You have the ability to establish a number of preferences for ArcMap and your map document on the ArcMap Options dialog box. Once set, these options are saved as properties of your map document and are used each time the map document is opened in subsequent sessions or until they are changed.
To open the ArcMap Options dialog box, click Customize > ArcMap Options on the main menu.
This dialog box includes a number of tabs. Each tab corresponds to specific options you can set and use:
- General—Enable options for the application.
- Data View—Enable hardware acceleration and coordinate display in your map's data frames. Also set default label engine and font name and size for .mxds.
- Layout View—Enable options for page unit guides and grids and for snapping various map elements to these page locations.
- Metadata—Set the metadata style and update rules.
- Tables—Enable options for table appearance, prompts and warnings for various table states, and attribute join properties.
- Raster—Enable properties for band combinations for multiband display and rules for pyramid generation.
- CAD—Enable options for recognizing DGN files.
- Sharing—Enable options for packaging and publishing.
- Display Cache—Enable properties to specify the cache location, clear an existing cache, and view its size.
Here you can set options for the application. These include defining ArcMap's startup behavior. Here you can set ArcMap to automatically do the following:
- Turn off the ArcMap splash screen.
- Open the ArcMap Getting Started dialog box.
- Open the Add Data dialog box.
- Open the last saved map document.
Learn more about starting ArcMap
Other options available on this tab include:
- Change the default visibility of newly added layers.
- Set Add Data to use the last location accessed instead of the home folder of the current map document.
- Display wizards if available.
- Use relative paths to reference data in new map documents.
Using relative paths doesn't mean that the layers in your document will never need repairing. Even with relative paths, it is still possible for a document to be unable to find its data sources if the document or the data sources are moved to a different location relative to each other, such as to a different part of the folder hierarchy or to a different disk.
To review or change this setting for your current document, click File > Map Document Properties to open the Map Document Properties dialog box.
- Set the default layer when identifying features.
- Choose the highlight color for features containing hyperlinks.
- Keep drawing tools active after creating the graphic. This option allows you to easily draw multiple graphics. The ArcMap default behavior automatically activates the Select Elements tool to allow you to immediately manipulate the graphic.
- Define the behavior of the mouse wheel and Continuous Zoom/Pan tools when navigating data frames and layouts.
Data View options
On this tab, you can set how you work with your map when you are in data view:
- Enable continuous display during navigation when connected through a remote desktop session.
When continuous display is enabled, ArcMap updates the display of basemap layers continuously during navigation operations such as pan and zoom. When continuous display is not enabled, ArcMap updates the display of basemap layers only after navigation is completed. This option has no effect on basemap layer display updates when not connected via remote desktop. This setting is not recommended for remote desktop sessions over low-bandwidth connections. This setting is applied over all .mxds.
- Enable hardware acceleration.
Hardware acceleration improves the refresh rate of supported layers, such as basemap layers and any raster layers accelerated with the Image Analysis window during navigation. If this check box is unavailable, it indicates that this session of ArcMap cannot utilize hardware acceleration. This can occur if ArcMap is running over a remote desktop session or on a computer whose graphics hardware's drivers are out of date or corrupted, or if the computer's graphics hardware does not support the necessary functionality. This setting is applied over all .mxds.
- Customize coordinate display in your map's data frames.
This refers to the x,y coordinate readout in the status bar at the bottom of the ArcMap window and in the feedback you get in the status bar when you draw graphics with the tools from the Draw toolbar. Options include setting the number of decimals, using thousands separators, and padding values with zeros. This setting is stored in the current map document (.mxd file) and only applies to this map.
By default, ArcMap displays the x,y coordinate readout in the bottom right-hand corner of the ArcMap window in the display units of the data frame. Display units are set on the General tab of the Data Frame Properties dialog box (View > Data Frame Properties). You can choose to use different units to display the coordinates. This option does not affect the units used to report the dimensions of graphics that you draw with the tools from the Draw toolbar or of features you create or edit in an edit session using the Editor toolbar. The length, area, and perimeter of graphics that you draw are always reported in display units. When you edit features, their dimensions are reported in the map units of the data you are editing; when you enter x,y coordinates while editing, they are also specified in map units.
Setting the x,y display units is useful if you are experimenting with different coordinate systems for your map and you want the x,y coordinate readout to remain unchanged. When you change the coordinate system of a data frame on the Data Frame Properties dialog box, Display defaults to the map units of the coordinate system you choose. By using this option to override the display units, you can keep the x,y readout in the status bar constant.
- Set default labeling properties.
By default, new .mxds open using the Standard Label Engine. You can change the default label engine to the Maplex Label Engine and set a different font name and size for labeling. This will not change the label engine and font for existing .mxds, only for newly created projects.
Layout View options
Here you can enable options for working with the page layout:
- Set the layout view appearance.
You can choose to stretch contents when the window is resized. By default, ArcMap does not stretch the contents of the window.
You can show horizontal and vertical guides to help you precisely place elements on the page layout. These can be preset in a template.
By default, ArcMap displays a dashed line around the active data frame. The active data frame is the one to which commands that you use, such as Add Data, Full Extent, Select By Attributes, and Zoom To Selected Features, are applied when you are working in layout view. The dashed line is not part of your map layout and does not appear on your map when you print it.
However, you may sometimes want to hide this indication, for example, if you want to view your map exactly as it will appear when printed. If you turn off the active data frame indication, you can still see which data frame is active by looking in the table of contents: the active data frame's name is always shown in bold.
- Show and customize rulers along the page layout.
Rulers are displayed by default.
- Show and customize a grid within the page layout.
The grid is not on by default. Grids can be preset in a template.
- Enable snapping properties.
This allows you to snap page layout elements, such as a legend or north arrow, to any or all of these: guides, grids, rulers, and printer margins. If you have chosen more than one, you can set snapping priority by reordering the list of guides, grids, rulers, or margins. Checked entries at the top of the list take priority over checked entries lower down the list.
For rulers, elements are snapped to the ruler's smallest division.
To snap to the printer's margin, Use Printer Paper Settings must be checked for Map Page Size on the Print Setup dialog box (File > Page and Print Setup); otherwise, elements snap to the page edge if Margins is checked. A check box on that dialog box also lets you choose whether the printer margins are shown in layout view.
These settings are stored in the current map document (.mxd file) and just apply to this map.
Here you can set the metadata style and update rules. A metadata style configures ArcGIS to create the metadata you want. It controls how you view metadata and also the pages that appear for editing metadata on the Description tab. It identifies the metadata standard or profile to be followed, the XML schema defining the valid XML format for that standard, and how to export metadata from ArcGIS to a stand-alone metadata XML file in that format. Choose the style from the available list.
The default style, Item Description, lets you create a brief description for an item that can be searched in ArcGIS and published to ArcGIS Online. This metadata style is best for individuals who don't need complete access to metadata or for organizations that don't need to adhere to metadata standards.
If you want to see or edit more information than is available with the Item Description metadata style or you must create metadata that complies with a metadata standard, choose another metadata style that provides access to an item's complete ArcGIS metadata.
By default, ArcGIS automatically creates metadata if it doesn't already exist and updates existing metadata for you. When you view metadata, elements that were updated automatically have an asterisk (*) next to their name or value. If you choose not to automatically create metadata, you can still create metadata for an item by editing it on the Description tab, but the metadata isn't updated automatically when you view it; metadata is still updated automatically when other operations are performed.
This tab provides a number of options that you can use to customize the way attributes are displayed in tables. Font, color, and size are properties that can be changed for attribute values, while color and cell sizes can be adjusted for the entire table. You can use characters to indicate indexed fields, display domain and subtype descriptions, and set field properties on the Layer Properties dialog box that are honored by the table. Also, you can set application behavior when performing attribute joins.
There are several options that can be defined to modify how your raster data is displayed. This allows you to save time and display your raster data consistently. On this tab, you can enable properties of raster datasets, raster catalogs, raster layers, and mosaic datasets.
These settings apply to all ArcGIS for Desktop applications. Changing any setting here changes it for all the applications.
Here you can enable the option for recognizing MicroStation DGN files.
MicroStation allows you to assign any file extension to design files. This setting enables ArcGIS to recognize these types of files as CAD drawings and CAD feature datasets. This support only applies to three-character file extension names. If this setting is not enabled, ArcGIS only recognizes files with .dgn file extensions as MicroStation design files.
These settings apply to all ArcGIS for Desktop applications. Changing any setting here changes it for all the applications.
The Sharing tab provides options for both publishing and packaging.
Publishing options include an option to change the publishing staging path along with an option to automatically save the document when publishing.
The staging path is the location where a map is staged before it is published. You can override this folder from an ArcGIS Server connection in ArcCatalog. This is also the default location for staged (saved) service definitions. You can override this location for an individual service definition within the Share As Service wizard.
The publishing process requires that the document be saved before it is published. You will be prompted to save the document before publishing and staging a service definition. Choosing to automatically save the document will keep you from having to interactively save the document every time you publish or save a service definition.
When publishing a cached service, ArcGIS returns a warning message box when the estimated cache exceeds a given size. You can change the threshold for the warning by entering a new size. If you do not want the warning message to appear, uncheck Show warning when cache exceeds.
Learn more about publishing services
For packaging, this tab has an option to support ArcGIS runtime tools when creating a map package. Once enabled, you will see this option in the Share as Map Package wizard. You can also choose the location to unpack packages.
Display Cache options
The display cache is a local disk cache on your computer that stores data for basemap layers, tiled images from cached map services from ArcGIS for Server, tiled images from other Internet map services, and the ArcGIS globe cache. ArcGIS for Desktop uses this display cache to help manage and improve display performance in ArcMap and ArcGlobe. Here you can enable properties to specify the cache location, clear an existing cache, and view its size.