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Is there a way with ArcPy to identify the version of a Map Document (MXD). I am working on a solution to inventory our MXD's and would like to know if a document is 8.1, 9.2, 10.0, etc.

I am currently using ArcGIS 10.0, but if there is an update in 10.1 that does not exist in 10.0, I would appreciate hearing that, too.

I see there is a previous question of How can you find ArcGIS version programatically?, but it references all ArcObjects solutions (which I suppose I could call from python, but I would prefer not to).

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I think this might need an enhancement request for a read-only version property to be added to the MapDocument object. If you find/create one then link to it here and I will vote for it. – PolyGeo May 28 '13 at 22:33
There is a version control ArcGis Idea. (well, 3 merged into one) – gm70560 May 29 '13 at 0:50
I copied your script, modified it slightly for my environment and ran it on some of my files, but some of the files did not return a version even though I know they were saved in 9.3 or 10.0. I'm not sure if broken data sources would mess up your script. – user23294 Oct 25 '13 at 13:55
Related:… An excellent find by @danjurgell in a comment on a follow up question to the accepted answer here. Based on that blog post, there is no 100% reliable way to do this because the info just isn't stored in the file in a predictable manner. Both answers here will work some of the time but not all of the time. – Chris W Jun 11 '15 at 4:02
up vote 15 down vote accepted

I know this question is a few months old, but I'm posting this in case it helps others. I developed this kludge to parse version numbers from MXD documents. It basically reads the first 4000 or so characters of an MXD document and searches for a version number. I tested with MXD versions 9.2, 9.3, 10.0, and 10.1.

import re

def getMXDVersion(mxdFile):
    matchPattern = re.compile("9.2|9.3|10.0|10.1|10.2")
    with open(mxdFile, 'rb') as mxd:
        fileContents ='latin1')[1000:4500]
        removedChars = [x for x in fileContents if x not in [u'\xff',u'\x00',u'\x01',u'\t']]
        joinedChars = ''.join(removedChars)
        regexMatch = re.findall(matchPattern, joinedChars)
        if len(regexMatch) > 0:
            version = regexMatch[0]
            return version
            return 'version could not be determined for ' + mxdFile

Here is an example of scanning a folder for mxd files and printing the version and names

import os
import glob
folder = r'C:\Users\Administrator\Desktop\mxd_examples'
mxdFiles = glob.glob(os.path.join(folder, '*.mxd'))
for mxdFile in mxdFiles:
    fileName = os.path.basename(mxdFile)
    version = getMXDVersion(mxdFile)
    print version, fileName

Which returns this:

10.0 Arch_Cape_DRG.mxd
9.2 class_exercise.mxd
9.3 colored_relief2.mxd
10.1 CountyIcons.mxd
10.0 DEM_Template.mxd
9.2 ex_2.mxd
10.0 nairobimap.mxd
10.0 slope_script_example.mxd
10.1 TrailMapTemplateBetter.mxd
10.0 Wickiup_Mountain_DEM.mxd
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This is very cool! Very useful. Now can we do this with layers and geodatabases as well? – Mike Oct 25 '13 at 19:27
Works perfect! Thanks. – RyanDalton Oct 28 '13 at 19:22
This is pure awesome! – dchaboya Nov 21 '13 at 0:02

The function below is based on Ryan's idea, but is a little more direct. ArcGIS map documents are actually OLE documents, which can be parsed with the oletools module (available on pypi: The function opens the file and reads the version string. Tested with 9.0, 9.3, 10.1 and 10.3, but should work with anything (not sure about 3.x...).

from oletools.thirdparty import olefile

def mxd_version(filename):
    ofile = olefile.OleFileIO(filename)
    stream = ofile.openstream('Version')
    data ='utf-16')
    version = data.split('\x00')[1]
    return version

if __name__ == '__main__':
    import sys
share|improve this answer
That's a great function, too. The only hesitation I would have against using this function is that it requires the user to download/install a third party library (oletools) which in some organizations users may not be able to do. – RyanDalton Apr 16 '15 at 17:50
I only get one vote, but this will work in cases where the other answer doesn't. – DWynne Jun 10 '15 at 22:47

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