In ArcGIS 9.3.1 (and prior) whenever the user wants to add data to Arcmap from a specific folder (and not from the general drives, C:\ for example), He has to press "connect to folder" and map the specific folder. Other than being a nuisance, it doesn't allow the user to be flexible - if he suddenly needs data from a different folder he can't simply navigate to it, he has to map it first.

Does anybody know if it the same or was it fixed in ArcGIS 10?

  • 3
    I think because ArcCatalog resembles a file explorer people have the expectation that it is a file explorer. It isn't. You are connecting to workspace folders, and not every file system folder is a workspace folder (or at least it shouldn't be). I figure that Esri had to draw the line somewhere and we are bumping into the ArcCatalog/File Explorer boundary. I think I would rather have a right-click menu-item in windows explorer that would let me 1) open the file in ArcCatalog 2) add it to an already open instance of ArcMap. Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 13:12

4 Answers 4


I find the funcionality in ArcGIS 10 improved with the embedded Catalog window in ArcMap and the Home folder, as mentioned before. When ESRI implemented this "connect to folder" strategy, I found it a nuisance, but later on I realised, that it actually is an advantage. In my organisation we have a lot of drives, but it's only a few of them that actually store GIS data. Therefore I see the connect to folder as a way to simplify the overview for data folders. You only need to connect the drives or folders, that actually contain GIS data - all other drives and folders will just make life harder, when you search for specific data.


It's the same.

I find myself still running a full-blown ArcCatalog instance where I can quickly paste a path (auto-mounts the folder) and then I drag what I need to my ArcMap instance. While dragging an item, keep the mouse button down and Alt-Tab to flip to the ArcMap window (instead of alt-tab task switching, you can hover over the ArcMap in the task bar).

  • Bummer. I hoped it would change (maybe I should write it as a wish in the Ideas website). Thanks for the trick - I'll try it later today, but it's only a partial answer because it makes me have to open ArcCatalog every single time...
    – jonatr
    Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 11:27
  • Just checked the ArcCatalog window in ArcMap, you can paste a path into the ArcCatalog window in Arcmap, so you don't need a full ArcCatalog running (I guess I was doing that out of habit). It's still a workaround, I know. Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 12:47
  • If you copy a lot of paths, you might want to check this out: gis.stackexchange.com/questions/2712/… Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 12:49

That part is still the same.

I like it, you have your common paths all saved, and I normally have some root paths saved as well (like c:/)

At 10, life is a bit easier with the home folder.

The folder location where your map document is stored. The Home folder is used by default in ArcMap to save results, store new datasets, and access file-based information. It is the location that is initially used to add new layers to ArcMap and to store new datasets that are created during editing and geoprocessing.

  • Bummer. I really despise it, as the ability to move between folders is a important one. The abiliy to save common paths is nice, but it doesn't replace the need to move between neighboring folders, you can have both (As AutoCad does).
    – jonatr
    Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 11:24

One of my favorite tools in Arc Catalog is Explore From Here (find on old arcscripts), provides windows explorer access by right clicking on folder in Arc Catalog tree. Also in Windows 7 you can CTL+Right Click to copy path.

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