I have come across several scripts and tools to import and export KML into ArcGIS Desktop.

Is there a one tool that:

  • Imports/Exports KML into ArcGIS Desktop at v10
  • Does not cost money
  • Ideally maintains attributes between the packages
  • Ideally does not require additional software to be installed

I would also like to be recommended tools that people have had 1st hand experience with. ArcScripts, Google, and the blogs I read all talk about a number of methods, but would like to identify a recommended one.


2 Answers 2


A "Clear Winner" is too subjective of a question. Since you indicated cost as a criteria, here are some free (or built-in) options:

KMLToLayer tool is available in ArcGIS 10 which puts the data straight into a file geodatabase:

KMLToLayer_conversion (in_kml_file, output_folder, {output_data})

Your question is closely aligned with How to convert between KML and Esri's shapefile (SHP) format? which has options that get you to shapefile: such as ogr2ogr -f 'ESRI Shapefile' output.shp input.kml and ET GeoWizards.

There are others (go to the question and +1 the good answers).

  • Thanks Jay Have revised Q. Will check your links and reports back
    – jakc
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 10:27

Arc2Earth has a good KML importer and the free version allows you to import up to 100 placemarks at a time. The Pro version has unlimited placemark imports, GroundOverlay to image/world file and KML Description Schema parser so you can import attribute values that may be hidden or buried in complex description text. Also, if your Placemarks have unique IDs, the importer will update existing features instead of creating new ones (making it a decent tool for round-tripping data between ArcMap and GE)


cheers brian

  • While I do use the ArcPy importer, I have to agree with Brian here. If you really want to work with KML/KMZ and ArcGIS, invest in tools that really get it done.
    – James Fee
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 16:10

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