I have an attachment enabled feature class that has photos attached to points. However while any feature in the layer might have a photo, only 10-15% actually do.

How can I narrow in on just those?

The only methods I've discovered rely on one by one interrogation (identify popup windows or attribute table while editing), which is not at all interesting to me in this context.

2 Answers 2


On the Enabling Attachments help page it says:

When you enable attachments, ArcGIS creates a new table to contain the attachment files and a new relationship class to relate the features to the attached files.

Consequently, you are able to use that relationship class to determine which features are present, and they will be only those with attachments.

To select your features with attachments use the instructions on the Exploring the related objects of an object in a table help page. My instructions here are paraphrased from those.

  1. Right-click on the feature class and use Joins & Relates | Relate to relate using the OBJECTID to the *_ATTACH table's ATTACHMENTID
  2. Use the List By Source view of the Table of Contents to open the *_ATTACH table that represents the attachments.
  3. Select All the rows (attachments).
  4. Click Options > Related Tables, then click the path label for the relationship. A new table dialog box opens for the attribute table of the feature class with attachments enabled, and all features with an attachment should be found selected there.

I just tested this at ArcGIS 10.2 for Desktop and it worked! I used a Standard license but you are not trying to modify a relationship class, just view using one, so a Basic license should be fine to use.

  • Huh; doesn't work for me. Under "Related Tables" it says "None". Though if I use ArcCatalog and explore the file-gdb it has Points_of_interest (point feature class), Points_of_interest_ATTACH (table), Points_of_interest_ATTACHREL (relationship class) listed. Using Identify on a point with known with attachments does show them. Explicitly adding the *_ATTACH to the table of contents doesn't change anything. If I manually create an additional relationship between FC and *_ATTACH then the recipe works. So I can get what I want eventually, but the process is broken. Jan 29, 2014 at 22:48
  • @mattwilkie You were right, in my testing I had done an extra step during experimentation and had overlooked that it was critical to this workflow. I have added it as step 1 now.
    – PolyGeo
    Jan 29, 2014 at 23:07
  • Accepted as correct because it does answer the question asked, though why a person should have to define a soft related table link when a hard relationship class link already exists is beyond me. Still some more work to be done before feature level attachments are a first class citizen I guess. :-/ Jan 30, 2014 at 18:13
  • In ArcMap 10.5 the default field name for the relationship is not the ATTACHMENTID, but however it is the REL_OBJECTID.
    – cbunn
    May 15, 2017 at 17:50

I assume the feature class has an attribute containing the path to the photo it is linked to... If that is the case, an easy way would be to use the "Select by Attribute" method or apply a filter method, where:

show everything where attribute is not NULL
  • 1
    Your assumption is incorrect because "the feature class [does not have] an attribute containing the path to the photo it is linked to". This is because there is potentially a many-to-many relationship between features and attachments (photos). Where the photos are stored is known directly to the attachment table and to the feature class only via the relationship class.
    – PolyGeo
    Jan 30, 2014 at 3:10
  • I see... can't you use that relationship class with the feature class and then apply the filter? Jan 31, 2014 at 3:06
  • If you can, it is not a technique that I know, so feel free to try and, if successful, then edit your Answer to revise it with the steps involved.
    – PolyGeo
    Jan 31, 2014 at 3:26

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