We have several ArcMap georeferenced images (raster datasets) that we are attempting to open in QGIS without any luck. These are not inside of a geodatabase and are not Arcinfo Binary Grid format or Arcinfo Binary Coverages. QGIS supports GDAL rasters and the ArcMap created .aux.xml file contains the georeference points, but QGIS apparently does not recognize this file as it places my Texas image in a very small area of the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Africa (with a google maps basemap added). (THe only other files in the raster dataset are .tfwx and .ovr)

Is there something special I need to do within QGIS to apply the coordinates in the aux.xml created by ArcMap, or something else I'm missing?

Here are the contents of one such aux.xml file:

<?xml version="1.0"?>



-<Metadata domain="Esri">

<MDI key="PyramidResamplingType">NEAREST</MDI>


-<Metadata domain="xml:ESRI" format="xml">

-<GeodataXform xmlns:typens="http://www.esri.com/schemas/ArcGIS/10.1" xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:type="typens:PolynomialXform">


-<SpatialReference xsi:type="typens:ProjectedCoordinateSystem">
















-<SourceGCPs xsi:type="typens:ArrayOfDouble">










-<TargetGCPs xsi:type="typens:ArrayOfDouble">













  • 1
    The aux.xml file is automatically created if you load a raster layer into QGIS. It does not contain any cell information. You need the original layer (which comes in format .tif for instance)
    – Curlew
    Feb 24, 2014 at 19:09

3 Answers 3


Your best bet is to rectify the georeferenced raster and that way there will be no problem when moving between different software. Save your raster as a GeoTiff or GeoJPG and (barring raster statistics) you can dispense with both the aux and the world file.

Any file with a 'W' at the end (e.g. TFW JPW etc) is a world file. A world file that ends in an 'X' denotes an approximate world file, that is one where the transformation cannot be adequately defined within the limits of a conventional world file. Such 'approximate' world files are specific to ArcGIS and Arc uses them in conjunction with the aux.xml file, so by itself, that aux.xml will not help you (as you've discovered).

The irony is that because both ArcGIS and QGIS use GDAL to read and write rasters, they both produce aux.xml file that in theory should be compatible but in practice, because QGIS doesn't use approximate world files, relying on the aux.xml becomes a liability and not a help.

The contents of a 'proper' world file for a rectified raster will look very different to the contents of an equivalent approximate world file (the one with the X). I don't personally recommend hacking it by just chopping off the X.

One more irony (IMHO) is that georeferenced rasters that don't have world files (GeoTiff, GeoJPG etc) have all the projection and CRS information in their headers (or should do) and therefore don't need the aux file except to store raster statistics (hence my opening statement). In fact, that aux file can be a menace because as soon as you open a raster an aux is made even if you only open an image for a quick look. Arc then incorrectly thinks it knows the CRS and projection for your raster before you even georeference it. I've had situations where the aux has got out of sync with the georeferencing process (at which point your only recourse is to kill the aux).

Solution - I always rectify!

  • Thanks for the information. I was going to try rectifying, but it was not available in the georeferencing menus. Once I clicked the control point button, I was able to then rectify, but ArcMap crashed whenever attempting a tiff save as, so I went with PNG. THis seems to work fine, although I did need the supporting files it did open properly georeferenced, so I'm good to go. Any reason I shouldn't use PNG? Seems like a good, lossless compression. Thanks again!
    – Justincase
    Feb 25, 2014 at 21:34
  • It looks like GDAL has recently added support for reading the aux.xml GCP's. So you should be able to read the GCP information in newer versions of QGIS and/or GDAL. See the following thread: lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/gdal-dev/2020-January/051526.html I tried this in the version of QGIS (3.20) on my computer and it reads the GCP's with no problems. QGIS should read the GCP's in the aux.xml file for the original post also.
    – Burrow
    Jun 22, 2022 at 19:15

If you don't need a high accuracy, you could remove the x from the tfwx file and you will have an affine approximation of your transform.


I am new-bee, my answer is welcome to be corrected.

Seems in ArcGis, you can open the aux file in 2 ways:

1. if your folder looks like:

enter image description here

enter image description here

in this case, the aux file acts like an entrance of the bundled-files, you can open this via:

step1. open ArcMap ( version > 10 ? seems this is a requirement to show the correct raster pyramids)

step2. Ctrl + N to open a new file, don't use the template

step3. click this icon: add data

enter image description here

enter image description here

and here you opened the aux file.

2. if your folder looks like this:

enter image description here

just open the tif file, the aux.xml will be read automatically and displayed in the left layer.

enter image description here

enter image description here

in this case, the aux acts like a "auxiliary file" and contains the meta-data.

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