I have a bunch of LAS file sets that I need to process. The current task at hand is to generate a "footprint" shapefile that contains polygons for each LAS tile. I am looking for a graceful way to generate this polygon shapefile for all the LAS files in a directory. I am using ArcGIS 10 with just about every extension you can have (academic site license).

At the moment, my workaround is to use LAStools lasboundary.exe and then merge all of the individual shapefiles into single shapefile. However, this takes a while to execute and requires the additional merge step at the end.

  • 2
    I'll add another off-topic tool: pdal: pdal tindex create myindex.shp --fast_boundary .\source\*.las. Done. Feb 20, 2020 at 0:52

6 Answers 6


After looking into both solutions proposed previously, I stumbled upon a dead simple way to do this.

  1. Use 3D Analyst Tools > Conversion > From File > Point File Information.
  2. In the dialog box, select Folders in the "Browse For:" drop-down menu. Click on the Folder icon and select the directory where your LAS files reside.
  3. Enter the name and desired location for the Output Feature Class.
  4. Specify the Input File Format (in this case, LAS).
  5. Enter file suffix of the files you want to include in the process (in this case, las).
  6. Enter the Input Coordinate System. It says that this is optional, but it is only optional if the coordinate system is specified correctly in the LAS files. Personally, I would look up the correct information from the metadata and enter it here.
  7. Click Ok and wait for the process to finish.

Now you have a polygon shapefile consisting of the footprints of each and every LAS file in the directory.

  • This helped me solve exactly what I was looking for! Thank you!
    – Jessica
    Apr 4, 2022 at 16:47

I believe you can access those (LAS) directly now in 10 so I would try the mosaic dataset. Which does exactly what you are wanting (Build footprint polygons)

  • A Good Answer!.
    – Mapperz
    May 27, 2011 at 16:49
  • Thanks alot! I will try this today and comment later. I appreciate your response. May 31, 2011 at 14:08

With lasboundary.exe (README) you can create fast & exact polygonal boundaries in SHP, KML, WKT or TXT format for Gigabyte sized LAS/LAZ LiDAR files. The tool can be found at LAStools.org.

  • 5
    We appreciate replies from vendors and other commercially interested parties, Martin, but in such cases to retain credibility it's crucial that you identify your connection with the solution you are recommending.
    – whuber
    Feb 13, 2012 at 15:47
  • Users of lasboundary may be interested in the '-overview' and '-labels' options for generating a merged file with multiple polygons.
    – oasisbob
    Sep 15, 2020 at 2:23

As a first stab at this, I've used to Hawth's Tools in the past to create minimum convex polygons. The algorithm doesn't follow any concave edges so it may not be suitable for your datasets.

  • Also, I'm not sure how this tool set could be used in an automated batch execution... May 27, 2011 at 14:47
  • Thanks alot for your response! I will check this out if the solution above does not work out. May 31, 2011 at 14:09

Another option would be to use/install the GeoCue Las Reader extension for Arc, add in the las file as a layer, and finally use the Minimum Bounding Geometry Data Management tool to create the bounding polygon layer.

Creates a feature class containing polygons which represent a specified minimum bounding geometry enclosing each input feature or each group of input features.

  • It seems like this should be a comment, but I don't rank: The Minimum Bounding Geometry (Data Management) does not recognize las files; it will not work. artwork21's answer. Jun 20, 2016 at 23:51
  • @David Richey, I've updated my answer.
    – artwork21
    Jun 21, 2016 at 1:39

I tried each of the solutions on a latge UAV LAS data set and found lasboundary.exe to give the quickest and cleanest result

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