I want to change the extent of one of my shapefiles(lets call it A) to the same extent of another shapefile(B) but I can't seem to do it. I tried using the 'recalculate feature class extent' and changing the processing extent under Environments from Default to shapefile B's extent. I, of course made sure the input feature was shapefile A. I clicked OK and checked the extent of shapefile A but there was no change.

What can I do to change the extent?

  • I suppose that shapefile extent is the aggregated extent of the features and setting it to anything else would be harmful. – user30184 Mar 18 '17 at 10:58
  • No, not harmful, just misleading. Knowing the header format, I'd hack the first 100 bytes of the .shp and .shx files, but editing the file to add a shape of the required extent and then deleting it would be the supported means. – Vince Mar 18 '17 at 11:11
  • What if you set extent so that some features are not within, and some software rely on that and skips the shapefile because obviously the region of interest does not contain data? – user30184 Mar 18 '17 at 11:31
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    It's clearly unwise to set the extent smaller than the actual data envelope, but making it larger only makes the spatial index slightly less efficient. – Vince Mar 18 '17 at 12:17
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    I think this is a variation on one of your other questions where the raster data isn't quite overlaying the vector data. Except this question is about two vector datafiles. Are they using the same coordinate system? Do they overlay? If they do overlay, why wouldn't clipping work? – mkennedy Mar 19 '17 at 0:09

If you are using ArcGIS Desktop 10.4 or later, and a license level of Standard or Advanced, then there is a tool available that enables you to Recalculate Feature Class Extent:

This tool recalculates the XY, Z, and M extent property of a feature class based on the features within the feature class.


Recalculate Feature Class Extent updates geodatabase feature classes or shapefiles (point, multipoint, line, or polygon).

However, as you have discovered, it uses the extent of features within the feature class, rather than the extent of another feature class, to do that recalculation.

As others have commented, it is hard to envisage a use case where you would want the extent stored with a shapefile to be other than the features that it contains. If you still think that you do then I would recommend describing that use case in more detail within your question.


You can change the extent manually by right clicking on the layer in the catalog view --> properties --> "Feature Extent" Tab. (ArcGIS Desktop 10.6.1).

I had this same issue when calculating euclidean distance from a road, where the buffer would end abruptly at the edge of the road layer's extent (which was smaller than my DEM extent)

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