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Converting multiple KML files into geodatabase for GIS project in ArcMap Desktop

Google Earth is wide-spread free GIS application which allows users to draw their own point, lines and polygons. Very often users create many separate files in KML or KMZ format and upon moving to the next step in GIS analysis are trying to recreate the same geographies in ArcGIS editing software. The fastest way to bring all those custom data into GIS project is described here. Assuming that you have Google Earth and ArcGIS Desktop 10.2 installed, bring all the KML/KMZ files into Google Earth through File\Open (you can select multiple files from the same folder):


Those files end up in Temporary Places folder and Google Earth zooms automatically to that folder. If you have all the files you want to bring to the same shapefile or geodatabase, right click the Temporary places folder and choose Save place As. Give it a name and make sure you saved as KML (not KMZ – zipped KML format):


That’s all for Google Earth. Now open ArcGIS Desktop and convert KML to geodatabase (newer versions of ArcMap, starting v.9 have it in Toolbox). On the top panel find a Toolbox dropdown menu and select Data Conversion\From KML to Layer:


Do not change default output folder (should be somewhere in the Documents\ArcGIS) and give new file a name (keep it short, less then 10 characters use only letters, numbers and _underscore). I had trouble with tool running from KMZ or with long output file name in other then default folder sometimes, but if you didn’t have problems, please, comment and I will revise this tutorial.

After you run the conversion successfully, the geodatabase would appear in your GIS project. Right click it and open attribute table. You might have several types of data there (points, lines and polygons), depending on what data were in original KML file. You might see something like this


In many cases the name of the polygon can be Untitled, so Start editor and name the polygons from the file name on the FolderPath (or some other name you fancy).

imageSometimes you need to add new fields from KML to another geodatabase. When you converted a set of fields from KML into geodatabase, merge them together. In ArcToolBox go to Data Management Tools\General\Merge (make sure that you rename one of the layers from Polygon to something else). the results of the merge can be saved as a new shapefile and then checked for duplicates, corrected.

Now the edited shapefile is ready to be added in geodatabase and potentially to be posted on ArcGIS server as a Map Service.

Very useful info, thanks!

Very useful info, thanks!