The Top 10 ArcGIS Tools

Let’s be honest, Top 10 lists are critically important these days and I thought why not put tons of effort into researching the ArcGIS Desktop Top 10 Tools. So after compiling this list, I’m happy to share it with you.

10. - It’s where the magic begins. The New Map File button is where we start a new thought. That moment when you have a blank canvas and you know you can create anything. No matter how bad your current map is, one click of this button and you’re clean and fresh.

9. - Heck, GIS is locations of things right? How do you know how close things are? The measure tool of course. Hell you can do lines or polys. Fun stuff!

8. - Print, where the ink hits the paper. The old GIS plot function. Making GIS with your hands is what printing is all about, though I guess you aren’t actually using your hands. Still, print has some finality about it. Locked in ink your map becomes!

7. - Sometimes you need to go way out, like to the Full Extent. That’s where this bad boy comes into play. No matter how many layers you have, you’ll always get to the max with Full Extent.

6. - Now we’re getting down to the details here. Like it’s cousin Full Extent, Zoom In helps us understand our data more. But rather than seeing it whole, we get to look at the details. It’s a plus in my book.

5. - So you’re a GIS Analyst? This is where you make your big bucks, using Edit. Move some points around, select and just start massaging the data. Edit is where you are in control of the data. Nobody but you tells the GIS how to be.

4. - Save saves. No matter how buggy your data is or how buggy your GIS software is, Save makes sure your work is not lost. Sometimes you just press Save 3 or 4 times in an effort to make sure your work is really safe. But Save always comes on through.

3. - What’s the point of GIS analysis if you can’t add data? Well Add Data does just that, Add Data. It’s a plus to any project.

2. - You might be surprised to see Select Features be this low but how else can you select features? It would be like having hands without fingers. Sure you’d make it work but who doesn’t love fingers. Who doesn’t love Select Features?

1. - Select Elements is like the hand of God. Need to grab some part of the map and move or edit it? Select it. It looks just like your mouse pointer does telling you how important this tool is. It’s the default tool selected when you start up ArcMap. Identify doesn’t get that kind of respect.


- Who doesn’t love the madness of Zoom Out. It’s like Zoom In but opposite. You can click and your map zooms out a little bit. Or draw a box and have some sort of random zoom out function happen. You literally have no idea how far it will zoom out but that’s why your a GIS Analyst and not a GIS Technician.

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