What mosaicking tools are available in ArcGIS?

ArcGIS offers two methods for mosaicking raster data, either as a virtual mosaic using a mosaic dataset, or by permanently appending (mosaicking) raster datasets together. A mosaic dataset is a data model within the geodatabase. It creates a mosaicked image on-the-fly according to the mosaicking rules defined within its properties.

Learn more about the mosaic dataset

There are some cases where you may prefer to generate a permanently mosaicked raster dataset. For example:

There are several geoprocessing tools available for mosaicking multiple raster datasets into a single raster dataset. These are

When you right-click a raster dataset in ArcCatalog or the Catalog window and choose the option to load data, you access the Mosaic tool. If you want to mosaic raster datasets to a new raster dataset, use the Mosaic To New Raster tool. You can only mosaic to a raster format that ArcGIS can export. For more information about which formats ArcGIS can export, see Supported raster dataset file formats.

If you are mosaicking many rasters (such as 50 rasters stored in ArcSDE), it is faster to create an unmanaged raster catalog and use the Raster Catalog To Raster Dataset tool than to use the Mosaic To New Raster tool, even when you consider the time it takes to create the unmanaged raster catalog.

In ArcMap, you can click a raster catalog layer in the table of contents and click Data > Mosaic Raster Catalog to open the Mosaic Raster Catalog dialog box. This allows you to create a mosaicked raster dataset from a selected set of rasters, clipped to the data frame or graphic, or a mosaic of the entire raster dataset. You can optionally apply any color correction settings made on the Layer Properties dialog box. You can also use the Mosaic button Mosaic on the Image Analysis window to mosaic a selected set of raster layers together. They are added to the table of contents as a temporary layer. You have to save this layer as a permanent raster dataset to preserve the mosaic. You can do this by right-clicking the layer in the table of contents and clicking Data > Export Data, or by selecting the layer in the Image Analysis window and clicking the Export button Export.

You can export a mosaic dataset to a mosaicked raster dataset using the Copy Raster tool.

There may be times when you want to view the raster datasets in the raster catalog without seeing the wireframe. In essence, this is like an on-the-fly mosaic. The difference between this and using a mosaic dataset is how the pixels are accessed, and there are no mosaicking rules. Therefore, the images in a raster catalog are displayed in the order in which they were added, or by defining an order field on the Layer Properties dialog box.

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