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Using ArcMap 10.3, I am trying to clip some features using a polygon containing many census boundaries. I only want a specific census area as the clip feature, so I only have that specific shape showing. However, when I run the clip tool, it clips for the entire polygon and not just the small area I have selected. Is there a way to do this other than extracting that particular area as a separate shapefile?

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If you have an active selection on your census boundaries dataset, when you run the clip tool on another dataset, it will be clipped to the extent of the selected census boundary feature. If you were to select multiple features in the Census feature class, the input features would be clipped to the shape of all census areas selected

Using this method will save you having to create layers from a selection.

To make sure the process is clear:

  1. Make a selection on the Census feature class (red features in image below - selection highlighted blue.
  2. Open the Clip tool.
  3. Choose the feature class you would like to be clipped in the 'Input Features' box of the Clip tool window (Black polygons with blue shading below).
  4. Choose the Census feature class (which has an active selection) as the 'Clip Features'.
  5. Set your 'Output Feature Class'.
  6. Click 'OK' enter image description here
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Right click, go to Selection-->Create Layer from Selected Features and run the clip on that. The newly created layer is just created as a temp, but you can run analysis and clip that feature.

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