Shapefile file extensions

Shapefiles are a simple, nontopological format for storing the geometric location and attribute information of geographic features. A shapefile is one of the spatial data formats that you can work with and edit in ArcGIS.

The shapefile format defines the geometry and attributes of geographically referenced features in three or more files with specific file extensions that should be stored in the same project workspace. They are:

Each file must have the same prefix, for example, roads.shp, roads.shx, and roads.dbf.

When viewing shapefiles in ArcCatalog (or any ArcGIS program), you will only see one file representing the shapefile; however, you can use Windows Explorer to view all the files associated with a shapefile. When copying shapefiles, it is recommended that you do so in ArcCatalog or by using a geoprocessing tool. However, if you do copy a shapefile outside ArcGIS, be sure to copy all the files that make up the shapefile.

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