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I have a layer in ArcMap 10.2 that is one big shape made up of five smaller shapes. I need to create a layer with only four of those shapes, for the purpose of showing the difference in areas when the fifth shape is not included.

I've noticed that a simple copy and paste of the original shapefile back into the Table of Contents is not a good idea as any changes I seem to make to the new layer also affect the original layer. Is there a simple way to go about doing this? If it's relevant/useful I have the free version of XTools Pro.

marked as duplicate by Chris W, Paul, Mapperz Oct 1 '15 at 20:06

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  • Select your four shapes then right click layer 'save selection as' new shapefile will leave the original unchanged. – Mapperz Oct 1 '15 at 15:03
  • Layers/the ToC aren't data. They're views of data. You're not copying the shapefile with that method, you're copying the view. You'd need to copy the actual data/shapefile, which can be done with CSB's methods or just using Windows Explorer or ArcCatalog or even the ArcCatalog Window within ArcMap. Note you need to add this new copy as its own layer - export automatically prompts for this, other methods may not. – Chris W Oct 1 '15 at 19:31
  • @ChrisW thank you for the clarification, I did not realize that about the table of contents – Struggling Oct 1 '15 at 19:33
  • It's also worth pointing out that some of those methods will potentially alter the resulting copy, though not the original. For example, if you select four shapes and export them, in the new copy the shapes may not have the same FID/GUID as in the original. This gets into a discussion about the use of FIDs or potentially goes well beyond what you're asking about here, but it is something to be aware of - especially if you plan to do comparison operations between the originals and copies down the line. – Chris W Oct 1 '15 at 19:55

You can right click the layer, go down to "Data", in the next menu pick "Export Data..." That will allow you to make a copy of the file in a new location - just be sure to give it a new name. Then, in an edit session, you can go in and delete the part you don't want.

Or, you can select the four polygons you want before exporting the data, which will allow you to copy only those four over into the new file.

You can also copy and past the layer into the table of contents, and in one of the copies, right click > properties > symbology tab > categories > Unique values > highlight the one you'd like to remove > click the remove button beneath the sybology table of contents. That will give you the desired result without creating new files, or editing them.

  • easy enough, as i thought, thank you for the tips! – Struggling Oct 1 '15 at 15:08
  • A fourth way is to use the Definition Query tab to select all the features of interest (or unselect the features of disinterest) – Vince Oct 1 '15 at 15:19

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