A quick tour of managing intermediate data

When a model is run, output data is created for each process in the model. Some of this output data is only created as a middle step to connect to other processes that will create the final output. The data generated from these middle steps, called intermediate data, is often (but not always) of no use once the model has finished running. You can think of intermediate data as temporary scratch data that should be deleted after the model has run. However, when you run a model from the ModelBuilder window, intermediate data is not deleted—it is up to you to delete it.

Learn how to delete intermediate data

All the data variables except existing data and the final output variables are automatically marked as intermediate in a model. To determine if a data variable in a model is considered intermediate or change the status of a variable that is intermediate, right-click the variable and click Intermediate to either add or remove the check mark next to it.


To prevent the final output variables from being deleted, It is strongly recommended that you do not set the final output variable as intermediate data.

Learn more about preserving intermediate data

Controlling where intermediate data is written

Geoprocessing tools that create new output datasets autogenerate the name of the output dataset (as described in Using the current and scratch workspace environments). This autogenerated name includes the path to the workspace or folder containing the dataset. ModelBuilder uses this autogenerated output name for writing intermediate data. You can always override this output dataset name by entering another name and location for the output dataset, and there are ways you can specify the workspace used to construct the autogenerated output name.

When you're working in ModelBuilder, it is easy to ignore this autogenerated output name, especially for intermediate data. But there are situations where you want to control where intermediate data is written.

To control where intermediate data is written, you can do one of the following:

For an in-depth discussion of intermediate data, especially as it pertains to model tools that you are sharing or publishing to ArcGIS Server, see Managing intermediate data in shared models.