ArcGIS setup, part 1 (initial GIS setup)

Before using ArcMap you need to make sure that it's configured correctly.

You only need to perform these procedures once (unless you reset ArcGIS to factory defaults as described below.)

Set up ArcGIS folders

For this class you will need to create the following folder:

You should also add the following folders to Windows Explorer's Favorites:

Reset ArcGIS to factory defaults

This procedure resets all ArcGIS preferences to their factory defaults. If ArcMap or ArcCatalog start crashing (not just behaving weirdly, but actually quitting for no apparent reason), re-running this procedure can often fix the problem.

NOTE: If you do this, you will also have to re-run any other setup procedures in this or subsequent documents.

  1. Quit ArcMap and/or ArcCatalog, if they're running.
  2. If any of the following folders exist, delete them:

Set ArcCatalog defaults

Start up ArcCatalog; then:


  1. Click Customize→Toolbars
  2. Check the following:

geoprocessing options

  1. Click Geoprocessing→Geoprocessing Options...
    1. Check GeneralOverwrite the outputs of geoprocessing operations
    2. Check GeneralLog geoprocessing operations to a log file
    3. Un-check Background ProcessingEnable
    4. Check ModelBuilderWhen connecting elements, display valid parameters...
    5. Click OK

folder connections

  1. In the Catalog Tree window, right-click Folder Connections
  2. Click Connect to Folder...
  3. Type H:\ESM263 in the Folder: text box
  4. Click OK

default workspace

  1. In the Catalog Tree window, right-click H:\ESM263
  2. Select NewFile Geodatabase
  3. Name it Default.gdb


  1. Click Geoprocessing→Environments...
  2. Click Workspace
  3. Set Current Workspace to H:\ESM263\Default.gdb
  4. Set Scratch Workspace to in_memory
  5. Click OK


Many ArcGIS capabilities are separately licensed as "extensions". We will be using the Spatial Analyst extentsion in much of this course, so we need to arrange for it to be enabled by default:

  1. Go to Customize→Extensions...
  2. Check Spatial Analyst
  3. Click Close

Quit ArcCatalog

Set ArcMap defaults

Start up ArcMap; then:


  1. Go to Customize→Toolbars
  2. Check the following:

map pathname handling

  1. Go to Customize→ArcMap Options...
  2. Select the General tab
  3. Check Make relative paths the default for new map documents
  4. Un-check Show Getting Started dialog.
  5. Click OK

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