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Selecting records in a table

Release 9.2
Last modified December 18, 2007
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About selecting records in tables

There are various ways to select features in ArcMap. One way is to select features through an attribute table. From a table, you can interactively select records by pointing at them, or you can select those records that meet some criteria, for example, find all cities with a population greater than one million.

Once you've defined a selection, you'll see those features highlighted on your map. For example, suppose you wanted to find the locations of the five cities with the largest population. You would sort the records in the table in descending order based on population, then select the top five records in the table to see them highlighted on the map. You can add to your selected set using any other ArcMap selection methods.

Many of the ways you can work with selections in the table window have keyboard or mouse shortcuts. To learn about them, see Keyboard shortcuts for working with tables.

How to select records in tables

Viewing all or only the selected records

  1. Open the table.
  2. At the bottom of the table window, click Show All to view all records or click Show Selected to view only the selected records.


  • When you open a layer's attribute table in ArcMap, it always opens the table in Show All mode. To open a table directly in Show Selected mode, make sure some features are selected on the map. Then, right-click the layer in the table of contents, point to Selection, and click Open Table Showing Selected Features.

Interactively selecting records in a table

  1. Open the attribute table for a layer on your map.
  2. Click the leftmost box in the table adjacent to the record you want to select. To select consecutive records, you can click and drag the mouse.
  3. Press and hold the Ctrl key while clicking additional records.
  4. You can also select a range of records in a table by clicking the first record in the desired range and then holding down the Shift key and clicking the last record in the range. This is in addition to the ability to click a record to select it and then drag up or down to select a range of records.


  • When you are viewing a table in Show All mode, you can use the Select/Unselect command in the record context menu to add a record to the selected set, or remove it from it, without holding down the Shift or Ctrl keys.

Selecting records in a table by attributes

  1. Click Options in the table you want to query and click Select By Attributes.
  2. Click the Method drop-down arrow and click the selection procedure you want to use.
  3. Double-click the field from which you want to select.
  4. Click the logical operator you wish to use.
  5. Click the Get Unique Values button, then scroll to and double-click the value in the Unique Values list you wish to select.
  6. Optionally, you can type a value directly into the text box.
  7. Click Verify to verify your selection.
  8. Click Close.
  9. Your selection is highlighted in the table.


  • Use Apply if you intend to run more than one query or if you wish to check your results before closing the Select By Attributes dialog box.
  • You can save and reload selection expressions using the Save and Load buttons at the bottom of the Select By Attributes dialog box. This lets you quickly re-create a selected set of records by loading a saved expression.
  • Click Help on the Select By Attributes dialog box to learn about building a query.

Selecting all records

  1. Click Options in the table window and click Select All.
  2. You can also click the box in top-left corner of the table view next to field heading to select all or deselect all records.


  • The Selection menu contains additional tools for selecting features.

Clearing the selected set

  1. Click Options in the table window and click Clear Selection.
  2. You can also right-click a box on the left side of the table view and click Clear Selection.


  • The Selection menu contains additional tools for selecting features.
  • You can right-click the row button on the left side of the table and be able to deselect individual records.

Switching the selected set

  1. Click Options in the table and click Switch Selection.

Removing records from the selected set in Show Selected Records view

  1. In Show Selected Records view, right-click a record and click Unselect to remove that record from the selection.
  2. To remove the highlighted records (those displaying in yellow, by default), right-click, and click Unselect Highlighted, or press Backspace.

Copying records for pasting into other applications

  1. Open the table and select some records.
  2. Right-click a box on the left side of the table window and click Copy Selected.
  3. You can paste the records into another application, such as a text editor or spreadsheet program. You can also paste the records into a table in ArcMap if you are in an edit session.


  • You can press Ctrl + Shift + C to copy the selected records onto the clipboard.

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