I am coming from ArcMap. Working in the layout view, I had buttons to zoom/pan data and other buttons to zoom/pan the view itself. In QGIS, I can't seem to be able to achieve this. The only buttons I have are for zooming/panning the view not the data(the same happens when I use the mouse scroll wheel).

Any way to achieve this?

  • 3
    At 3.8.2, the ONLY way that I can zoom in/out the data is to manually type in a scale value in the Map's Item Properties > Main Properties > Scale. ALL of the Zoom buttons (eg those with any sort of a magnifying glass appearance) act on the view, not the data.
    – Stu Smith
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 20:49
  • RE "ONLY way:" Maybe this is the developer's way of suggesting that a layout should have well-defined scale. Often the purpose of a layout is to produce a hard copy. If the hard copy does not have a "neat" scale, then it is difficult to use mechanical tools (e.g., an engineer's scale) to analyze the map.
    – Ana Nimbus
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 19:32

6 Answers 6


You can pan the map by first selecting it. Then using the "Move item content" tool:

enter image description here

While this tool is active as well you can also use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out on the map.

  • 1
    No, this tool moves the whole map. I want to pan/zoom only the data. Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 11:19
  • That tool DOES pan and zoom the data. You are probably using the tool one to the left. Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 14:03

You just have to use the "Move item content" tool

enter image description here

  • This tool works, but if you have a rectangle surrounding the map, it does nothing. It seems to pick the rectangle and I could not get it to pick the map. After I unchecked the rectangle in the layout, turning it off, it worked as expected.
    – Malcolm
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 13:54
  • 1
    like @malcom I couldn't get the map content to move. I'd select the "Move item content" tool but clicking and dragging had no effect. After a long time I figured out the map frame was locked. So try Items >> Unlock All (Ctrl-Shift-L) if this happens to you too. Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 4:54

There are a series of buttons under Item Properties that allow you to zoom in on data in map. I just had success using the leftmost button (in orange rectangle) "Set Map Extent to Match Main Canvas Extent."

The process looks like this 1. In main QGIS window, zoom to extent you want to use in Print Layout. 2. In Print Layout window, click "Set Map Extent to Match Main Canvas Extent" 3. See if Print Layout looks ok. If not, repeats steps 1 and 2 until you are satisfied.

"Move Item Content" button (blue square) did not work for me. It only repositioned the map inside the layout.

I did have some success with "Interactively Edit Map Content" button (green square) but it zoomed too much with one mouse wheel scroll. Green button and blue button have the same logo which is confusing.

I am using QGIS 3.8.3-Zanzibar

QGIS screenshot highlighting map extent tools

  • As @Ludooohh mentioned, use "CTRL + scroll" to do a fine-zoom to avoid zooming too much.
    – Mike T
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 21:20

You need to

  • select the map item with the white arrow icon (the one to the left of HeikkiVesanto's answer) called "Select/move item",
  • and only then you can use the "move item contents" icon.

From there you can

  • scroll to zoom in/out
  • CTRL + scroll (or on macOS ⌘ + scroll) to do a fine-zoom
  • click and drag to pan
  1. select the dataframe
  2. activate the "Move item content" tool
  3. Ctrl + Mouse Wheel to zoom in/out for the data in the selected dataframe!
  • this works. But how can I pan?
    – Theo F
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 15:06
  • Does the "Move Item Content" button work?
    – smile4lee
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 16:01

New to this forum, adding a comment as an answer since I cannot add a comment. Hope this is not inappropriate.

@deeproyalblue answers the original poster's question. I also am a newbie to QGIS, coming from ArcMap, and hit a brick wall trying to achieve this basic task.

As far as I can tell, the relevant guidance does not mention this important functionality:

22.1 Overview of the Print Layout Please let me know if I am missing something.

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    Commented Apr 11 at 16:44
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    Commented Apr 11 at 17:24

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