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I have a very messy shapefile where some of the features are composed of many separate parts (spatially) but classed as one feature.

I need to delete all the tiny slivers but can't do this when they are all tied up with larger polygons in one feature. You can edit and delete the vertices you don't want but this will take forever.

How can I split a feature if vertices are not contributing to the same shape within a feature?

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You can use the Multipart to singleparts tool:

Splits multipart features in the input layer into singlepart features.

The attributes of the output layer are the same as the original ones but divided into single features.

Left the multipart source layer and right the single part output result

Left the multipart source layer and right the single part output result

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