Setting ArcMap options

You have the ability to establish a number of preferences for ArcMap and your map document on the ArcMap Options dialog box. Once set, these options are saved as properties of your map document and are used each time the map document is opened in subsequent sessions or until they are changed.

To open the ArcMap Options dialog box, click Customize > ArcMap Options on the main menu.

ArcMap Options tabs

This dialog box includes a number of tabs. Each tab corresponds to specific options you can set and use:

General options

Here you can set options for the application. These include defining ArcMap's startup behavior. Here you can set ArcMap to automatically do the following:

Learn more about starting ArcMap

Other options available on this tab include:


These settings apply to all your ArcMap sessions, not only your current map document. They are saved as registry settings for the ArcMap application.

Data View options

On this tab, you can set how you work with your map when you are in data view:

Layout View options

Here you can enable options for working with the page layout:

These settings are stored in the current map document (.mxd file) and just apply to this map.

Metadata options

Here you can set the metadata style and update rules. A metadata style configures ArcGIS to create the metadata you want. It controls how you view metadata and also the pages that appear for editing metadata on the Description tab. It identifies the metadata standard or profile to be followed, the XML schema defining the valid XML format for that standard, and how to export metadata from ArcGIS to a stand-alone metadata XML file in that format. Choose the style from the available list.

The default style, Item Description, lets you create a brief description for an item that can be searched in ArcGIS and published to ArcGIS Online. This metadata style is best for individuals who don't need complete access to metadata or for organizations that don't need to adhere to metadata standards.

If you want to see or edit more information than is available with the Item Description metadata style or you must create metadata that complies with a metadata standard, choose another metadata style that provides access to an item's complete ArcGIS metadata.

By default, ArcGIS automatically creates metadata if it doesn't already exist and updates existing metadata for you. When you view metadata, elements that were updated automatically have an asterisk (*) next to their name or value. If you choose not to automatically create metadata, you can still create metadata for an item by editing it on the Description tab, but the metadata isn't updated automatically when you view it; metadata is still updated automatically when other operations are performed.


Choosing not to create metadata automatically can increase the speed with which you can view metadata because the update won't be performed. Advanced users who are creating metadata for publication for datasets that are still in production can also uncheck this option until they are ready to generate the final metadata. You can use the Synchronize Metadata geoprocessing tool to update an item's metadata at any time.

Tables options

This tab provides a number of options that you can use to customize the way attributes are displayed in tables. Font, color, and size are properties that can be changed for attribute values, while color and cell sizes can be adjusted for the entire table. You can use characters to indicate indexed fields, display domain and subtype descriptions, and set field properties on the Layer Properties dialog box that are honored by the table. Also, you can set application behavior when performing attribute joins.

Learn more about setting general table display options

Raster options

There are several options that can be defined to modify how your raster data is displayed. This allows you to save time and display your raster data consistently. On this tab, you can enable properties of raster datasets, raster catalogs, raster layers, and mosaic datasets.

These settings apply to all ArcGIS for Desktop applications. Changing any setting here changes it for all the applications.

Learn more about setting default raster display options

CAD options

Here you can enable the option for recognizing MicroStation DGN files.

MicroStation allows you to assign any file extension to design files. This setting enables ArcGIS to recognize these types of files as CAD drawings and CAD feature datasets. This support only applies to three-character file extension names. If this setting is not enabled, ArcGIS only recognizes files with .dgn file extensions as MicroStation design files.

These settings apply to all ArcGIS for Desktop applications. Changing any setting here changes it for all the applications.

Learn more about working with CAD data

Sharing options

The Sharing tab provides options for both publishing and packaging.

Publishing options include an option to change the publishing staging path along with an option to automatically save the document when publishing.

The staging path is the location where a map is staged before it is published. You can override this folder from an ArcGIS Server connection in ArcCatalog. This is also the default location for staged (saved) service definitions. You can override this location for an individual service definition within the Share As Service wizard.

The publishing process requires that the document be saved before it is published. You will be prompted to save the document before publishing and staging a service definition. Choosing to automatically save the document will keep you from having to interactively save the document every time you publish or save a service definition.

When publishing a cached service, ArcGIS returns a warning message box when the estimated cache exceeds a given size. You can change the threshold for the warning by entering a new size. If you do not want the warning message to appear, uncheck Show warning when cache exceeds.


These settings do not affect the analyzers associated with the estimated size of the cache you are about to create and the available space on the server. These analyzers will still trigger if the estimated size of your cache may (warning 24050), or will (error 00149), exceed the available space on the server.

Learn more about publishing services

For packaging, this tab has an option to support ArcGIS runtime tools when creating a map package. Once enabled, you will see this option in the Share as Map Package wizard. You can also choose the location to unpack packages.

Learn more about creating a map package

Display Cache options

The display cache is a local disk cache on your computer that stores data for basemap layers, tiled images from cached map services from ArcGIS for Server, tiled images from other Internet map services, and the ArcGIS globe cache. ArcGIS for Desktop uses this display cache to help manage and improve display performance in ArcMap and ArcGlobe. Here you can enable properties to specify the cache location, clear an existing cache, and view its size.

Learn more about managing your local display cache

Related Topics