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How is the clip tool different from the intersect tool in terms of how it works or the result? I don't have a specific situation in mind. I was learning about each of these tools and was curious about how they differ since the results seem to be very similar at first glance. Thanks!

  • Welcome to GIS-SE! I've assumed that you are using ArcGIS for Desktop and so have added a tag for that. – PolyGeo May 13 '13 at 23:11
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The main difference will be in the attributes of the results. When using Clip only the input feature’s attributes will be in the output (none from the clip feature), where if you used Intersect the attributes form all features used will be in the output.

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There has been a recent trend towards questions asking for an explanation of the differences between tools. If you're using ESRI products the ArcGIS Online Help should be your first stop.

You can find full explanations of each tool:

Intersect

Clip

In this case you will find that the Intersect tool will create output features which possess the attributes of all input features. Note that there can be multiple input features. The Clip tool only allows for one input feature and one clip feature and will therefore only output features containing the input feature attributes, not the clip features.

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You cannot compare the two procedures.

The Intersection is a real Geoprocessing thing, stems from Venn-diagram (like Union, Difference). Has an impact on geometry and attributes (both layer attributes inherited) too.

The Clip is a complex method (collecting every touched (in Geomedia) or intersecting (in QGIS, Spatial Query) features in clip polygons, and save them) which does not effect the geometries and the attributes neither.

Touch returns features that touch the defined features in any way—meeting, overlapping, containing, or being contained by. - Working with GeoMedia Professional

The problem is that the GIS language is not standardized.

Look at these images created in QGIS 2.18.9:.

Clipped (line and polygon layers):

Clipped

Intersected (line and polygon layers):

Intersected

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