I need to clip a large and very detailed shapefile in QGIS showing environmental data similar to a temperature map.

Is there something like the very simple crop tool like in Adobe Photoshop where you can drag a rectangle over an area of interest and crop the shapefile to this area only?

I do have an additional shapefile of neighborhoods/districts that I could also use for cropping but I do not know how to specify "extract a shp/kml only within the borders of district X, row xxxxx in the attribute table of districts.shp"

How can I extract the data primitively within a rectangle of choice or per district?

I need smaller pieces from the large map that has been provided by an environmental geo-institute to be implemented into an mobile Application (Android) to view the quite heavy data in a lighter way.

I made some screenshots of the data and posted them here: http://merglindev.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/extracting-districts-from-big-shapefile-data/.

You can see the districts and the data layers. I need to have every district as a separate file / separately export every dataset per district to KML.

3 Answers 3


You say you have a shapefile with appropriate regions, so you can use that for cutting. In the parlance of QGIS, it sounds like you are after Vector->Geoprocessing Tools -> Clip. If you need to assign the data from the input layer to smaller units in the region layer, you could intersect or union instead, in the same menu.

edit (by Kurt): here is an image for clarification: enter image description here yellow: input layer (china) green: clipmask-layer violett: clipped output-layer

  • 6
    just make sure, that both layers (original layer and layer, which you use for clipping) use the same projection (crs)
    – Kurt
    Oct 21, 2012 at 22:45
  • if i choose input vector layer "my_road_geodata" and use as a intersect layer "districts_2011" it processes a while but i don't see the difference to the original. "Union" just crashed my QGIS :( In the end I would like to export just one district x in combination with the "my_road_geodata" - is there any tutorial out there?
    – birgit
    Oct 21, 2012 at 22:46
  • 3
    Are you saying you are clipping a line (road) layer with a polygon layer? And are you after just ONE polygon area for your output, or multiple?
    – ako
    Oct 21, 2012 at 23:47
  • It is not a line layer. The "my_road_geodata" shows zones of noise pollution in the form of filled polygons, like in this webapp si2.nl/eu-kaarten/rdam - when cutting it by districts I just want to get the same map but cut in small puzzle pieces... so extracting the areas one by one and saving them in a file like district01 district02 ... would be what I am aiming for
    – birgit
    Oct 22, 2012 at 8:14
  • In QGIS 2.16 this it in the Processing Toolbox under QGIS Geoalgorithms > Vector Overlay tools > Clip
    – chip
    Aug 24, 2016 at 15:25

To create a new clip layer from scratch (In your case the rectangle).

Layer > New > New Shapefile layer (create blank vector object)

In layers menu: Right click on layer > toggle editing > use capture points, capture lines & capture polygons to create your customized new layer.


See this helpful answer, watch to the very end Custom Clipping in QGIS

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