I have a layer where the creator drew overlapping polygons instead of clipping or cutting them out, (30,000) polys and 10,000 overlapping after topology was run. I do not want to manually fix one at a time. I have a way of selecting all the overlaps (through intersecting the layer by itself) but arc does not allow an editor tool to clip with multiple features selected (as far as I know) and the clip (Analysis) tool will not preserve the polys outside.

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1 Answer 1


It looks like you have all the pieces selected where you want holes cut out. Why not use Data Export to create a new layer out of them and then delete them from the original (or a copy of the original) and then do an "Erase"? Once they are deleted from the original, you will no longer have the overlap.

To Address your comment below: Do the Erase as I described and then do a Merge.

  • Hi, I may not have been clear in what I need to maintain. I don't want holes where the small orange polys are. I need to preserve the small objects, but clip them out of the large polys so there are no overlaps between the two.
    – Chris
    Jul 9, 2015 at 16:04
  • Because I intersected the layer with itself to get where there were overlaps, I have two small polygons overlapping in that selected dataset. So an erase and merge still leaves me with an overlapping problem. (The small orange polys are drawn on top of the large gray polys when they should have been clipped out by the vendor). I am trying to get rid of the overlap.
    – Chris
    Jul 9, 2015 at 16:31
  • 1
    I was able able to solve the problem. I only put the original layer into the intersect tool. This output gave me the area of overlapping polygons. I merged the overlapping layer into one poly, and then exploded it. This got rid of the overlapping polys. I then used the erase command with the orig layer and the merged-exploded layer and then merged the two back together. Seemed like a convoluted process to get rid of overlaps, but it worked! Thank you for the erase and merge idea!
    – Chris
    Jul 9, 2015 at 16:55
  • @Chris I think it would be useful if you could use the content of your comments to revise your question with more precise details of your requirement, and then to post a self-answer to your question. Comments are just used to clarify questions and answers.
    – PolyGeo
    Jul 9, 2015 at 19:59

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