I'm new to the Enterprise level of the GIS world and working at this level I find that there are many instances where another user has taken an ArcEditor or ArcInfo license when it's needed for a more important situation that has arisen.

My question has two parts.

  1. Is there a way to remove a user from a license programmatically?
  2. Is there a way to transfer a user from one license-type to another? (i.e., ArcEdit to ArcView)

Programmatically would include Python, VBA, VB, or other.

I am familiar with "Where Have All The Licenses Gone" but it's very inconvenient as sometimes we have users that leave their computers on and then leave for the day. Rather than unplugging their systems and potentially losing their work it would be a lot more efficient to just strip a specific license from them or transfer their current license to another license.

2 Answers 2


The raw force method is to restart the FlexLM server when some floating licences are locked by a user. ArcMap only check the licence every ~15 min or when a specific tool is used that requires a particular licence. So this could be a solution.

For a much more cleaner solution, we bought OpenLM, a software to manage our licences (statistics of use, single licence removal...). It ended up cheaper than making the developement by ourself. But it also mean that it is possible to do it programmatically.

For your second question, it is not possible to change the type of licence when ArcGIS is running, and it has to be done on the client side. So it is only possible if you have the tools to take remote control of the desktop (though this operation can remain unnoticed by the user).

Note that this answer could be a little bit outdated because the last time I had to manage licences was 2 years ago.


You can change what license ArcDesktop uses by changing the below registry key, but as radouxju noted, this will only work if ArcGIS is not running. You can change the key while ArcGIS is running, but it will not take effect until the next time ArcGIS is started.

You will also need administrator rights to the machine, but there are a few methods of doing this in a programmatic way. For example, you could use PSExec in a script.

I have ArcGIS 10.2, so the keys are appropriate for that. Other versions should be very similar.

64bit Windows: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\ESRI\License10.2

Change the SOFTWARE_CLASS key to one of the following:
ArcView/Basic: Viewer
ArcEditor/Standard: Editor
ArcInfo/Advanced: Professional

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