Work with ArcGIS Layers and Layer Packages E-mail this topicE-mail this topic Print this topicPrint this topic

A layer package (.lpk file) is a single, convenient, ready-to-use file containing an ArcGIS Desktop map layer or group layer and the data it uses. Layer packages were introduced in ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.1. Desktop users can create layer packages so they can easily share their data with other ArcGIS users, as well as make these layers, including their attributes and the way they have been symbolized, available for display in ArcGIS Explorer. Once you've added a layer package to ArcGIS Explorer you can work with its contents like any other layer. For example, if available you can click layer features to identify them, view a layer package's legend, hide and show its layers, etc.

To add a layer or layer package to ArcGIS Explorer
On the Home tab, in the Map group, click Add Content and then click Add Layers.... You'll see a dialog you can use to browse for ArcGIS Layers (*.lpk, *.lyr). Click Open to add the layer or layer package to the map.

To identify the attributes associated with a feature in the layer you've added
Move the mouse over the feature and click it. A popup window that displays the attributes that the package or layer creator has made available appears.

To view a layer's legend
  1. Select the layer in the Contents window.
  2. In the View group of the Tools tab click Show Legend or right-click the layer in the the Contents window and choose Show Legend in the context menu.


In addition to being able to add layers into a map using drag and drop from Windows Explorer directly into ArcGIS Explorer, or using Add Content>ArcGIS Layers... in the Map group on the Home tab, you can also launch layer files (.lyr files) and layer packages (.lpk files) by double-clicking them in Windows Explorer, Outlook e-mails, or by clicking links to them on web pages. When you launch a layer in this fashion, it will be sent to one of three applications: ArcMap, ArcGlobe. or ArcGIS Explorer. By default, the layer or layer package will be sent to the application that is currently running. So if ArcGIS Explorer is running, it will be sent to ArcGIS Explorer, and so on. If no application is running when you launch a layer and you have all three applications on your machine, ArcMap will start automatically and the layer or layer package will be added into it.

The ArcGIS File Handler utility lets you override this default behavior and start a particular application when you double-click a layer or layer package in Windows Explorer. You can find the utility in your Program Files\Common Files\ArcGIS\bin folder. Double-click ArcGISFileHandler.exe to run the utility. You'll see the following options in the ArcGIS File Handler dialog:

If you are an ArcGIS Desktop user, you may want to learn more about saving layers and layer packages to disk.