I am using ArcGIS Desktop 10.4.

I have access to an .mxd file with a bunch of point locations placed on the map project as graphics. I'd like to convert these to features. I am aware of "Convert Graphics to Features" command under drawing (http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/latest/map/page-layouts/converting-graphics-into-features.htm). However, no matter what I try (selecting, not selecting the elements; layout or data view), I am unable to get the command to be accessible (ie. not grayed out). I believe the problem is because the graphics were originally drawn on the layout view and the conversion seems to require they be on the data view.

Is there a way to transfer these graphics to the data view?


1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, you won't be able to export graphics that have been created in layout view into geographic features. This is because when graphics are created in layout view, they have no relation to the spatial reference the map is defined in. In other words, the graphics one creates in the layout view is for layout purposes only (adding some redlining or notes) and not for geographic data storage.

You can copy/paste the graphics from layout view into the data view but they won't be placed right because the only information they have about the position is pixels in terms of the size of layout paper.

As you have figured out, the export of graphics into features works only for graphics drawn in the data view and the data view should be active for this option to be available.

Your best shot is to digitize the points while being in the layout view - you can start editing session and create new point features while being in layout view.

  • Thank you. Of course the limitation of the layout view is important. In my case, I did end up selecting the grapics in layout view and then pasting them into the data view successfully. If the scales are the same (this can be set), it is a simple task to move all the selected symbols with the cursor to adjust for X and Y locations. It is true that this is not a very precise method, but for my purposes of making a simple locator map, it was sufficient.
    – Tom
    Sep 25, 2018 at 19:09
  • Ah, glad it worked for you to copy/paste them - well done! Sep 26, 2018 at 9:19

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