When I create shapefiles in ArcMap, be it by selecting certain features from existing data or creating new polygons/points/lines,
I look in My Computer and see a dbf prj sbn and sbx file.
These shapefiles all successfully open in ArcMap, but I'm trying to upload these shapefiles to Mangomaps.com and the lack of an shp file is crucial.
When I open up the shapefiles in ArcMap an shp mysteriously appears in the form of "(Whatever the name of my shapefile is).shp.URA-0422.6328.6588.sr.lock" URA is the name of the place where I work and just fyi before someone harps on me for sharing important information I changed some of those numbers in case they have significance.
However this locked shp can't be uploaded and immediately disappears once ArcMap closes.
What's going on? Do I have some sort of setting preventing ArcMap from creating an shp/xml document?

  • Schema locks explains file locks. It's not actually creating a .shp file. They are designed (though rarely behave nicely) to disappear after the application is closed.
    – Paul
    Jun 24, 2013 at 20:16
  • 1
    Close your ArcMap
    – user3120
    Jun 24, 2013 at 20:23
  • There are only 3 files "required" for shape to be valid. 1. Shp 2. Dbf 3. Shx. The prj is preferable for geo locating but not to make it valid. All other files are either later additions for indexing or metadata placeholder
    – Brad Nesom
    Jun 25, 2013 at 1:09

1 Answer 1


Shapefiles are not XML files, they are binary files. If you're seeing a XML file with the ending .shp, it may not be the .shp file. ArcGIS can automatically create metadata files (files that contain information about the shapefile, such as the extent it covers, who made it, and when) for shapefiles, and saves that information as My_ShapeFile.shp.xml

When windows explorer sees that, it just shows the XML file as MyShapefile.shp, with the type of XML, which can be confusing. See:


In the above example from windows explorer, you can see both the My_Shapefile.shp.xml and My_Shapefile.shp listed as "My_Shapefile.shp" but in the "Type" field, one is an XML file (the metadata) and the other is the real shapefile that needs to be uploaded (shown as a "SHP File").

The lock file is just a file ArcMap creates to keep other people from trying to change the shapefile while you are opening it. It usually has a name based on the name of the computer you are using. You should be able to upload the file whether or not there is a lock file present.

  • Just don't upload the lock file. If you don't see the shp file you may have another software that has it as a hidden filetype.
    – Brad Nesom
    Jun 25, 2013 at 1:01
  • I sort of understand what you're saying but my problem looks like this for a shapefile called "GO_KIZ"-this is what shows up in My Computer.... GO_KIZ.dbf DBF File GO_KIZ.prj PRJ File GO_KIZ.sbn SBN File GO_KIZ.sbx SBX File GO_KIZ SHX File There is no SHP or XML Document being created but my created shapefiles still work. I need to figure out why these aren't being created and fix it. Because I need the SHP file for using a web based mapping system. Do you have any inkling about how I go about this?
    – Evan
    Jun 25, 2013 at 13:09
  • Can you provide a screenshot? The shapefiles shouldn't function without a .shp
    – DPierce
    Jun 25, 2013 at 14:07

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