The Catalog tree and item properties in ArcCatalog

ArcCatalog provides an integrated and unified view of all the data files, databases, and ArcGIS documents available to you. ArcCatalog is also used to document and manage metadata and to define the schemas of geodatabases.

The ArcCatalog interface has two key panels:

The ArcCatalog application window

The Catalog tree

ArcCatalog helps you manage all your geographic information items using the Catalog Tree panel to view your files on disk and database connections. By selecting an element in the Catalog tree, you can view its properties, geography, and attributes in the right-hand contents preview panel. You can organize your contents in the Catalog tree, make new connections, add new elements (such as datasets), remove elements, rename them, and so on.

The Contents, Preview, and Description tabs

You can view the properties and contents of any item by clicking to highlight the item in the tree view and display the results in the view panel to the right. There are three viewing options, which are controlled by the tabs in the right panel: Contents, Preview, and Description. Click the tab to select the desired viewing option.

The Contents tab

Use the Contents tab to view the contents of the selected item.

Viewing the contents of a geodatabase named Sample.gdb

The Preview tab

Use the Preview tab to view the geography or the table of the selected item. There are a number of preview options that can be set at the bottom of the Preview panel.

The Geography preview of a dataset from the geodatabase
The geography preview of a dataset named TaxParcels

On the Preview tab, you can also see and work with a table view.

The Table view of a dataset
You can set the type of view shown in the preview such as the table view displayed here.

For users who have the 3D Analyst extension, you can see a globe view and a 3D scene view.

The Globe preview in ArcCatalog
The globe view shown here requires the 3D Analyst extension to be enabled on your desktop.

The Description tab

Use the Description tab to view and edit the description (metadata) of the selected item.

The Description tab view of a map document named MountBaker

Click the Edit button to edit the item description.

Editing the item description (or "metadata")

See A quick tour of metadata for more information.