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I'm brand new to GIS (and this site) so bear with me if there is an obvious answer for this but I've done a lot of looking and haven't found anything that worked.

I have two polygon layers that show the same waterway buffer for a large area but one is more extensive than the other. I want to subtract the smaller layer from the larger one so that I am left with the areas that are only covered by the larger. This seems like the type of problem that could be easily solved with the "erase tool" but I don't have access to that. The "select by location" seems to be a popular suggestion but I've played around with it and haven't gotten it to work. Also the two layers are not quite identical.

What should I do?

marked as duplicate by PolyGeo arcgis-desktop Mar 9 '16 at 21:25

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.


Use the Union tool and then select the set of features where the FID(s) of the polygon you want removed is -1. That will be the portion of the target polygon not overlapped by the other polygon. You can then export that shape, or use the Attribute Transfer tool to only transfer the geometry of the remainder parcel in the original feature class.

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