I'm running ArcMap 10.3 and trying to create a new copy of a layer in my map document, which I can do, but when I load the new copy back into my map, the TOC displays its name as the old file from which I copied it, not the new filename.

For example, say I want to create a new version of Layer X that's currently in my map and call the new version Layer Y. I simply right click Layer X, select "Save As Layer File", specify folder destination, and click Save. When I click "Add Data" to bring it into my map, the Add Data dialog box displays the correct/new name (Layer Y in this case), but when I select it to bring it into my map, my TOC will now display 2 Layer X's (the original + the new one I just brought in) instead of the original Layer X and the new Layer Y. I have successfully done this before, so I know it's possible - especially given that it's not a particularly advanced geoprocessing step.

Just curious if anyone else has run into this and how I can get around it?

2 Answers 2


Layer files are just pointer files that store reference info and properties for a layer, it is not a layer copy.

A layer file (.lyr) is a file that stores the path to a source dataset and other layer properties, including symbology.

FAQ: What is the difference between a shapefile and a layer file?

This is why when you add it back into the map it displays the original name and not the layer file name (check out the source path of the added layer file in layer Properties>Source tab). If you want a true copy of a layer right click the source layer in the TOC and select Data>Export and export to a new layer. Alternatively, you may open up Catalog tree and copy and paste layers to make copies.


The TOC display comes from the properties of the layer, not the file name. They are often the same, but you have to change the name there, then save it out.

BTW, if you want to add a more meaningful name for a layer that is too long for legends, group the layer and change the group name. Then you have complete control.

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