How do I convert MapInfo TAB and/or MIF files to SHP using only free tools or ArcGIS itself?

I've not had much luck trying to do this in the past and I don't want to have to shell out for the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension which seems to be the 'official' way to go about this.

  • 2
    Or you can export it as an MapInfo (.mif) file and open it in QGIS. Then you can do anything you wish. Long live opensource software... :)
    – user22030
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 9:26

15 Answers 15


You can also do this with QGIS. Basically, QGIS acts as a GUI for ogr2ogr.

Just load the Mapinfo file, right-click the layer in TOC and go to "Save as ..." where you can chose from many output formats.

  • To load the Mapinfo file in QGIS, what are the options to choose? Vector... and is it the .TAB or the .MAP file that needs to be loaded? Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 16:02

You can use ogr2ogr:

ogr2ogr -f 'ESRI Shapefile' output.shp input.mif

NB: For Windows, use double quotes around the driver name: ogr2ogr -f "ESRI Shapefile" output.shp input.mif

To handle different geometries in one file in one pass (windows example):

for %%a in (linestring point polygon) do ogr2ogr -skipfailures -nlt %%a outdir\%%a input.tab

Or in Linux (Bash):

for a in linestring point polygon; do ogr2ogr -skipfailures -nlt $a outdir/$a input.tab; done
  • 7
    If you have different geometries in the MapInfo file, you need to generate several shapefiles, e.g. ogr2ogr -f 'ESRI Shapefile' -skipfailures -nlt LINESTRING output.shp input.tab. (Substitute LINESTRING with POLYGON and POINT as needed.) Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 14:10
  • 1
    On windows you also need double quotes around "ESRI Shapefile"
    – Gerd K
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 9:43

George is correct, although for me, the toolbar is named ArcView 8x Tools.

For TAB files, ogr is pretty handy as well, and will handle lots of formats - Link

ogr2ogr - Link

Easiest install is probably with FWTools - http://fwtools.maptools.org/windows-main.html

  • true :P thats the correct name of the tool. Commented Jul 23, 2010 at 17:54
  • 2
    fwtools is not being actively developed anymore, focus has shifted to osgeo4w, select Express install or ensure the gdal package is selected if using Advanced install. Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 19:24

Go to mapinfo, under TOOLS click universal translator and choose which format you want your file to convert to. this works!

  • 2
    This is correct although IIRC it is possible to install MapInfo without installing the Universal Translator, though you'd have to be a fool or a masochist to do so.
    – Mr_Chimp
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 13:16

You can also download and use FME at www.safe.com

Or check out the free online file converter at http://fmeserver.com/userweb/sharper/Portal/EasyTranslator/index.html

which provides standard file translation as a free service. It doesn't leverage the transformation capabilities of FME but hey it is free with nothing to install.

  • the free online service is interesting, but only of use if your in and out spatial references are one of 3 (Texas State Plane, UTM Zone 14, or unprojected wgs84). Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 18:47

If you want to do it in batch, have a look at http://www.ogr2gui.ca/en/index.php. As ogr2ogr in any mentioned before would not do it in batch. Also in ArcCatalog there are conversion tools, which will do MIFtoSHP, also single and batch. Though I would recommend Ogr2ogr. Cheers.

  • Having a command line tool, it is easy to write your own scripts that do exactly what you want with it (batch convertions too). Also if you write such things as you would recommend ogr2ogr over Arc, please tell why. Other than link to GUI for OGR (okey, someone might find useful), I wouldn't say that your answer has given any value to the already closed issue. Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 11:40
  • 1
    1. Not all people can write scripts for batching and also since there is user friendly GUI (free), why would you write additional script. 2. Ogr2ogr either command line or with GUI over Arc converter, as it supports .tab. Also in the past I had some problems with batching .mif in Arc. 3. I guess since Mykolas decided, that in the end link to OGR GUI may be useful, I will not elaborate longer on the value of my anwser.
    – Tomek
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 14:17

For ArcGIS up to 9.3, go to ArcCatalog, click with the right button at any toolbar and choose ArcView 8x Tools.

There is a MIF converter there.

  • what version of ArcGIS can you do this?
    – artwork21
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 11:44
  • Didn't find this in ArcGIS 10. Also, Interoperability Tools didn't work (possibly a license issue, the error message wasn't very informative.) Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 14:11
  • Also see this answer in Esri forums (links to instructions, checking license availability, and how to get a 60 day trial (easier to use ogr2ogr though, unless there's other stuff you need to do too) Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 19:01

Apart from OGR2GUI and MapInfo Universal Translator and Esri Data Interoperability, there is a way to convert MIF/MID files into shapefiles without having anything else than ArcGIS for Desktop (any license level) installed.

In the C:\Program Files (x86)\ArcGIS\Desktop10.3\Bin, there is a utility called avmifshp.exe which will do the trick. Keep in mind that you would need to define the coordinate system on your own afterwards. You will need to re-define the styles and labels etc (coming from .map file, which cannot be converted with this utility into .mxd) on your own while creating a new ArcGIS map document.

For more details on the usage, look here at this blog post. I have tested the workflow and it works great.


You can download a free version of MapInfo - basically older versions which are no longer supported. Included with them is Universal Translator which will make conversions from TAB or MID/MIF to Shapefiles for ArcMap.

  • Which version is this and where to find it? Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 8:20
  • a free version of MapInfo Pro?? Well, there is the 30 day trial versions. Is that what you are suggesting? Other "free versions" more sound like "cracked versions" to me. Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 18:59

A few options:

  1. Safe FME desktop for files - not the esri edition. The file edition is cheaper than the esri interop extension.
  2. MapInfo Pro - buy a copy for less than the ESRI interoperability extension
  3. CADCorp Desktop GIS
  4. OGR to OGR - fiddly and some issues

Feel like this should be shared since I don't see it mentioned in the plethora of answers already present. There is a great piece of software out there called Alteryx with a free trial that very easily converts just about anything to anything else when it comes to databases and spatial data. I have converted .tab to .shp rather seamlessly in a matter of seconds with this method.


  • A valid suggestion, I'd love to see it in action. I thought ESRI was expensive...
    – cndnflyr
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 12:46

I've not used this but have you tried the MIF2SHP tool from http://software.geocomm.com/translators/arcview/

  • the mif2shp tool is an arcview3 extension, so can't be run standalone. Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 18:38

Opening in QGIS and saving it as shape file is an easiest option, but the output is slightly shifted, don't know why. But if you use FME quick translator an builtin translator inside Mapinfo professional, the results seems to be perfect. Don't know, when OGR2OGR library is going to updated to fix this issue. I tried a TAB file in BNG projection to be converted as SHP with same projection, but there is a shift.

  • Please, edit your answer and fix your grammar. Try to avoid 'donno' or ':('
    – aldo_tapia
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 12:16

You can try this way. Open ArcCatalog in ArcMap, go to Toolboxes / System Toolboxes / To Shapefile / Feature class to Shapefile (multiple). Then choose the input file (Tab file) and Output folder. That's it.

  • Welcome to the GIS SE, please take the tour: gis.stackexchange.com/tour, it will give you some hints into what is expected in questions and answers. Could you perhaps expand on this answer. Following your instructions did not yield a result. What version of Arc were you using, are those all the steps? I think you missing the "Conversion Toolbox", when I tried to run the tool on my TAB files they did not appear in my 10.6 dialog. Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 0:18


En este link pueden encontrar 3 alternativas para exportar archivos .TAB a SHAPEFILE. Las tres alternativas son OpenSource. Probe la solución con QGIS, funciona bien.


In this link you can find 3 alternatives to export .TAB files to SHAPEFILE. The three alternatives are OpenSource. Try the solution with QGIS, it works fine.

Converting data between MapInfo and ArcGIS https://karlhennermann.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/converting-data-between-mapinfo-and-arcgis/#comment-1442

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