Exporting features

With ArcMap, you can export the data for a layer to another location or format or as a subset of the features from the original data source. ArcMap can write new data to either a shapefile or geodatabase. This data can include all the original data, a selected set of the features, or only the features visible in the map's current extent. ArcMap can also save the data so it uses the data frame's coordinate system or the coordinate system of a feature dataset in a geodatabase.

When you export data, it can contain not only just the selected features but also only the features identified by the layer's definition query. If the layer is a selection layer, the definition of that selection layer will also be used.


ArcView users can export features to a shapefile, file geodatabase, or personal geodatabase, while ArcEditor and ArcInfo users also have the option of exporting to an ArcSDE geodatabase.

Exporting features to a new coordinate system

When you export data from ArcMap, you can choose to create a new feature class using a different coordinate system than that of the source data, the coordinate system of the data frame or the coordinate system of the feature dataset to which you are exporting the data.

When you export data to a feature dataset in a geodatabase, it will use the coordinate system of the feature dataset. If you export data as a stand-alone feature class or to a file-based data source, it will have the same coordinate system as the source data.

With the Project geoprocessing tool, you can make a copy of your data, change its coordinate system, and transform the shapes in the data to use the new coordinate system. You can use the Project geoprocessing tool as part of a model or as you need it while working in ArcMap or ArcCatalog.

If your data's geographic coordinate system uses a different datum from that of the new feature class, you will likely write spatially inaccurate data. Instead of directly writing to the new feature class, make a copy of the original feature class and use the Project geoprocessing tool to reproject that feature class to the coordinate system that you ultimately want to use. As part of using the Project geoprocessing tool, you will be able to specify a datum transformation. Once you have projected the copy, you can copy it into the new workspace and delete the first copy. This applies to any workspace in ArcMap or a geoprocessing tool that is able to write new data.

  1. Right-click the layer in the table of contents and click Data > Export Data.
  2. Click the Export arrow and click All features, Selected features, or All features in View Extent.
  3. Click the option for the output coordinate system you want to use.
  4. Click the Browse button Browse and navigate to a location to save the exported data.
  5. Type the name for the output data source.
  6. Click the Save as type arrow and choose the output type.
  7. Click Save.
  8. Click OK.

  • If you choose to export data to a feature dataset, the options for choosing the coordinate system become unavailable, meaning you will be using the coordinate system from the feature dataset.
  • When exporting from text file to shapefile format, the export may fail if the length of a record exceeds the supported length for .dbf files.