Is it possible to link two data frames so that they mirror each other? I know I can set the extent of one data frame to that of another data frame, but then you can only pan/zoom in the parent frame. Basically just want the two data frames to mirror one another.

I would like the flexibility to pan and zoom in which ever data frame is active, not just the "parent" data frame. This is different from setting the extent of one data frame to match that of another, where only the parent data frame has the ability to pan and zoom. I am using ArcMap 10.1.

I have made this suggestion to ArcGIS Idea: Mirror Data Frames - ArcGIS Idea

  • Are you looking for this to work dynamically, or is the end result a printed/exported map?
    – Baltok
    Dec 24, 2014 at 19:05
  • I would like for them to work dynamically.
    – Peter
    Dec 24, 2014 at 19:06
  • Based on the question, and the possible duplicate Dan C mentioned, I would say you are stuck with only matching extents and only being able to change the extent in the parent data frame. What's your use case for needing to be able to pan/zoom in both data frames?
    – Baltok
    Dec 24, 2014 at 19:16
  • I saw this, but I don't think it is what I am looking for. I would like for data frame 1 and 2 to follow each other. If I pan or zoom in data frame 1 then data frame 2 does the same. If I pan or zoom in data frame 2 then data frame 1 does the same. If I were to set the extent of data frame 2 to match data frame 1, then it is only possible to move around in the parent data frame (data frame 1).
    – Peter
    Dec 24, 2014 at 19:19
  • I think I am stuck. I was hoping to use the first data frame to pin point an "area of interest" and zoom to that area, then pan around in the second data frame. I would like to keep the data in the two data frames separate if possible. I might have to create a work around using a range scale for layers to be shown.
    – Peter
    Dec 24, 2014 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


As commented by @Baltok:

One method that isn't fully dynamic, is to use a Viewer Window. You could open a viewer on one data frame and zoom around. Then just choose zoom map to viewer to get the other data frame at the same extent. This works alright if the viewer window data frame is only being used for a reference. It also works handy if you have multiple monitors because you can place your viewer window on another screen.

If you require more than this workaround then I recommend that you submit an ArcGIS Idea and post its link here. An existing idea entitled Linked Data Frames does not seem to be what you are after.

  • 1
    I have made this suggestion to ArcGIS Idea. The link is in the original question.
    – Peter
    Dec 29, 2014 at 18:45

Another method is to use Bookmarks:

  1. Set up your bookmarks whilst one data frame is active,
  2. Export those bookmarks using the Bookmarks > Manage Bookmarks... > Save > Save All... button,
  3. Activate the second data frame and import those bookmarks using the Bookmarks > Manage Bookmarks... > Load... button,
  4. Now both data frames have bookmarks that are the same: loop through the bookmarks as desired by activating each data frame in turn and using the Bookmarks menu.

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