Is there a way to display selected features no matter the scale level in ArcMap 10.3? When I select by attribute and then zoom to selection I often just get a blank map since the layer is set not to display at the resulting zoom level.

To just change the layer to display no matter the zoom level is not an option, since that would result in the whole map being covered in points. The only workaround I have been able to come up with is to (1) copy the layer, (2) set it to display at all zoom levels, and (3) do the selection as a definition query. In my opinion that is to many clicks for such a simple task. Is there a better way?

3 Answers 3


As a supplement to Brad's answer, there is no setting or option to accomplish this automatically. That being said if this is just a one time operation it can be accomplished in two clicks. Once you have your selection:

Right click the layer in the TOC navigate to the 'Selection' menu and click 'Create Layer From Selected Features'. enter image description here

This will create a layer of the selected features that will by default show at all scales, while your original layer will maintain its symbol levels.

  • Fantastic! I must admit that I am a bit surprised there isn't a setting for this, but your solution is quick enough to work in my workflow. Thanks!
    – Anders
    Aug 24, 2015 at 14:58

Using esri streetmap data you can get an idea of how to accomplish multiple zoom levels on 1 layer. You should either have a dvd that came with your product or can download it with your global login at my.esri.com. For example in the transportation layer group they have road with multiple zoom levels. No matter what scale you zoom to one of them turns on. You don't describe what data you are wanting to zoom to (and view).
zoom dependency

As you described in your question these are a copy of the same layer grouped
Layer group
with only "some" of the data shown while zoomed out.
Zoom symbology
Here esri uses FCC code to only show some codes at differing levels.
You might have to build some data to use at scale levels in your data and make your own dependency on.
Scale dependency
If this standard solution doesn' twork it sounds more like you are trying to build an app that will automate the process (not a cartographic solution).

If you are a programmer then you can utilize the create layer from selected.
But that doesn't really answer the question as stated.

  • Thanks for the answer. However, I don't think this solves my problem as I do not want to make some predefined group of features visible at all zoom levels, I want to make whatever features that are currently selected visible on all zoom levels.
    – Anders
    Aug 24, 2015 at 14:16

I came up with another workaround:

Copy the whole layer in question. Set it to display at all zoom layers, but set its symbology settings so that i does not display anything at all (for instance, in the Symbol Selector, click edit symbol and then pick a blank Character Marker). But keep the display settings for selected features (specified on the Selected tab in the Layer Properties).

Now, if I do the Select by Attribute on this layer, it will only display the selected features and nothing else.

Not very pretty since it requires an extra layer, but at least it gets the job done.

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