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How do I convert MapInfo TAB and/or MIF files to SHP using only free tools or ArcGIS itself?

I've not had much luck trying to do this in the past and I don't want to have to shell out for the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension which seems to be the 'official' way to go about this.

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Or you can export it as an MapInfo (.mif) file and open it in QGIS. Then you can do anything you wish. Long live opensource software... :) – user22030 Sep 16 '13 at 9:26

12 Answers 12

up vote 39 down vote accepted

You can also do this with QGIS. Basically, QGIS acts as a GUI for ogr2ogr.

Just load the Mapinfo file, right-click the layer in TOC and go to "Save as ..." where you can chose from many output formats.

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Perfect! Org2Org with a nice GUI. Was hoping there is something as simple as that. – Jakub Jul 25 '11 at 20:44
+1 Great hint!!! – com May 31 '12 at 7:58

You can use ogr2ogr:

ogr2ogr -f 'ESRI Shapefile' output.shp input.mif

To handle different geometries in one file in one pass (windows example):

for %%a in (linestring point polygon) do ogr2ogr -skipfailures -nlt %%a outdir\%%a

Or in Linux (Bash):

for a in linestring point polygon; do ogr2ogr -skipfailures -nlt $a outdir/$a; done
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If you have different geometries in the MapInfo file, you need to generate several shapefiles, e.g. ogr2ogr -f 'ESRI Shapefile' -skipfailures -nlt LINESTRING output.shp (Substitute LINESTRING with POLYGON and POINT as needed.) – Florian Jenn Mar 19 '12 at 14:10
thanks @FlorianJenn, I added a cmd snippet for handling them in one pass. – matt wilkie Nov 9 '12 at 19:09
@matt wikie: thats a nice and useful codesnippet . thanks for sharing !! – Kurt Nov 13 '12 at 18:04
On windows you also need double quotes around "ESRI Shapefile" – Gerd K Oct 9 '15 at 9:43

George is correct, although for me, the toolbar is named ArcView 8x Tools.

For TAB files, ogr is pretty handy as well, and will handle lots of formats -

ogr2ogr -

Easiest install is probably with FWTools -

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true :P thats the correct name of the tool. – George Jul 23 '10 at 17:54
fwtools is not being actively developed anymore, focus has shifted to osgeo4w, select Express install or ensure the gdal package is selected if using Advanced install. – matt wilkie Nov 9 '12 at 19:24

Go to mapinfo, under TOOLS click universal translator and choose which format you want your file to convert to. this works!

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This is correct although IIRC it is possible to install MapInfo without installing the Universal Translator, though you'd have to be a fool or a masochist to do so. – Mr_Chimp Jan 19 '12 at 13:16

You can also download and use FME at

Or check out the free online file converter at

which provides standard file translation as a free service. It doesn't leverage the transformation capabilities of FME but hey it is free with nothing to install.

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the free online service is interesting, but only of use if your in and out spatial references are one of 3 (Texas State Plane, UTM Zone 14, or unprojected wgs84). – matt wilkie Nov 9 '12 at 18:47

If you want to do it in batch, have a look at As ogr2ogr in any mentioned before would not do it in batch. Also in ArcCatalog there are conversion tools, which will do MIFtoSHP, also single and batch. Though I would recommend Ogr2ogr. Cheers.

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Having a command line tool, it is easy to write your own scripts that do exactly what you want with it (batch convertions too). Also if you write such things as you would recommend ogr2ogr over Arc, please tell why. Other than link to GUI for OGR (okey, someone might find useful), I wouldn't say that your answer has given any value to the already closed issue. – Mykolas Simutis Jun 13 '11 at 11:40
1. Not all people can write scripts for batching and also since there is user friendly GUI (free), why would you write additional script. 2. Ogr2ogr either command line or with GUI over Arc converter, as it supports .tab. Also in the past I had some problems with batching .mif in Arc. 3. I guess since Mykolas decided, that in the end link to OGR GUI may be useful, I will not elaborate longer on the value of my anwser. – Tomek Jun 13 '11 at 14:17

For ArcGIS up to 9.3, go to ArcCatalog, click with the right button at any toolbar and choose ArcView 8x Tools.

There is a MIF converter there.

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what version of ArcGIS can you do this? – artwork21 Aug 17 '11 at 11:44
Didn't find this in ArcGIS 10. Also, Interoperability Tools didn't work (possibly a license issue, the error message wasn't very informative.) – Florian Jenn Mar 19 '12 at 14:11
Also see this answer in Esri forums (links to instructions, checking license availability, and how to get a 60 day trial (easier to use ogr2ogr though, unless there's other stuff you need to do too) – matt wilkie Nov 9 '12 at 19:01

You can download a free version of MapInfo - basically older versions which are no longer supported. Included with them is Universal Translator which will make conversions from TAB or MID/MIF to Shapefiles for ArcMap.

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Which version is this and where to find it? – watbywbarif Jun 20 '12 at 8:20
a free version of MapInfo Pro?? Well, there is the 30 day trial versions. Is that what you are suggesting? Other "free versions" more sound like "cracked versions" to me. – Peter Horsbøll Møller Sep 27 '12 at 18:59

I've not used this but have you tried the MIF2SHP tool from

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the mif2shp tool is an arcview3 extension, so can't be run standalone. – matt wilkie Nov 9 '12 at 18:38

A few options:

  1. Safe FME desktop for files - not the esri edition. The file edition is cheaper than the esri interop extension.
  2. MapInfo Pro - buy a copy for less than the ESRI interoperability extension
  3. CADCorp Desktop GIS
  4. OGR to OGR - fiddly and some issues
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Apart from OGR2GUI and MapInfo Universal Translator and Esri Data Interoperability, there is a way to convert MIF/MID files into shapefiles without having anything else than ArcGIS for Desktop (any license level) installed.

In the C:\Program Files (x86)\ArcGIS\Desktop10.3\Bin, there is a utility called avmifshp.exe which will do the trick. Keep in mind that you would need to define the coordinate system on your own afterwards. You will need to re-define the styles and labels etc (coming from .map file, which cannot be converted with this utility into .mxd) on your own while creating a new ArcGIS map document.

For more details on the usage, look here at this blog post. I have tested the workflow and it works great.

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Feel like this should be shared since I don't see it mentioned in the plethora of answers already present. There is a great piece of software out there called Alteryx with a free trial that very easily converts just about anything to anything else when it comes to databases and spatial data. I have converted .tab to .shp rather seamlessly in a matter of seconds with this method.

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