I have an ArcGIS lyr file describing Tiled Internet Layer (according to Data Source tab in properties). This file was created in ArcGIS Online by defining a new tile layer and downloading it.

Everything is OK with it except the projection. ArcGIS Online sets the projection of any newly created layer as WGS_1984_Web_Mercator_Auxiliary_Sphere which is not correct in this case.

I need to change it to a proper one.

What i've already tried:

  • Change projection by redefining it via toolbox (Data Management -> Define Projection. This gave me an error in ArcMap.
  • Rough text edit of lyr file (by replacing a WKT-string with projection definition). This gave me an error when I'd tried to add it to a MXD (something like "Adding the selected layer file failed. Maybe it was created using a newer version of ArcGIS" which is not true)
  • Change projection in ArcGIS Online

Is there any way to change the projection of such layer?

  • 2
    A lyr file doesn't have any projection since it can't contain any data. The data it refers to can have a projection, but that is unrelated to your lyr file. However, if I take a guess on what you really mean is that you have a basemap layer? You can change coordinate system on it by right-clicking and "Change coordinate system". The list there is predefined, so it could be that your preferred system is not available.
    – Martin
    Nov 14, 2016 at 7:37
  • Yep, I know that lyr is only a "description" of original data. But a tiles itself don't have a projection so the only source of such data is this lyr file. Your way with "Change coordinate system" is unable to me because I don't have such option in menu in ArcGIS Online :( Nov 14, 2016 at 7:44
  • 1
    No, a lyr file is only a link file with predefined symbols for each source. What do you mean with lyr file in your question? What is your actual problem here? :)
    – Martin
    Nov 14, 2016 at 7:50
  • The real problem is the projection of the tiles. ArcGIS Online sets is to WGS_1984_Web_Mercator_Auxiliary_Sphere WKID: 3857 by default (and it's correct for 99% of tile services). But it's not in my case (the tiles have WGS_1984_World_Mercator WKID: 3395). This gives me a 20km shift. I want to fix it somehow. Lyr-file - a downloaded layer from ArcGIS Online. A common *.lyr file with no data and only link to it and symbology. In my case - with link to tile server. Nov 14, 2016 at 7:56

1 Answer 1


In arcmap, Use define projection tool in data management tools to define the projection of the the tiles as WGS_1984_Web_Mercator_Auxiliary_Sphere. Once that is done, use the Project tool to re-project them the projection you need. Note that the projection mention in the layer properties is not an actual projection as lyr files cannot be projected but a description of the projection used for the data within that layer. You can manually change the description to suite your use.

  • You cannot perform projection operations on layers. It is the data files in the that lyr (in this case, the tiles) that can be projected.
    – CwecU
    Nov 14, 2016 at 8:17
  • Unfortunately, I cannot redefine projection of tile service. This was my first action and I got a message "Failed to alter spatial reference" (which is absolutely correct - I can't change the source data which is not belong to me). So it seem to me that the only way to fix it is to "rewrite" the description of this data in lyr file. And i don't know how to do this. Nov 14, 2016 at 8:29
  • 1
    I think I get what you want to do now. However, I'm not convinced that changing the contents of the lyr file would do you any good (the lyr file can't do any reprojection). I think you'll have better luck taking this up with your local ESRI support team.
    – Martin
    Nov 14, 2016 at 9:00
  • Yes, the tile service is hosted on Esri servers and not your own computer so you cannot edit it as other people may be using the service. Contacting the team sounds great.
    – CwecU
    Nov 14, 2016 at 9:43
  • @Martin, tiles don't ship with any information about projection. WebMercator is just something like an industry standart. Such lyr file contain a link to the tiles and additional information - spatial reference, meta and so on. Imagine you have a shape-file. SHP itself doesn't give you any information abount projection, it's just coords in Cartesian coordinate system. And you have a PRJ file with explanation where this coords realy are. So in my case I have "SHP" as tiles somewhere in the Web, and "PRJ" - this lyr-file (because it's the only one source for such info). Nov 16, 2016 at 10:05

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