I have 10 layers or so loaded in a data frame in ArcMap 10.2. Some are complex such as NHD hydrology and Tiger roads.

Why does ArcMap redraw all layers when I change the symbology of just one? Is there a way to stop ArcMap from doing this behavior?

1 Answer 1


You can use basemap layers to solve this. Once you are happy with the symbology of your layers you can right click the data frame and select New Basemap Layer (see below) which is similar to a group layer.

You can then drop the layers into this group, it will redraw them once and then 'store' this view rather than redrawing every time you make a change. If you need to make any changes to layer you can pull it out of the basemap group edit it and drop it back in.

This will make it much quicker to navigate round your map.

Basemap Layer

Hope that helps.

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    Great! Why do some layers I add to my Basemap Layer show warnings (small triangle icon with ! sign)? Is this a projection issue?
    – jotamon
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 15:27
  • Yes, as far as I know it is just a projection thing. (have you checked the project and layers have the same projection?). But to be honest, I normally ignore the warning triangle as it still displays the data without any issues.
    – MAJ742
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 15:29
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    My understanding is that the basemap takes a 'snapshot' of the data effectively storing it in memory rather than redrawing and to do that the layer has to be fixed which is why you have to take it out of the basemap layer to change it.
    – MAJ742
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 15:57
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    If you right click the basemap layer in the table of contents, then select "Analyze Basemap Layer..." a panel will appear explaining how to fix the warnings/errors. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 17:06
  • 1
    From: resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.1/index.html#//… "Because basemap layers are cached, there are limitations on what you can do with them. For example, you cannot edit the layers in a basemap or change the layer symbology. If you need to make edits or layer updates, drag the layer out of your basemap, make the changes, and drag the updated layer back into the basemap layer."
    – user23715
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 19:38

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