I'm running ArcGIS 10.3.1. and desire to list layers in the current mxd. I'm using the "CURRENT" method...


...within a python script tool, accessed via a single ArcMap session with the environment setting set to foreground processing. The usage is correct (identical to the help) and has worked for me last year. why would a foreground process fail to find the single mxd that it's being run from?

Link Esri ArcGIS 10.3 Help: Map Documents

enter image description here

    import arcpy
    mxd = arcpy.mapping.MapDocument("CURRENT")
    for lyr in arcpy.mapping.ListLayers(mxd):
    del mxd
    arcpy.AddMessage(" ... current mxd ")

enter image description here

  • 1
    I think I know what is going on here but I think it will be much clearer if you can replace the picture of code with code as text that has been formatted using the {} button. However, can you also remove the try/except block from any code presented here because that masks the errors that Python provides to help you and us debug.
    – PolyGeo
    Mar 31, 2016 at 7:23
  • Having the error message as text will be helpful to future searches like this one: gis.stackexchange.com/search?q=createobject+%5Barcpy%5D.
    – PolyGeo
    Mar 31, 2016 at 8:12

1 Answer 1


Thinking of an earlier Q&A, I was going to say that the Python script tool is running in a separate process from ArcMap, but when I tested your code in ArcMap at ArcGIS 10.4 for Desktop it ran without a problem.

I think you should try closing ArcMap, and perhaps even rebooting, and then re-opening ArcMap to run your test again. This would eliminate the possibility that another process is somehow conflicting with yours.

Also, double-check that you have Run Python script in process checked. When I ran it as below I got an error, but it was different to yours.

enter image description here

Executing: test2 Start Time: Thu Mar 31 18:31:37 2016 Running script test2... ERROR 000714: Error in script test2. Error in executing: cmd.exe /C C:\Temp\test.py "#"

Failed to execute (test2). Failed at Thu Mar 31 18:31:48 2016 (Elapsed Time: 10.77 seconds)

Alternatively, as you have commented, and done successfully:

run a repair and remove your templates


Problem solved: I deleted the normal template [(Normal.mxt)], created a new mxd, and the script worked as designed.

  • I had thought the same and had rebooted and repaired my ArcGIS Install. Bit it still had issues. I tested the "Run Python script in process" in both states, it was not fruitful in any case. I'll get a co worker to test it as well.
    – GISI
    Apr 1, 2016 at 2:38
  • @GISI Is there any chance that you may be trying to run this tool from ArcCatalog (to save the overhead of ArcMap)? gis.stackexchange.com/questions/39119/…
    – PolyGeo
    Apr 1, 2016 at 3:04
  • Nope. No chance at all, it's always run via ArcMap.
    – GISI
    Apr 1, 2016 at 3:06
  • I've had a coworker run this and they did not have problems. Therefore it's a problem with my ArcGIS Desktop Install. Despite running repairs, I'm not sure how to fix it.
    – GISI
    Apr 1, 2016 at 3:10
  • @GISI I wonder whether you are inadvertently running a different Python setup than what you think. I try to avoid playing around with PYTHONPATH etc but if you do a full uninstall of ArcGIS for Desktop, and remove any Python remnants, then reinstalling ArcGIS for Desktop with its Python may just fix it.
    – PolyGeo
    Apr 1, 2016 at 3:14

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