I have an excel sheet that is joined to a shapefile in ArcMap. I need to modify many elements of the table, but every time I need to close ArcMap in order to be able to do it.

Is there any way to modify the Excel sheet realtime?? I mean without closing ArcMap?


  • 7
    In my experience - no. Arcmap locks source files so they can't be changed externally, I suppose this would cause problems. My workaround usually involves editing anyway and saving as a copy. Then I recalculate the join with that new excel file. For some workflows that works, for others it is not helping at all.
    – Martin
    Dec 9, 2013 at 13:24
  • 1
    You could use a Personal GDB instead allowing you to directly edit in Ms Access or ArcGIS then link to the table from Excel. That way to say update a graph you just need to click update source in Excel. Excel is a risky format to store your data anyway because its way to easy to miss-sort the columns. esri.com/software/arcgis/geodatabase/single-user-geodatabase
    – AnserGIS
    Dec 16, 2013 at 8:28

1 Answer 1


As @Martin has commented, ArcMap locks source files so they that they cannot be changed externally so your workflow of joining Excel spreadsheets to shapefiles will make them uneditable while ArcMap has that table open. You could remove the join and remove the table, perform the edits and then add the table and join back, without quitting ArcMap. However, that would usually be slower to do.

Consequently, I think the workaround suggested by @AnserGIS of using a Personal Geodatabase feature class, instead of a shapefile, thus allowing you to directly edit in MS Access (with some risk) or ArcGIS for Desktop, and then linking your Access table and Excel spreadsheet may be worth you investigating.

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