To make it easier to find and select the 3 or 4 coordinate systems we use most often in ArcGIS 9.x and 10.0 we would copy them to the top of the Coordinate Systems folder, generally located in C:\Program Files\ArcGIS and thereby skip daily repeat navigation through all the categories to find the ones we want:

Most used projections at top of list

(The Favorite Coordinate Systems feature developed to accomplish the same aim isn't available in all locations (tools), and has to be set individually for every user profile. So, doesn't save as much work.)

ArcGIS 10.1 doesn't have this folder, or at least not in the same location. Where has it moved to, or is there another way to accomplish the same aim?


In ArcGIS 10.1, wherever you are prompted to select a coordinate system (data frame properties for instance), you can right click and save a highlighted coordinate system to your machine. The closest way to achieve what you're looking for is the save all of the projection files you regularly use to a shared folder or network drive, and for each individual user, import the saved prj files as new coordinate systems (using the Import option in the coordinate system window). This will place them in the Favorites folder. As you noted, ArcGIS 10.1 also has a 'Favorites' feature detailed below, which if you are working on the same machine/same user every time would be the easiest approach.

See here for more info.

ArcGIS for Desktop 10.1 supports over 5,000 geographic, projected and vertical coordinate systems. Before ArcGIS 10.1, coordinate systems were included in the installation directory as .prj files in a Coordinate Systems folder. Installing the .prj files required a significant portion of the time taken up by the software installation process.

To improve the installation experience and simplify localization support, the files are no longer included in the installation package. Instead, a virtual directory structure is built directly from the coordinate system data.

Commonly used coordinate systems can be exported to a Favorites folder. The Favorites folder is stored in the user profile location, which depends on the computer operating system used. The Favorites directory can be accessed in ArcMap when setting the coordinate system of an ArcMap data frame on the View > Data Frame Properties menu, Coordinate System tab.

The coordinate systems in the Favorites directory are also available in ArcToolbox when using the Define Projection tool or the Project tool.

  • 5
    In case anyone is curious, a copy of the projection file for each coordinate system you place in your favorites is placed here: C:\Users[USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming\ESRI\Desktop10.1\ArcMap\Coordinate Systems – Kevin Jan 17 '13 at 20:26
  • hmmm. Ok, thanks for that. I understand how a dynamic calculated system improves performance and storage efficiency. Now my question becomes where is the data in "directly from the coordinate system data" located? ;-) (...because I'd still rather set the defaults once per machine than once for every user. At least with the addition of Kevin's info I can write a simple script to make it a little less work.) – matt wilkie Jan 17 '13 at 21:43
  • 1
    One change at 10.1 which may help is that the "Import" button can now see .prj files directly. You used to have to import from a shapefile/feature class that had the coordinate system you wanted to use. So, now you can set up a folder anywhere with the .prj files you want, add a folder connection to it, and use the Import button to access them. You can also use the search/filter capabilities to simplify finding a coordinate system. – mkennedy Jan 17 '13 at 21:47
  • A Python script that extracts and saves all available ArcGIS default projections as separate .prj-Files has been published by ESRI in their support forum. May be this is interesting for some of you who prefer to access projections via file system. – lavarider Jan 26 '14 at 20:00

Using the information from mbenedetti's answer and Kevin's comment here is my current solution, a batch file that each user runs once after installing Arcgis 10.1 (assumes the to-be-favourited projection files on a shared network drive). Doesn't save as much as doing once on install, but still better than a manual import.

@echo off

:: Uncomment the next line For ArcGIS 9.x & 10.0
rem set _dest=%AGSDESKTOPJAVA%\Coordinate Systems

:: Uncomment the next line For ArcGIS 10.1
set _dest=%APPDATA%\ESRI\Desktop10.1\ArcMap\Coordinate Systems

if not exist "%_dest%" goto :NoDestination

call :WriteValues
call :ExitMsg
goto :eof

:: --------------------------------------------------------------------
    echo.   Copying commonly used coordinate systems to "%_dest%\"
    copy z:\common\Prj_Files\*.prj "%_dest%\"
    goto :eof

    echo. & echo.   Error: can't locate "%_dest%"
    echo. & pause
    goto :eof

    echo. & echo.    Exiting in 7 seconds...
    ping -n 7 localhost > nul
    goto :eof

With a small edit, the same script will work on either 9.x or 10 (and only needs to be run once per machine).

  • Great Solution! – bluefoot Jan 17 '13 at 23:02

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