About map packages

Map packages (.mpk) make it easy to share complete map documents with others. A map package contains a map document (.mxd) and the data referenced by the layers it contains, packaged into one convenient, portable file. Map packages can be used for easy sharing of maps between colleagues in a work group, across departments in an organization, or with any other ArcGIS users via ArcGIS Online. Map packages have other uses too, such as the ability to create an archive of a particular map that contains a snapshot of the current state of the data used in the map.

Map package creation

The following options are available when creating a map package:

Upload package to my ArcGIS Online account—Use this option to easily share your package with a much wider audience by sharing to your ArcGIS Online account. Once you've uploaded your package to your online account, you can share it within your private groups or with everyone.

Save package to file—Packages can be shared locally by writing a package file to disk. As with any other format, a package can be shared through e-mail or by copying and pasting to other locations on your internal network.

Include enterprise geodatabase data instead of referencing the data—You may want to consider this option if you have enterprise (ArcSDE) geodatabase data in your map. When this option is checked, the data is extracted from the enterprise geodatabase into a file geodatabase by intersecting the features from the layer with the current data frame's extent. Not checking this option means the map layers will continue to reference enterprise geodatabase data.

For example, when sharing your content within your organization, it is likely that enterprise geodatabase data will be accessible for those consuming the package. In this case, un-checking this option (that is referencing) is a good choice. However, when sharing your content outside of your organization, enterprise geodatabase data will not be accessible, and checking this option to include the data in your package is a better choice.

Make Runtime Compatible—When this option is enabled, extra analyzers are run to ensure that the package is suitable for use in ArcGIS Runtime SDK for Java.

Reference all data—This option is only available if the package is set to be created as runtime compatible. This creates a package that points to the data needed rather than copying the data. This is valuable when packaging large datasets that are available from a central location within an organization

The Map Package dialog box is shown in the following screen shot: Map Package dialog box

Package information

The Item Description is an important part of your package. It provides detailed information to users about the map package. The Item Description dialog box provides the following fields where you can enter information describing your map:


Any changes you make to item descriptions pre-populated from Map Document Properties will not be reflected in the map document properties. The changes you make will only be for the package itself.


Before packaging a map, be sure to enter descriptive information about it in the Map Document Properties dialog box. This information is built into the package and is accessible to others when you upload your map package into ArcGIS Online. You can access this dialog box by clicking File > Map Document Properties on the main menu.

For more information on setting map document properties to pre-populate the item description, see Setting_map_document_properties.

The Map Package Item Description dialog box is shown in the following screen shot:

Map Package Item Description dialog box

Additional files

Additional files can be added to Esri packages. These additional files can include controls and applications (*.ocx, *.exe, and *.dll files) that can be downloaded and run on a user's computer. These executable files can be risky to download and run. In order to provide guarantees of authenticity and integrity of executable files (EXE and DLL) included in a package, only digitally signed executable files are allowed to be added to a package. A digital signature attached to an executable file positively identifies the distributor of that file and ensures that the contents of the file were not changed after the signature was created.