In ArcGIS I have used to share a shapefile (for example beach areas) by sending a package that contains different files (.shp, .shx, .prj, .cpg, .dbf, .sbn, .xml) which contains all necessary properties for the shapefile. So far everyone has been happy.

But now I got NetCDF file of average wind speed. I successfully imported it from ArcToolbox -> Multidimensional Tools -> Make NetCDF Raster Layer. From layer properties I changed the "Color ramp" to be "red to blue", so that blue color is 3 m/s and red is 8 m/s.

Now, what is the proper way to export/save that wind speed raster layer? So that I could send it by e-mail and everyone could see the same colorful picture and the "color ramp." Is GeoTIFF-format mostly used? Or is there something better for sharing raster layer?

  • There is little difference between sending a shapefile without a layerfile and sending a raster (either NetCDF or GeoTIFF). Neither system preserves symbology. If you want to preserve symbology, you need to include the .lyr file in the bundle (and then the receivers must use it).
    – Vince
    Aug 29, 2019 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


If it's to share a colorful map, creating a layout and exporting to PDF or JPG will do the the job.

The pro are :

  • it will probably result in a smaller file (good for email)
  • you can add a legend and other label
  • People don't need to use any specialized tool to view it

The con :

  • It is now just a picture (note that a PDF can retain some geographic properties so accessing coordinate and making measurement are still possible), so the people who receive it can't use it to do further analysis

Or as said by Vince in comment you could share it the same way as shapefile with an added .lyr for the symbology

  • So the proper way to share a raster layer is to: 1) Right Click on Layer -> Save As Layer File -> Save; 2) Right Click on Layer -> Data -> Export Data -> Use renderer : ok, Force RGB: ok, Format: jpg/geotiff/jpg etc Then ZIP/RAR everything and send by e-mail to friend, who opens the archive and clicks on .lyr file and sees the same picture with color ramp?
    – fred
    Aug 29, 2019 at 15:31
  • Almost, but the .lyr also reference the data source (file path) so it wont open on another computer unless it's in the exact same location. Your friend will have to load the raster then right click>properties and on the symbology tab load the .lyr. Also if you create the .lyr first then convert your raster to another format the .lyr may not work on the new format
    – J.R
    Aug 29, 2019 at 16:06

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