Using ArcCatalog options

The ArcCatalog Options dialog box allows you to specify a number of options and settings for working with ArcCatalog.

For example, you can do the following:

Hiding folders and items

The General tab is where you turn on and off the ability to view certain types of top-level entries and how you view the files in ArcCatalog. You can focus your use of ArcCatalog on specific top-level entries by turning off certain levels that you do not use. The top-level entries include these:

Other folders belonging to ArcGIS for Desktop extensions may also be present in the list, depending on which extensions are installed on your system. Top-level folders belonging to particular extensions may automatically appear in the Catalog tree as soon as the extension is turned on in the Extensions dialog box. This behavior varies according to the extension.

The ArcCatalog Options dialog box

You can choose to list files without displaying their file extensions. Uncheck Hide file extensions if you prefer to see extensions for the data and file types shown in the Catalog. For example, when extensions are hidden, a shapefile called USA will just appear as USA and not USA.shp. This helps to make the Catalog listings less cluttered and easier to read.

For some data types, such as raster data, the file extension can be useful to help you distinguish quickly between different file types.

By default, ArcCatalog will automatically return to the last location you were browsing whenever you restart the application. Uncheck this option if you want ArcCatalog to always start at the top level of the Catalog.

Visible file types

The File Types tab allows you to add file types, in addition to the standard types, that will be shown. For example, if you want ArcCatalog to show ArcInfo AML files, you can add that type of file to this list.


Avoid using file extensions already recognized by ArcCatalog. For example, if you add a file type that ArcCatalog already recognizes, such as .prj files, ArcCatalog can no longer recognize those data types.

The CAD tab allows you to enable or disable the examination of all file extensions for MicroStation DGN compliance.

MicroStation allows you to assign any file extension to design files. This setting enables ArcGIS for Desktop 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 for Desktop will only recognize files with .dgn file extensions as MicroStation design files.

Visible columns in the Contents view

As an administrator, you can use ArcCatalog to perform a number of management tasks for enterprise geodatabases and GIS servers. In these cases, it is helpful to view additional properties on the Contents tab view in ArcCatalog. For example, making the Modified field visible can help you distinguish older documents from recent ones.

You can set visible properties for fields that are displayed in the Details view on the Contents tab.

Contents tab

The Details view option is available when you are using the Contents tab in ArcCatalog. To list the contents of the selected item in Details view, click the Details button Details on the Standard toolbar. The Details view lists both standard and metadata columns. Metadata columns are always listed after standard columns. You will also see these columns on the Contents tab if you select an item that is not a container. For example, if you select a shapefile or a feature class in the Catalog tree, you'll see the standard and metadata columns about this item on the Contents tab.

Standard columns contain system-level information. Some of the columns may not apply to all items. For example, the size and modification columns apply to file-based items such as maps, shapefiles, and layers but not to databases and their contents. The Location field shows the full path of the target of shortcuts in the Catalog but remains blank for other Catalog items.

Metadata columns are obtained from the metadata stored for each item in the Catalog. Each metadata column represents one of the fields of information that you can normally see on the Catalog's Metadata tab. Some of this information is derived from the data automatically, and some is descriptive information supplied by a person.

Viewing metadata

You can view metadata on the Contents tab (described above) or from the Description tab views in ArcCatalog. The metadata style presented on the Description tab is chosen from the Metadata tab on the Options dialog box. The style controls how you view metadata and also the pages that appear when editing metadata. 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 for Desktop to a stand-alone metadata XML file in that format.

The default metadata style, Item Description, lets you create a brief description for an item that can be searched in ArcGIS for Desktop 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.

When the Automatically update when metadata is viewed option is checked, ArcGIS 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 uncheck this option, you can still create metadata for an item by editing it on the Description tab, but the metadata won't be updated automatically when you view it; metadata will still be updated automatically when other operations are performed. Unchecking this option can increase the speed with which you can view metadata because the update won' t be performed. If you are creating metadata for publication on datasets that are still in production, you may want to uncheck this option until you are ready to generate the final metadata. You can use the Synchronize Metadata tool to update an item's metadata at any time.