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I have a layer with polygons I have to cut smaller. I also have another layer with the shapes of the polygons I have to use for cutting out some pieces of the polygons on the first layer.

I tried to read the help on "cutting holes in existing polygons" and for some reason I can't do it.

If you're already answering, maybe you could tell me also how can I just cut a hole in existing polygon by freehand?

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You can cut a polygon and create hole/holes in several ways:

  1. If you want to do it manually, you can use Cut Polygon Tool, as you can see below,

enter image description here

  • Select the polygon and use Cut polygon Tool to draw the polygon you want
  • Before finish the sketched polygon, you need to to enable Snap to Sketch in the snapping toolbar to close the sketched polygon properly, then hit F2 or finish sketch, as you can see below:

enter image description here

  • Then select the polygon you drew in step 2 and hit delete, and save edits.

enter image description here

  1. If you want to create a hole based on another polygon you can use Erase Tool, but it requires advanced license, or you can use Union tool, and select the polygon that represents the hole and delete it.
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I would suggest you use the Clip tool in ArcGIS.

The input features would be your Polygon features that you want to have the many holes and the clip feature would be he Polygon feature that has the shapes of those holes.

Extracts input features that overlay the clip features.

Use this tool to cut out a piece of one feature class using one or more of the features in another feature class as a cookie cutter. This is particularly useful for creating a new feature class—also referred to as study area or area of interest (AOI)—that contains a geographic subset of the features in another, larger feature class.

enter image description here

Keep in mind

When the Input Features are polygons, the Clip Features must also be polygons.

When the Input Features are lines, the Clip Features can be lines or polygons. When clipping line features with line features, only the coincident lines or line segments are written to the output, as shown in the graphic below.

When the Input Features are points, the Clip Features can be points, lines, or polygons. When clipping point features with point features, only the coincident points are written to the output, as shown in the graphic below. When clipping point features with line features, only the points that are coincident with the line features are written to the output.

  • I worked but when I tried to cut some more after clipping I couldn't select the correct layer anymore. Why would that be? – M.P. Jan 18 '17 at 21:57
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    Correct tool for what you describe is erase – FelixIP Jan 18 '17 at 22:08
  • @M.P. Do you have a screen shot of what you mean "when I tried to cut some more after clipping I couldn't select the correct layer anymore"? – whyzar Jan 18 '17 at 22:19

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