I am preparing increasingly more maps and layers for export to KML/KMZ as it seems to be the most convenient way to quickly analyze spatial data by my superiors. In order to export labels I seem to have to convert them to annotations. Even this approach is not without limitations; the annotations seem to be rasterized and almost always illegible unless I make them very large and adjust the pixels and DPI values of the output image.

Is there a way to export labels directly, or as vector? If not is there another simple way to export labels to KML/KMZ?

COMMENT: It seems that the existing workflow seems to be the best option. I exported my annotations to polygons and this workaround seems to work pretty well.

Arc2Earth produces erroneous KMZ files that are riddled with errors.

The recommended ArcGIS script is only available for legacy ArcGIS 9.x versions.

Dynamic Labels DO NOT export at all into KMZ using the default tool.

4 Answers 4


Arc2Earth has good label control


There is a 'free'community version


But the professional version is likely to be required due to the limitation of exporting features (100/250) See the Feature Grid http://www.arc2earth.com/products/featuregrid/

(I am not associated in anyway with Arc2Earth but know Brain Flood in the blogging circles)

  • A feature limit is a serious limitation dont you think? Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 12:39
  • originally there was no free version. Works both ways, the developer has to get the return on the amount invested (time). If there is good quality people pay for it.
    – Mapperz
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 18:03
  • Thanks Mapperz. I don't mind paying for a good product. I will download and test the free version. Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 12:54
  • Looked promising at first, but...Dynamic labeling is not supported. (Only as kind of a mouse over in Google Earth it seems) I was only able to successfully export one simple layer that contained my dynamic labels. Exporting several layers and a separate annotation layer raises a "mismatched tag" error in Google Earth and does not work at all. (There are very simple vector layers with less then 200 features in total) Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 14:07
  • 2
    hi jakub - feel free to ping me at bFlood at arc2earth.com to get the errors you are seeing sorted out. labeling in google earth is kind of hit or miss, especially with polygons but we have many customers who have rather complex exports. cheers
    – bFlood
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 16:18

KML does not have support for fixed labelling. The view is constantly changing making the concept of complex annotations redundant. And as you have noted raster export is extremely lacking in quality.

  • From within ArcGIS I would recommend using Export to KML, which gives you plenty of labelling options. If you have labels locked into annotations simply convert back to a point file and export from that. This tool tends to be difficult to install on ArcGIS 10 or Windows 7.
  • OGR supports conversion to KML - ogr2ogr -f "KML" a.kml point.shp -dsco NameField=NAME. This assumes data is in WGS84, and centroids if using polygons.

Instead of trying to create a perfect export from ArcGIS it is better to concentrate on making data that looks good and works well in Google Earth. Just get the data out of ArcGIS as quickly as possible and use the options in Google Earth for styling.


In ArcGIS 9.3.1 you can label (no annotation conversion needed) I think only the top layer in the TOC (when using the Map To KML tool), and then insert that layer into the Conversion Tools>To KML> Layer To KML OR Map To KML tool. This will label your annotations as vector (maybe this tool exists also in 10?). You can also use the Export to KML tool located here to label as vector too. In addition, this tool allows you to attach feature attribute info.

Both of these tools have limitations, however when used together (to mash a final kmz file) you can create a dynamic kmz file for labeling, rendering, and feature attributes.

  • Thanks. I no longer use 9.3.1 and the dynamic labels do not in version 10 whether they are the top layer or not. (I tried with Maplex and without) As for the script, I contacted the author about ArcGIS 10 compatibility and if there is "10" version I will test it. Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 13:20

Make a field called "NAME" before you run the default ArcGIS tool? This question is quite old so maybe this has changed or maybe you are looking for something more, but configuring scalable dynamic labeling is a nightmare.

  • What will that do? Could you please elaborate on how creatinga field called "NAME" will help?
    – Fezter
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 22:19

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