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:

  1. Open the Search window in ArcGIS by clicking the Search window icon Search Window, or clicking Windows > Search on the main menu.
  2. This will display the Search window in which you can search for GIS items and review the results.
    Searching for map templates in ArcGIS

Viewing and working with search results

Search results are displayed in the results window. For example:

Viewing item descriptions
Hovering on the map document displays its item description.

You can perform the following operations with search results:

Useful search tips

Here are some useful things to think about when you use ArcGIS search.

Identifying what to search

ArcGIS search has a few important ways to target your search, which are described here.

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:

You can also manually control immediate indexing to update, pause, or re-index your ArcGIS contents.

  1. Open the Index/Search Options dialog box by clicking the icon on the ArcGIS Search window.
    Opening the Index/Search Options dialog box
  2. 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.
    The Index tab for ArcGIS search
    Here is a list of connections you can manage for ArcGIS search:
    • Folder Connections 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 Geodatabase Used to organize datasets in a file geodatabase.
    • Toolboxes Toolboxes This node is used to organize and access geoprocessing tools.
    • Interoperability Connections 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 Connections for administering geodatabases) Used to connect as the administrator to geodatabases that are stored and managed in SQL Server Express.

      Learn more about administrator tasks for ArcSDE geodatabases

    • Database Connections Making a database connection to enterprise DBMS's Used to make user connections to ArcSDE geodatabases in Oracle, SQL Server, SQL Server Express, IBM DB2, Informix, and PostGreSQL.
    • GIS Server Connections Connecting to GIS servers Used to make connections to ArcGIS servers, ArcIMS servers, and a number of OGC WMS and WFS services.
  3. 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.
    The Search Options tab for ArcGIS Search