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I want to use ArcGIS Desktop to merge adjacent polygons with each other.

There is no common field between the polygons and hence the Dissolve tool is not the ideal solution. The polygons that I want to merge together are either adjacent or are within a certain distance of each other.

I want to avoid using ArcObjects. However, Python scripts are welcome.


The Dissolve tool merges adjacent polygons when the attribute on which to dissolve is left out (and create multipart is disabled). However, it does not have settings for spatial tolerance. Furthermore, dissolve does not work on polygons that have just a vertex in common.


I have tried the approach with the integrate tool as mentioned in one of the answers. The problem is that the shape of the final feature that is getting created by integrating several feature is not like the shape that would have been formed if the boundaries between the features were dissolved.

  • I would investigate this approach: (1) Buffer polygons. Buffer of touching or near polygons will overlap. (2) Use Union or Intersect tool. Overlapping parts of buffers will have attributes of all origin polygons. This means: The result table shows the relationship of your polygons. (3) Adjust table from step 2 with Excel and join it back to your polygons. (4) Dissolve your polygons by attributes. – Jens Jul 16 '13 at 12:21
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I would go for the Integrate tool which finds features that are within the given x,y tolerance. Afterwards use the Dissolve tool which should work fine for the adjacent polygons.

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Aggregate polygons tool is probably what you want? It can join polygons within the same layer based upon a defined distance tolerance. You can also set minimum size of polygons and holes to retain.

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One solution I managed to get to work was to use the Dissolve tool and then use Multipart to Singlepart. This first dissolved all polygons into a single polygon but did dissolve the shapefiles that were adjacent. Then using Multipart to Singlepart this created a shapefile where each merged polygon was given by a single feature in the attribute table.

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