How do I install ArcView 3 on 64bit Windows?

There are numerous threads on the Esri forums for how to accomplish this, but the solutions are scattered, inconsistent and disjointed.

This is a request to post integrated and "cleaned-up" solutions, don't just copy and paste. Please indicate if the method is specific to x64 XP, Vista, or 7 (and post seperately, e.g. win7 method in one answer, vista in another).

  • Install a VM and a 32-bit O/S. Jan 19, 2011 at 18:06
  • I've been using AV 3.2 as copied version from an already existing installation in both Win 7 32 and 64 as well as on Win 8.1 on av PC as well as on a tablet. One has to observe the place for C:\Program Files\Common Files\ESRI (eg dlls needed etc), but the catalog for the program can be placed anywhere, eg on another partition or even on an usb stick or as on my tablet, on a sd card. Copying or installing the proper fonts might be nifty.
    – user53997
    Jun 18, 2015 at 21:33
  • should be comment to gis.stackexchange.com/a/5340/108 Jan 8, 2016 at 18:38

5 Answers 5


Install Arcview on XP, using the defaults. Copy these folders to the same location on Win7.

C:\Program Files\Common Files\ESRI

For 64bit Windows use target C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\ESRI instead.

  • Which AV 3.x files are installed in C:\Program Files\ ? (As far as I know, none of them are.)
    – whuber
    Jan 22, 2011 at 21:31
  • As klewis says you will also need to copy from the XP machine the files in C:\Program Files\Common Files\ESRI and paste into your Windows 7 machine in the following directory: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\ESRI otherwise Arcview 3.3 will fall down on a missing dll that is in the folders contained within.
    – user13126
    Nov 27, 2012 at 15:59
  • Interesting! I have never had to do this, so I checked it out. Indeed, my Win 7/64 installation does have this directory--but it contains only one DLL from 2008, obviously post-ArcView. As a test, I renamed this directory and ran ArcView 3.3 with no problem at all, adding and displaying a shapefile. This suggests there's no reason for anyone to carry out your instructions--although it would do no harm.
    – whuber
    Nov 27, 2012 at 17:15
  • @whuber I just tried to copy AV 3.3 from WinXP to a Win7 x64 PC using only the C:\ESRI folder. It complained about a missing DLL so I needed the ...\Common Files\ESRI folder before Win7 would launch AV3.
    – SaultDon
    Nov 27, 2012 at 21:59
  • 1
    @SaultDon Thanks. I had checked into mtch.dll, because it was referenced in related messages, but find a copy installed in ESRI/AV_GIS30/ArcView/Bin32. The are also copies of sg81.dll and pe81.dll there. These dll's (and the other files--not everything you list is a dll) sound like they may have been installed with extensions rather than base ArcView. It appears that not all AV installations have the same directory structures and thus, at least for some people, copying the ESRI common files may be a good idea.
    – whuber
    Nov 27, 2012 at 22:57

For Win7/64: Copy all the files from a working installation. Put them into identically named drives and folders on the destination machine. Run it! This really does work: I have been using AV 3.3 in this mode for the last eight months. This is the fourth or fifth migration of this sort since the last official install I did about a decade ago. Also working is Spatial Analyst 1.1, which I have not installed from CD in about 14 years.

I also tried the Windows VM solution (which emulates Win XP/32). It's awful: there's some kind of incompatibility that causes AV to hang after a fraction of a second and wait for user interaction. If you keep waving your mouse over the window, it will keep chugging away at a redraw or table processing, but it's still incredibly slow. After hunting the Web for a few weeks to locate a solution, to no avail, I gave up on this kluge.

If you have problems with reports of missing DLL files after the migration, please see this answer by klewis for a potentially simple fix. You might also need to migrate special files installed by your ArcView extensions if they placed them in idiosyncratic locations.

  • What platform did you use for the VM approach? (e.g. MS's xp-mode vmware, virtualbox, etc.) Jan 19, 2011 at 20:41
  • re: copy all files - was everything needed under C:\ESRI\\* or did you have to grab some files from elsewhere (I think I remember reading something about fonts and dll's). Jan 19, 2011 at 20:43
  • @Matt (1) I used the official Windows virtual machine. (2) Yes, some fonts were missing. After a while you notice those--they are the ESRI* fonts--and just grab whichever ones you like from the system. Otherwise, everything's in C:\ESRI\AV_GIS30\ARCVIEW.
    – whuber
    Jan 19, 2011 at 22:23
  • Oh, I wouldn't try to run it using Virtual PC on Windows 7; ArcView 3.3 was released even prior to the first XP service pack. Instead, I'd try installing VirtualBox or VMWare Server and then installing XP. I believe you'd have a lot more luck with that. Jan 19, 2011 at 23:30
  • @Michael AV 3.3 works just fine on Win XP (that was the platform I migrated from, in fact). The version I tried to run had been patched for Win XP, too. The problem lies with Virtual PC. The VMWare suggestion sounds good. I looked at VMWare last summer but their web site simply wouldn't let me download the software: it kept me going in an endless loop of forms to fill out. Too much trouble for me; someone else can share their experiences with VMWare + AV 3.x if they like.
    – whuber
    Jan 20, 2011 at 0:42

After installing via the other answers, there are couple of things to make things a little friendlier (on Win7):

Register the .apr filename extension so you can just 2x-click on SomeProject.apr and thereby bypass the painful AV3 file chooser. Run these command from an administrative command prompt (edit to suit, see ss64 for usage):

assoc .apr=ArcView3.Project
ftype ArcView3.Project=C:\ESRI\ARCVIEW\BIN32\arcview.exe "%1"

Install Windows Help Program (WinHlp32.exe) from Windows Update KB917607, assuming you want to read the AV3 help docs that is.


fyi, Thought I'd post my 'final conclusion' after a few days of searching for the right answer and coming across numerous, cumbersome processes to get AV3x on to 64 bit Windows 7. I stumbled upon a pretty obscure but seemingly straight forward answer, somewhere... You can simply download a 32 bit 'installshield engine' - setup32.exe - and use that to install the AV3x files from original installation media - instead of the 16 bit 'setup.exe' that normally comes with ArcView 3x... Put setup32.exe in the same folder as the ArcView 3x installation stuff, double click, and it installs normally. You might have to run that program in Windows XP compatability mode...

I had used a version of AV3x that I copied from an XP installation, but ran into a few problems here and there. For example, the projection utility wouldn't work. Trying to fix that I got fed-up with all the 'change the registry' stuff, copy this, copy that - so I tried this setup32.exe way. Seems to work so far, projection utility works, though there may be some issues with that that I haven't figured out yet. Everything else I've tried works, though granted, I haven't done a whole lot yet...

edit: Here's a link to the page I found that talks about using Installshield 32 bit vs. 16 bit, which includes a link to "setup32.exe", scroll down to "Installshield3 shortcut" at that page: http://www.reactos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=10988

  • I really wanted this to be THE answer, but it just isn't for our environment. On my x64 Win7 machine the v3 IsEngine setup32.exe doesn't do anything. The process shows up in task manager (Process Explorer) but there are no visible windows and 0% CPU. I tried with both ArcView 3.3 and Spatial Analyst. ... +1 because it worked for you and might for others. Wish I could add another +1 for the excellent linked React OS forum thread. Jan 8, 2016 at 18:30

enter image description hereInstall ESRI_Arcview.zip in C: Drive (this is just a zip of the C:\Esri folder from a previous install)

Install Common_files_ESRI in C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files (again a copy of the previous files)

Install Fonts.zip in Fonts (esri_1.ttf to esri_9.ttf)

Create a HOME environment variable to point to a home folder

Install avenv.ave in the HOME folder (optional startup file that can set local environment etc. In my case it adds a third party extension set of tools)

Make up a shortcut to C:/ESRI/AV_30/bin/arcview.exe

Set opening *.apr files to use arcview.exe

This works for me in Windows 10 without any virtual machines or other hacks.

This assumes a valid licence key.

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