When I copy features from one layer in ArcGIS Pro to a blank layer, the polygons are transferred, but the attribute table behind those features is not transferred.

To give a specific example, I downloaded a counties file from a public data site (Ohio Department of Transportation). Small background: I work with a specific subset of counties within the state, so I want to create a basemap that allows me to filter just on those subset of counties. I also want an exploratory map that is the entire state. So, with the counties file, I want to be able to create a layer that is just my subset of counties, and another layer that merges all our counties into just the state boundary.

This first image shows all the counties along with the attribute table headers.

Counties example with attribute table

When I select all the features from the layer above and paste that into a blank .shp layer, I get this: Incomplete attribute table

In that example, the attribute table did not carry over, instead it makes me a virtually blank table. I know that FID is associated with each feature, but then it just has Polygon for the entire shape column (which makes sense) and "0" for each row in the ID column.

I get no options on either table to add or edit fields. I feel as though I am clearly doing this operation incorrectly.

What are the correct steps to create a new layer from a set of selected features so that attributes are retained? Is this not possible in ArcGIS Pro the way it was in ArcMap?

  • 1
    Are you sure this was possible in ArcMap?
    – Bera
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 18:32
  • What do you mean by "a blank .shp layer"? What were the precise steps that you used to create that?
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 18:38
  • Touché. It might not be blank. I created it in ArcCatalog because that's the method I was taught while using ArcMap. ArcCatalog > File > New > Shapefile. Polygon as geometry, local coordinate system chosen. Now that I've looked through the Feature Class items that others have posted as answers, that does appear to be the best way to go about it moving forward in Pro.
    – cwollett
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 19:05
  • It sounds like you created an empty shapefile. That only results in a layer when you add it to a map.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 20:48

4 Answers 4


You could also try:

Select the features you want to copy to a new layer. Click on that layer in the TOC > Data > Export Features. Select a location for the Output Feature Class and click Run. This will export only the selected features along with all data in the attribute table.

  • I had some issues with this particular method. When I export features and hit run, it only exports the first selected feature even though I may have multiple selected. It highlights the entire set of features as expected, but for some reason does not give them all the symbology defined on the new class.
    – cwollett
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 19:14
  • 2
    thats odd, I do this workflow a lot actually and never encountered your issue. what PRO version are you running?
    – NULL.Dude
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 19:55
  • 2.2.2. It's probably user error. Still fairly new to the application and trying to wrap my head around everything. I'll have to try this method again next time I need to do this.
    – cwollett
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 19:02
  • Yeah, I'm not sure what would cause the error you ran into. This is the standard way that I always export a subset of features to a new shapefile. I'd give it another try next time around.
    – lambertj
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 19:55


  1. Create an empty feature class using Create Feature Class with the fc you are trying to copy from as template. You will then get all fields. Maybe it is possible to copy paste at this point when all fields match, if not:
  2. Use append tool to append your selected features including all attributes to the empty fc

There's not any one correct way to create a new layer from a set of selected features. One easy way, though, is to choose Make Layer From Selected Features. This has the benefit of retaining your symbology (though you can modify it afterward) without duplicating data on disk.

enter image description here

This is a long-time feature in ArcMap and looks like it made it into Pro at version 2.1.


you can use of the union (analysis) tools

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.