I have a set of ~100 polygons in ArcMap 10.2.2 that were generated using the minimum bounding geometry tool.

I have a second set of ~800 polygons generated the same way. What I need to know is for each individual polygon in set 1, how many polygons from set 2 does it overlap with.

I know I can use a tool like 'intersect' but this will produce a list of all unique combinations of overlapping polygons which would be a hugely cumbersome output for a 100 by 800 data set.

Is there a way to get ArcGIS to simply return the number of polygons that each polygon overlaps with rather than a huge list of all unique intersections?

  • If you have workstation Arc/Info, you can use REGIONPOLYCOUNT, a useful command that never lived past 1999. Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 18:52
  • 80k rows is trivial to GIS. I regularly process tens of millions of points against hundreds of thousands of polygons, and usually don't have time to walk up the hall before the query is done.
    – Vince
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 2:35
  • Thanks for the suggestion, Kirk. And Vince, thanks for the encouragement (?). Unfortunately, on my laptop I would need a verrry long hallway. I have an intersect that has been running for awhile now and has written 100k rows.
    – lostinGIS
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 11:37

2 Answers 2


I think you want to use Spatial Join if all you need is a count. This will allow you to input your 100 polygons as the input and the 800 as the join. You can specify that you only care about the count.


I would suggest trying this approach I came across from another post.

Using the intersect tool, you can then use the results found in the attribute table in the FID field to then form a Relate. Then you compare the Intersect results layer back to the original layer.

Here are the steps you might follow:
1. Intersect tool on the source layer;
2. Use the resulting layer to the source layer, based on the FID_ and OBJECTID columns respectively;
3. Select all records in the resulting layer;
4. In the attribute table of the resulting layer, use the Related Table button to select the related shapes: these are the original shapes, as wanted.

Documentation on:

Intersect Tool

Joins and Relates

Fundamentals of Object Fields

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