I'm looking for a way to get all of the values from a single field in an ArcGIS table. Reasons for doing this might include pasting the values into a text document or SQL where clause.

Since ArcGIS 10.1 does not seem to have a way to do this (like right-click the field > Copy), I would like to see if I could write an ArcPy script to do this for me. The following code will write the values to the Python window if I pass it an explicit tablename and fieldname:

import arcpy
cur = arcpy.SearchCursor("myTableName")
fieldname = "myFieldName"

for row in cur:
    print row.getValue(fieldname)

del row, cur

However, to make this a dynamic tool, I would like to determine a way to identify:

  1. the active table (in the table window), and
  2. the active (highlighted) column/field in that table

at which point I can dynamically change the tablename and fieldname in the code above, based on what is selected.

Any ideas?

2 Answers 2


So, while not as interactive as what I was originally going for, I re-thought my options and realized I could just create a Python GP tool that allows the user to choose the tablename and fieldname from a standard GP dialog box. I also added a boolean checkbox that would allow the user to either list out each item on a new line, or as a string converted Python list. You will need to set the fieldname parameter to be "Obtained from" the table parameter in the GP tool parameters setup dialog.

Just like any GP tool, it will only display values for the currently selected set of features, if a selection set exists.

import arcpy

tablename = arcpy.GetParameterAsText(0)
fieldname = arcpy.GetParameterAsText(1)
asCSV = arcpy.GetParameterAsText(2)

#Create a search cursor of selected records
cur = arcpy.SearchCursor(tablename)

#loop over selected elements and print the values
if asCSV == "true":
    csv = []
    for row in cur:
    #Print to dialog as a CSV-style Python list (string)
    arcpy.AddMessage("  {0} from {1}: \n  {2}".format(fieldname,tablename, [item.encode('ascii') for item in csv] ))

    arcpy.AddMessage("  {0} from {1}:".format(fieldname,tablename))
    #Print each item on a new line
    for row in cur:
        print row.getValue(fieldname)
        arcpy.AddMessage("  {0}".format(row.getValue(fieldname)))

del row, cur

This isn't exactly what you are looking for, but the pythonaddins module is probably the closest you are going to get:

lyr = pythonaddins.GetSelectedTOCLayerOrDataFrame()

The caveat, of course, is that this module can only be used in a Python addin (not toolbox!).

I think you'll have to look into ArcObjects and see if a method/function there can help you.

  • Yeah, I was thinking this would be a good fit for an interactive Python Addin button or tool, too, hence why I was hoping to find a way to identify the active field. Sep 23, 2015 at 22:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.