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Frequently Asked Questions about geoprocessing

Release 9.3
Last modified December 9, 2008
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Many times as a user, old or new, you run into the same issues. Where are custom toolboxes stored? How do I perform looping in ModelBuilder? How do I add a graphic to the dialog box side panel of my custom tool? These questions and others like them are common problems faced every day.

What follows is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that will help you solve some of the most common issues. The list is broken down by functional area.


  1. Where are custom models and scripts stored?
  2. Where is the merge tool?
  3. ArcGIS 8.x had the geoprocessing wizard. Is there anything similar in ArcGIS 9.2?
  4. What do I do when a tool fails because of geometry errors in my data?
  5. How do I show all system and custom toolboxes in the ArcCatalog tree?
  6. How do I make sure my outputs aren't overwritten by subsequent tool executions?
  7. Is there a way to find out what geoprocessing work was done the last time I was logged on?
  8. What is the licensing level of each geoprocessing tool (core and extension product)?
  9. Where can I find online information about geoprocessing?
  10. How do I run a geoprocessing tool batch style?
  11. Why can't I see/add/use the Coverage Tools toolbox?
  12. Why do I have to be an administrator to execute some tools?
  13. I know I can set environments (workspaces, tolerances, and so on) in a number of places, but which one takes precedence?
  14. Do the Raster Analysis environment settings affect all raster tools?
  15. How do I find the tool I need?
  16. How do I use selection sets in geoprocessing tools?
  17. How do I create a view or virtual feature class that supports a many-to-many relationship?
  18. How do I project data on the fly?
  19. How do I convert multipart features to single part?
  20. Is it possible to rename and/or omit fields when running a tool?
  21. When do I use Append? When do I use Merge?
  22. What is Field Mapping and when is it used?
  23. When do I use Copy Features or Copy Rows?
  24. How do I add coordinates as attributes to a point feature class?
  25. How do I use a text file with point coordinates as input to a tool?


  1. On the Model Properties dialog box there is an option to store relative paths. What does it mean?
  2. Why can't I see a list of values for a tool's parameter when I use it in ModelBuilder?

  3. How do I add a database connection model parameter to display existing database connections in a model?
  4. How do I export my model to a script?
  5. Is looping in ModelBuilder possible?
  6. How do I perform batch processing in ModelBuilder?
  7. I can run my model in ModelBuilder and everything's fine, but if I run it in the ArcToolbox window or at the command line, it doesn't produce any output. Why?
  8. Is all data in a model flagged as Intermediate?
  9. If I create a model to share with someone that includes tools at a license level higher than they have, or includes extension product tools that they don't have, will the model run?
  10. Is it possible to connect a tool whose output is a workspace or folder to a tool that requires a feature class as input?
  11. I've opened my model in edit mode and tried to run it; it fails but it looks like it's ready to run. Why won't it run?
  12. Are there any rules about which process will run first in a model?
  13. Can I create a generic model so users can choose their own data?


  1. Why can't I get any geoprocessing tools to run in my script?
  2. Is it possible to schedule a geoprocessing script to run at prescribed times?
  3. If I create a script to share with someone that includes tools at a license level higher than they have, or includes extension product tools that they don't have, will the script run?
  4. Where can I find additional information about geoprocessing scripts, including samples?
  5. Will AMLs run in the new geoprocessing framework?
  6. How do I overwrite outputs in a Python script?

Documentation and metadata

  1. What are the documentation sources available to me?
  2. How do I add a graphic to the dialog box side panel of my custom tool?
  3. How can I create a template for my help and use it for all my custom tools?
  4. In ArcGIS 9.2, why doesn't the help system table of contents autosync when I open it from a geoprocessing tool?

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