I have a classified raster which has the desired symbology configured in ArcMap 10.2, and I want to apply this symbology to other similar rasters.

So I use the Save option on the Symbology tab, intending to save a *.lyr file - but the only option is to create a Raster Function Template XML file.

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When I attempt to import this symbology back onto the same layer, the only option is to import a *.lyr file:

enter image description here

This is preventing me from applying this saved symbology onto multiple layers.

How can the symbology Save and Import functions show different options for the same layer? This sounds like a bug, but I'm hoping for some workarounds/suggestions.

  • A cumbersome workaround is to copy/paste the layer in the ArcMap TOC, then change its source to the new raster Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 0:44
  • I have had success in 9.3.1 saving the layer as a layer file then importing the symbology from the layer file. To save as a layer file was from the Table of Contents not from the layer properties. Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 0:46
  • my symbology tab does not have Save option. Only Import option. It is 10.2 am I blind or is there a variation between liscences?
    – user48790
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 20:28
  • @nugget the Save option should be found at the top right of the Symbology dialog, beside the Import button. Try using Alt-X (for eXport) to see if you can force the dialog manually. It shouldn't depend on the license level but may depend on the raster type. Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 21:52
  • This is what I would like to do programmatically Has anybody done this with python.
    – user59773
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 20:39

3 Answers 3


Previously I have saved as a layer file and then imported the symbology from the layer.

To save as a layer file right click on the layer in the table of contents and select 'save as layer file'.

To import the symbology click on the open folder in the raster properties dialog. Classified raster layer

then browse to the layer file saved to disc Browse for layer file

Note: if the layer symbology is broken (the layer cannot be found) this may not work so well, the colours/symbols are imported but the ranges are not, reclassifying the raster will usually fix this; it is best not to let the layer get invalid if you want to use it again.


You can also apply a raster function template by first opening up the Image Analysis Window (go to Windows >> Image Analysis). Then choose the raster you want to apply the rtf to. Click the [fx] (Apply function template) button in the Processing section and choose your rtf.xml file.

More information here: http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/latest/manage-data/raster-and-images/applying-a-function-template.htm

Image analysis window >> Apply FX button


The answers proposed are really time consuming. If you want to transform the symbology of several rasters, I strongly encourage you to try the following toolbox. It works like a charm!


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