This morning when I opened my .mxd (ArcGIS version 10.2.2) several shapefiles were not showing in the data view window or selectable. Zoom to layer also did not work. The attributes of the shapefile are not missing and no error message was shown. But when I checked the shapefile data I noticed that the .xml files were missing of these shapefiles.

I tried this 'how to recover a corrupt data file': http://support.esri.com/en/technical-article/000007161

After trying option nr 6, I can now open the shapefile in QGIS, but the GCS is way off. Does somebody know how to fix this?

2 Answers 2


The .xml file is the metadata file. An XML/metadata file is not a compulsory file needed to form shapefiles. The minimum files needed are:

.shp — shape format; the feature geometry itself

.shx — shape index format; a positional index of the feature geometry to allow seeking forwards and backwards quickly

.dbf — attribute format; columnar attributes for each shape, in dBase IV format

It sounds like the projection file maybe corrupt or needs replacing. If so, from the windows explorer, delete the .prj file. Then using ArcMap/ArcCatalog, use the Define Projection geoprocessing tool to reset the GCS.

  • Thanks! It was indeed the projection file that was corrupt. Deleting all files exept the 3 mentioned above and re loading this file with the correct GCS did the trick.
    – A. Heij
    Oct 23, 2017 at 9:09

Redefine projection with Arc Toolbox, under "Projections and Transformations"

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