I need to convert an active kmz file to shapefile. I have a layer file and a kmz file which feed data from a server. If I try to convert using the kml to layer tool in ArcMap it fails as there is no underlying data. I am also not able to export the layer file to a shapefile for the same reason. Both the layer and the kmz file work well as the data is being fed directly from the online server. A few posts suggested using Arcmap2SLD but this crashes as soon as I try to run it. I have tried running it on a couple of computers with no luck. I am running Windows 7.

I'm attaching an image of a couple of kmz files loaded into Google Earth Pro. The first two are ordinary kml files. The last one (in Temporary Places) is an active kmz file which link directly to an online server (in this instance a government server). You can see this by the difference in the icons.kmz icon examples

  • Can you explain what you mean when you say the kmz file is fed data from a server? Is it using a network link? The KML to Layer tool should be able to read the network link.
    – KHibma
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 15:04
  • do you have the kml url? your will need to see if it raster or vector.
    – Mapperz
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 18:23
  • I loaded the url but it is difficult to tell whether this is a raster or vector file. I think the problem is that essentially the layer file and the corresponding kmz files are empty and only serve as a vehicle for the data rather than containing the data itself. I suppose I have answered my own question and it will therefore not be possible to export or save this as a shapefile. Thanks for getting back to me though!
    – Marycee
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 19:00
  • Yeah, thats a raster or some sort of overlay. Depending on how its referenced ArcGIS will or wont be able to figure out where it lives on the earth. thus the error msg you get. I'm betting its some combination of the particular overlay + it being a network link causing the problem
    – KHibma
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 19:41

2 Answers 2


It seems to that your .kml file might just link to a WMS (Web Mapping Service.) To find out, you can open you kml in a text editor, then look for an URL within the document. Look for WMS in the URL.

If it's a WMS layer, then you cannot save it as a shapefile. WMS servers take the client request and push composite rasters back. However, if you are lucky, whoever serves the WMS layer also serves it as a WFS (Web Feature Server) and you can save that as a shapefile. WFS layers serve the actual vector data. You might be able to change WMS to WFS to get it to work. If you can get to the meta data stage, it might just the URL for the WFS.

I know this sounds crazy and it may not work for you. But it did actually work for me once.


It's odd, usually WMS are the kinds of data fetched online. If you can manage to identify where that KMZ is hosted either locally or remotely, it's just a few clicks away in QGIS -> add layer -> load it -> right click -> save as

  • Thanks for responding. I have attached an image which explains my problem. I have tried adding the kmz to QGIS but I get an error message saying that the format is not supported/
    – Marycee
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 18:01
  • The layer file that I have also feeds directly off the online server.
    – Marycee
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 18:02
  • I see. Did you try unzipping the KMZ with an archive manager like 7zip? Sometimes the problem is only in the compression used, a KMZ is just a zipped KML after all.
    – Allison R
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 18:20
  • I did try unzipping the file. I reloaded into QGIS and received this error message: Data source is invalid (ERROR Parseing kml C:\Users\kskead\Documents\Geologia_Geologia.kml :This file does not fit the OGR model, there is no container element at the root
    – Marycee
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 18:55
  • It's not that odd, some people want to view WMS on Google Earth, and packaging a service or set of services in a KML file helps take the manual process out of adding such data manually.
    – nmtoken
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 9:30

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