I am working with some data that shows land management. There are many places where corners "touch". I would like to dissolve my dataset so that features are grouped (dissolved) with those that they share a touching corner. Each section (square) is a unique feature (row). In the image below I've circled the features that I would like to group in this dissolve. I am using ArcGIS and have an editor and SA license.

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    When you say they "touch", I'm guessing you mean they don't actually touch, that you've already tried dissolving them and it didn't work the way you wanted? If you run the Dissolve tool on a layer and don't supply a Dissolve Field, any features that intersect should be merged with each other. – Dan C Feb 6 '13 at 16:47
  • Yes, I dissolved without selecting a dissolve field and everything was merged together regardless of topology etc. – jotamon Feb 6 '13 at 17:36
  • OK, you're halfway there then. All you have to do now is start editing that layer, select all the features, and click the Explode button on the Advanced Editing toolbar. You'll end up with one feature for each group of original features that intersected each other. – Dan C Feb 6 '13 at 18:54
  • thank you. I will mark your answer as correct if you submit it as a new answer. – jotamon Feb 6 '13 at 18:59

As long as the features you've circled do actually touch (intersect) each other, you can do this like so:

  • Dissolve your layer without using a Dissolve Field. That will dissolve the layer based solely on its geometry, so any features that touch each other will be merged to one geometry and one feature. It will also make the entire layer one multi-part feature, but that won't matter after the next step.

  • Start editing the output layer of your Dissolve, select all the features in it, then Explode them (on the Advanced Editing toolbar). That will separate the one giant multi-part feature into one feature for each group of features which intersected each other in your original layer. This can also be done using the Multipart To Singlepart geoprocessing tool.

  • I'm trying the same approach, but when I explode, or when I use multipart to singlepart, all features become single polygons again. – fandreacci Jan 15 '18 at 12:27

You want to merge the individual polygons into a single, multipart, feature. You do this by opening an edit session, selecting each group according to how you want them grouped, then click on the "Editor" box/button on the editing toolbar, select Merge... and then follow the instructions. You just have to pick which set of attribute data you want to use to represent the new group of polygons.

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    There are almost 7,000 features. Not sure if this is a good approach – jotamon Feb 6 '13 at 17:37

You could use the Dissolve tool and simply uncheck the "Create multipart features" box. This should have the same result as Dan C's answer, but only requires one step.

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