I'm new to QGIS.

I created a QGIS project, loaded 1 to 3 shapefiles via Add Vector Layer (from 2008 TIGER/Line Shapefiles http://www2.census.gov/cgi-bin/shapefiles/state-files). The maps look fine and I can interact with them.

Under Layer many of the "middle" options are available after loading the shapefile, e.g., Open Attribute Table, Toggle Editing, Save as ..., Properties.

I then save the project.

After closing QGIS and re-opening the project file, all of the layer options mentioned above (and a few others) are now greyed out and unavailable.

Are these options only available right after loading a shapefile? What good is a project file if one cannot interact with data saved with the project?

And why are the Edit options always greyed out and not available?

What am I missing?

Thanks for helping me understand QGIS.

  • 1
    That's not normal behavior. One reason for editing not being available would be that a subset query has been defined on the layer. Without seeing your project it's difficult to say what's wrong in you case.
    – underdark
    Jun 11, 2012 at 6:38
  • Do you have full rights on the folders where the project file and where the shapefiles are?
    – AndreJ
    Aug 10, 2012 at 19:29

2 Answers 2


You probably just didn't activate a layer. Some entries are only available when there is a layer activated and the layer supports the operation.

  • Sorry for my denseness. What does "activate a layer" mean? Let's say I create a new project. Add a new layer from a shapefile and save the project. I can interact with the layer right after adding it. But after saving the project and re-opening, I can see the layer, but most options aren't available anymore. How do I "activate" it?
    – efg2
    Jun 12, 2012 at 7:15
  • Click on a layer in the layer list.
    – jef
    Jun 13, 2012 at 6:03
  • Thanks for that clue, but there may be a bug. When I re-open the project, and display the layer list, the layer is selected and most of the "middle" layer options are not available. But after toggling the selection (off then back on) in the layer list the options are available -- what I was expecting. This is not at all obvious to me that re-opening a project would "look" different than when closed. Thanks for your help.
    – efg2
    Jun 14, 2012 at 15:32

I have a much easier time interacting with layers by right-clicking a layer, which brings up most of the items in the Layer menu as a context menu.

Also, to edit a layer, you have to explicitly activate that layer and choose Toggle Editing from its context menu or the Layer menu or the Edit button (looks like a pencil). This requires write access to the data as mentioned before. Once editing, you then have options to save edits and continue editing, or stop editing, which asks to save edits if needed.

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