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This document includes suggested settings and tweaks that can be made to ArcGIS after installation to enhance the capabilities of the software.

If you have any suggestions for additions, or comments, please let me know.

Windows Settings

  1. ArcGIS applications can leave around a lot of temp files. A cleanup strategy for the TEMP folder is recommended to keep the machine working efficiently. (Image caches can be a problem -- see the note on the Display Cache below.)
  2. In Windows Explorer, Tools/Folder Options/View
    • Unset Hide Extensions for Known File Types
    • Set Show Hidden Files and Folders

ArcGIS Desktop Settings

  1. At every major update and service pack of ArcGIS, it's a good idea to consider resetting your user profile.
  2. Video / Drivers firmware Encourage your IT staff to keep your display adapter drivers up to date. If you are experiencing slow performance or crashes, and driver updates can't be done or do not help, try turning off the hardware acceleration:
    1. go to Customize > ArcMap Options
    2. go to the Data View tab.
    3. Uncheck "Enable Hardware Acceleration for supported layers". You may get a message the next time you open a map containing a Basemap Layer imploring you to enable hardware acceleration - choose not to, and check the box for "do not ask again".
  3. Set up and maintain your your Catalog tree "connections"
      1. Set up connections to folders you use a lot for quick access. (But not too many. 10 is a good rule of thumb.)
      2. Turn off entries you don't use in ArcCatalog-ArcMap Customize > Options
  4. ArcCatalog Customize/Options.
    Many of these settings apply to all Desktop applications (ArcMap, ArcScene, etc)
    1. General tab:
      • Unset top level entries that you don't use
      • Unset Hide file extensions
    2. File Types tab:  
      • Add any file types you want visible in Catalog (for example, pdf, zip, py). Do not add file types ArcGIS can see already (.xls, .txt).
    3. Contents tab:
      • Set checkboxes: Size, Modified and Read/Write.
    4. Metadata tab:
      • Leave the Metadata style at Item Description (change to FGDC CSDGM Metadata or North American Profile of ISO 19115 to see full metadata when needed)
      • Set Automatically update when metadata is viewed
    5. Raster tab
      • Raster Dataset sub-tab
        • Select the radio button: Never build pyramids and don't prompt in the future (you can always build them when you need them)
        • Click the File Formats button, and turn off raster formats you do not use.
          This may dramatically speed up ArcGIS file browsing, and you can always turn on a format you need.
          Control-click to clear all and add just the most common raster formats you use. Here's a good list to start with:
          • Arc/Info BIL, ASCII GRID
          • BMP
          • GIF
          • GRID, GRID Stack
          • JP2, JPEG
          • MrSID
          • PNG
          • TIFF
      •  Set Maximum number of unique values to render to 500000.
    6. Display Cache tab
      • If you use map services (basemaps), it's a good idea to move the display cache to a local folder off your C: drive so it doesn't fill it up and hobble Windows.
      • You should also clear the cache when it gets above a couple GB with the Clear Cache button.

Geoprocessing settings

  • ArcCatalog settings (saved on ArcCatalog exit) become the default of new ArcMap documents.
  • ArcCatalog - Geoprocessing / Geoprocessing Options
    • Set Overwrite the outputs
  • ArcCatalog - ArcToolbox  window - remove toolsets you do not need, and add ones you want in the window. (You can change these later.) The ArcToolbox window tools set up in ArcCatalog are the default for new ArcMap documents.

Advanced ArcMap Settings

  • The Advanced ArcMap Settings utility provides access to a few specialized customization settings for ArcMap.
  • This exe is in the install folder: C:\ArcGIS\Desktop10.x\Utilities.
  • Some of these settings can only be applied if the utility is started with administrative access. 
  • The documentation for this utility—ArcGIS Desktop Advanced Settings Registry Keys—is in the same location. Refer to this document for instructions on using the utility.


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