM DB2, Informix, and PostGreSQL.
- GIS Server Connections Used to make connections to ArcGIS servers, ArcIMS servers, and a number of OGC WMS and WFS services.
- On the Search tab, you can review and set ArcGIS Search Services in the Register Enterprise Search Services box. Use the Add and Remove buttons to manage the search service list of connections.