Show Navigation | Hide Navigation
You are here:
Mapping and visualization > Navigating and interacting with maps > Interacting with maps

Finding features and locations

Release 9.2
Last modified January 9, 2008
E-mail This Topic Printable Version Give Us Feedback

Print all topics in : "Interacting with maps"

Related Topics

About finding features and locations

You can explore and query your data by finding particular geographic features, addresses, and places. For example, if you are trying to find Afghanistan on a map of the world, open the Find dialog box, type Afghanistan, or just Afgh, and you'll get a list of the features that contain that search string in any of their attributes. You can also search for cities, countries, parks, rivers, nearby places of interest, and so on. In addition, you can find routes and generate driving directions between locations (stops) on the map.

You will need an Internet connection to perform queries that access Web-based services to provide a result. These include finding places and finding addresses with online address locators. Access to some services is available to all users, and you can choose from additional ones if you are an ESRI ArcWeb Services user and are currently signed in.

Once the results of a query are displayed, you can navigate to the location. Click an entry in the results list to flash it on the map; double-click to pan to it (center the map on its location); or right-click to add a graphic marker or callout label at the place, create a spatial bookmark, add it to a list of your favorite places, and so on. If you have selected multiple entries in the list, all the context menu commands work on the selected items.

How to find features and locations

Finding features

  1. Click the Find button Find button on the Tools toolbar.
  2. Click the Features tab.
  3. Type the string you want to find in the Find text box.
  4. Click the In layers drop-down arrow and click the layer you want to search.
  5. Uncheck Find features that are similar to or contain the search string if the string must match exactly.
  6. Search for the string in all fields, in a specific field, or in the primary display field.
  7. Click Find.


  • The primary display field contains the name or identifying characteristic of the feature. For example, on a map of the world, you might set the primary display field to the field that contains the country names. The primary display field is set on the Fields tab of the Layer Properties dialog box.
  • When searching for numeric values, the whole number must be entered. For example, if your table contains a number field with the value 1011, you can find it by specifying 1011 but not 10 or 11 or 101, and so on.

Finding places

Finding places requires an Internet connection.

  1. Click the Find button Find on the Tools toolbar.
  2. Click the Places tab.
  3. Choose a service from the Services drop-down list.

  4. In the Place box, type the name of a place.

  5. Choose a place type to limit your search to a specific type of place. The place type list is provided by the service, and some services do not support place types.

  6. Set the Candidates value to the number of places to display that meet your criteria.

  7. Use the Search drop-down list to limit your search spatially. You can search the full extent of the data in your map or the current visible extent.

  8. Click Find.

  9. Right-click a result to flash, zoom, or pan to the place. You can also create a spatial bookmark, add a marker or callout, and so on.


  • Strings separated by commas after the first string are used to help narrow the search in other fields of the database. Below are three scenarios for a Place Finder search:
    • Simple search for a city name:
    • Boise
    • Search for a city and state:
    • Boise, Idaho

    • Search for a city, state, and country:
    • Boise, Idaho, US

    Each additional substring further restricts the search. If one of the substrings is not listed with the main search term in the database, the request does not return a match.
  • The Candidates box allows you to specify the maximum number of search candidate hits you want to be returned. Increasing this value will give you more candidates but increases the time it takes to process and return the results, so a small number is recommended. The default is 20.
  • You should normally not specify more than 100. The maximum number of candidates a service will return depends on the particular service being used. If you specify more than the maximum number allowed, you'll get a warning message back from the service.
  • See for more information about ArcWeb Services and how you can get a subscription or an evaluation.

Finding nearby places

Finding nearby places requires an Internet connection.

  1. Click Tools, point to Online Services, and click Find Nearby Places.
  2. Click the Origin drop-down list and choose an origin for this query-that is, the location around which you wish to find certain sorts of places.

  3. Once you have defined the origin, you can use the Flash and Pan buttons to flash the origin on the map or re-center the map on the origin.
  4. Choose a service from the Services drop-down list.
  5. Click the Place Type drop-down list and choose the type of place you want to find from the service. Most services do not let you choose which type of place you want to find. You can leave this dropdown set to Any, or leave it blank if the selected service doesn't provide any place types at all.
  6. Set the Candidates value to the number of places to display that meet your criteria.
  7. To specify a search radius from the origin, check the Within box and specify a distance and unit.
  8. Click Find.
  9. Right-click a result to flash, zoom, or pan to the place. You can also create a spatial bookmark, add a marker or callout, and so on.

Finding routes and getting driving directions

Finding routes requires an Internet connection.

  1. Click Tools, point to Online Services, and click Find Route.
  2. Click the Stops tab.
  3. Choose a service from the Services drop-down list.
  4. Click the buttons to add stops to the list from the My Places list or selected graphics or features. To add a stop by clicking a location on the map, click the Get Position tool Get Position tool on this dialog box and click the location. You can also load and save routes (.grf file).
  5. Click the arrow buttons to move stops up and down in the list.
  6. To navigate the map to a stop, click the Zoom To or Pan To buttons on the dialog box. You can also right-click a stop to access commands for navigating, adding graphics or callouts to the map, or renaming and removing stops.
  7. To return to the beginning or another stop, check the Return to box and choose the stop.
  8. Click Find Route.
  9. Click the View Directions tab to see the driving directions. From that tab, you can also choose the route units, change the language displayed, copy the results to the clipboard, and print the directions.
  10. If you make a change to the language, units, or other options, click the Find Route button again to re-generate the directions.


  • Click the Options tab to specify preferences for calculating the route and how the stops and routes are displayed on the map.

  • The stops will be visited in the order they are listed, starting at the stop at the top of the list, unless you check Sequence stops automatically to optimize route on the Options tab.

  • Check the Return to box at the bottom of the Stops tab if you want your route to be a round trip.

  • To use reverse geocoding, click the Options tab, check Name stops added with tool using nearest address, and choose the address finder service that you want to use. When enabled, this will use an address to list each stop that has been added.

  • When reverse geocoding is turned on, the dialog box will find the nearest street address to the selected graphic, selected feature, or location you clicked with the Get Position tool and will use this address to show the stop in the list.

Finding addresses

    See Finding an individual address


  • You can find addresses in any document without loading an address locator. When you open the Find dialog box and click the Addresses tab, you'll see several online services available. Finding an address with online address locators requires an Internet connection.

Finding locations in route feature classes

    See Querying route feature classes

Please visit the Feedback page to comment or give suggestions on ArcGIS Desktop Help.
Copyright © Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc.