I want to find out if the manually selected features in ArcMap can be the input to a ModelBuilder tool. If not, is it possible to copy or export selected features in ArcMap using ModelBuilder? Once in ModelBuilder, the data will be manipulated and exported to a dwg file but I first need to figure out how to get the selected features in ArcMap as the input to ModelBuilder.

2 Answers 2


Yes, as long as the input is a Feature Layer or Table View, selections will be honored by most geoprocessing tools including those within models.

  • Thanks for the response. So lets say I want to export the selected features in ArcMap to a feature class using ModelBuilder. I have the Feature Class to Feature Class tool in ModelBuilder. I need to add the make feature layer tool as well? What is the input for it?
    – Steve
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 20:40
  • 1
    You don't need to use Make Feature Layer (that would be more for being able to refer back to the same set of selected features over and over while you manipulate the selection with other tools), just set the input to the Feature Class to Feature Class tool to a feature layer in your MXD. You can also create a variable of type Feature Layer, expose it as a model parameter and input that to the FC2FC tool. Copy Features would also work, I believe.
    – blah238
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 21:01

You can use a feature layer as an input to a model builder tool, just like you can do this with other ArcGIS tools. Layers memorize the selections and the definition queries.

Once you have built your model, right click on your input and set it as a model parameter. Save your model then open it (not Edit, Open). You will have a combobox where you can enter your layer. It will run for the selected feature.

  • Thank you, I've got it to work based on yours and blah238's suggestions.
    – Steve
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 18:01

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