In ArcGIS desktop, I select some features from a feature class (say with the "Select By Location" function), and then right-click and choose "Selection--> Make Layer From Selected Features"(online help reference at bottom of page).

Now, while I am inspecting this temporary "selection layer", I see that there are some features that I really didn't intend to include and would like to remove them from this selection layer in a manual way (point-and-click). Therefore, I would think I could select the feature (in the temporary "selection layer"), now remove it from the temporary selection layer, but cannot seem to find a way to do so. I cannot simply start editing and delete, as this would also affect the source layer. Is it possible to remove a feature from a selection set layer?

This is a workflow issue, as I know there are some workarounds (like export to another feature class--> select features I don't want--> and delete), but I am wondering if the direct approach is possible on the temporary selection layer.


1 Answer 1


I don't think you can remove features from a selection layer once it's been created, but the workaround that I usually use is to create a new selection layer from your existing one:

  1. Select the features in your selection layer that you want to remove.
  2. Open the selection layer's attribute table and click Switch Selection, which will make all the features you want to keep the selected features.
  3. Right-click the selection layer and create a new selection layer (Selection > Create Layer from Selected Features), keeping those features.

If your existing selection layer has any special symbology, labels, etc. you'll of course lose those with the new selection layer.

  • 1
    Yep, that's another good workaround if its not possible directly. Apr 16, 2015 at 18:35
  • I'm not aware of any way either. It's sort of a 'burnt in' definition query. Easy enough to get around symbology loss though by just importing the symbology from the original feature layer or a saved .lyr file.
    – Chris W
    Apr 16, 2015 at 18:51
  • 2
    Yes @ChrisW, the IDS are 'burnt into' the layer. It is possible to change them in ArcObjects but there is no dialog. It is in (IFeatureLayer as IFeatureLayerDefinition).DefinitionSelectionSet It would be nearly trivial (for anyone with some programming experience) to use RemoveList, Add or AddList to modify the selection set. help.arcgis.com/en/sdk/10.0/arcobjects_net/componenthelp/… Apr 17, 2015 at 0:58

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