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mxd will not open?

3 Answer(s) Available
Answer # 1 #

Only products related to the ArcGIS suite produced by Esri can read and open MXD files.  ArcMap document files contain map, specifics about the GIS data used (including pointers to the file location for each dataset), display information (symbology and labeling) and other elements used in ArcMap.

ArcMap document files don’t physically store GIS data but contain pointers to the location of the GIS data.  GIS data that is not locatable when opening an ArcMap document file will be noted by an exclamation point (!) next to the data symbology in the legend section of the ArcMap table of contents.

Natively, ArcMap layouts can be exported to a range of graphic file format including PDF files.

To export a MXD file to QGIS format, Allan Maungu developed an ArcToolBox called MXD2QGS that will export layers from ArcMap to QGIS format.

To reduce the size of an ArcMap document files file, run the ArcGIS Document Defragmenter utility.  This utility defragments the storage with a MXD file to reduce its file size.  DocDefragmenter.exe can be found in the Tools folder of the ArcGIS Developer Kit. can also reduce ArcMap document files file sizes up to 60%.  To use, open up ArcMap (without selecting a file), run CompactMXD.exe, navigate to the MXD file(s) you want to compress, select the MXD files and click compress.  The new compacted files will have .compact.mxd as the new extension.

Broken ArcMap document files can be fixed using the MXD doctor utility.  The utility is a standalone (.exe) files located in the Tools folder of the ArcGIS Developer Kit.

The utility first analyzes the state of the broken file.

The utility analyzes the various components that make up an ArcMap document file: Maps – Data Frames, Page Layout, VBA Project, Style Gallery, and Thumbnail Preview.  The results of the analysis then indicate the recoverable status of each of those components.  Recoverable entities can then be copied into a new or existing .mxd file.

srvzknst Ellingsgaard
Answer # 2 #

You open your MXD to be greeted with a series of red exclamation points in the Table of Contents instead of your data drawing in the Display Window.

ArcGIS saved the path names from the machine you started your project, and the drive directories referenced by those path names are not the same on the machine you are currently working on. For example, if you were working off an external hard drive at school, and the school computer called it “E:”, then your home computer calls that same drive “F:”, the path name will be wrong.

Locates the data when ArcMap cannot find it. You will know it can’t find it when the each layer name is proceeded with a red exclamation point. Repair data source is greyed out the rest of the time.

You are attempting to do some action in ArcMap or ArcCatalog and you have gotten a super “friendly” message that the action cannot be completed due to an existing lock.

ArcGIS works on a constant cache system, meaning if a file is in use in one program (another ArcGIS suite software, Excel, Word...) it cannot be used/changed modified in ArcMap.

The only way to release the lock is to close the offending program (the error won’t tell you, but it’s whatever program you’re not currently using) and wait a minute or three for the program to completely close and the lock to be released. Then try your action again. If it still fails, try closing all your programs, the relaunching ArcCatalog/ArcMap and try again. If it still fails, lastly, try opening a new, blank ArcMap session, adding the offending file, and try your action again.

You ran a tool from the ArcToolbox, and it failed. When you check the messages (either by clicking the link in the “failed” pop up, or Geoprocessing Menu > Results > + Current Session > + Tool Name > + Messages), the error code is a super helpful “Background Server Threw an Exception”.

The background server threw an exception! Duh! But for real, some part of the background processing failed when running the tool.

The “background exception” error is hit or miss. There really isn’t a “prevention”. Sorry.

You’ve saved your MXD in the GIS lab, but when you try to open it at home, it gives an error that this file can only be opened with ArcMap 10.x.

ArcGIS is not backwards compatible, meaning, that MXD’s created in an earlier version will open in a later version but MXDs created in a later version will not open in an earlier version. For example, 10.1 MXD files will open in 10.3, but 10.3 MXD files will not open in 10.1.

In all cases where the goal is to open an MXD in an earlier version of ArcMap, you must save a copy before you close out of the later version. That is to say, before you leave the GIS lab where the computers are running 10.3, you must first “Save a Copy” and designate the version you wish to save the MXD as.

You attempt to run a tool, but when you click to open it, your presented with an error message stating the tool is not licensed and ArcGIS is unable to execute the selected tool.

Each extension in ArcGIS costs money beyond the base price of the software, and many school and companies save money by not purchasing extensions they do not need or only purchasing a limited amount of licenses to be shared on a network of several users. To allow everyone access to all of the licences, extensions must be enabled before tools within that particular toolbox can be launched. Enabling the extension checks it out from a central location and allows the tools associated with it to be utilized.  Think about it like a public library. Instead of purchasing tons of copies of one particular best-seller, they purchase a limited number of copies, then lend them out free of charge to their registered users. While the book is checked out, no one else can read it. ArcGIS extensions work the same way - the extension will only work for the same number of computers for which the company or school has paid for until they are checked back in.

To fix this error:

To enable an extension:

If the extension is not available (not paid for or all the copies are checked out), instead of a check mark appearing in the box, a different pop-up will appear stating “There is no license name currently available”

The only real “prevention” is to make sure the extension is enabled prior to trying to run a tool. This, however, is not a real “problem”, it can just be annoying occasionally.

When you use the dropdown to “Add Basemap”, it is missing OR you’ve successfully selected a basemap but it will not load in ArcMap.

While it’s hard to tell from here, it’s most likely an internet or software problem.

The first thing to try is: saving your MXD, launching ArcMap with an new, blank map, closing ArcMap, and opening your MXD again. This most likely won’t work, but it’s worth a try.

The next thing to try is adding the basemaps as an ArcGIS Server.

There really isn’t anything you can do to prevent it, as it was most likely caused by an internet or software error. The only thing you can do is make sure your connection is good, or use the ArcGIS Server Method.

You attempt to add a sheet from an .xlsx file (problem does not seem to occur with .xls files), and ArcMap gives an error of “Failed to Connect to Database. An underlying database error occurred. Class not registered”.

ArcGIS sees Excel files as database files (we learned they were data tables - of which database files are a type of data table), and is unable to read it. I don’t really have a very specific reason other than that. Sorry.

Close ArcMap (saving your .mxd, if needed). Visit and download the driver. Install it as you would any other .exe This driver plug in doesn’t require a restart. Restart ArcMap and attempt to add the sheet again. There shouldn’t be an error this time.

Fort Wu
Chief Business Development Officer
Answer # 3 #

Opening the selected ArcMap document failed.

An unexpected error occurred while loading the map document.

The data frames of the map document could not be read due to the following 0x80004005 (Unspecified error)

The last successfully loaded component was:

Unknown ProgID ({00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000})

The specified file does not contain a valid ArcMap document or was saved using a newer version of ArcGIS.

Most maps seem to open fine.

I am yet to completely uninstall-reinstall.

Any other ideas?

Molly Apted