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Enlightening Research

Importing KMZ/KML data into ArcMap and creating shapefile

Very often your collaborators/scouts send you their geographical data (points, lines, polygons) in KMZ/KML format as GoogleEarth application is freeware and readily available. In order to do GIS analysis on such data and incorporate them into your ArcMap project you will need to import such data into ArcMap.

1. Make sure you received KML and not KMZ (zipped KML package) data. If you received KMZ, open the file in Google Earth first and save as KML. Refer to this blog post for detail instructions. Note: You might try to work on KMZ directly in ArcMap, I confirmed that ArcMap 10.2 can import point data from KMZ file, but previous version and other data (lines, polygons) had given me problems in the past when I tried importing from KMZ directly.

2. Start ArcMap (new project or any project covering the area your data are coming from). Open ArcToolBox (click on the red toolbox icon on the top). In Conversion Tool/From KML start KML To Layer.


3. Browse to the KML file you saved and run the tool.




Do not rename output location from Users\….\Documents\ArcGIS. That prevented tool from running correctly.

When creating file name for new .lyr file, do not leave spaces and use _UNDERSCORE _ instead of dashes. ArcMap might not crush because of that, but such file names might give you problem in your GIS analysis in a long run.





4. If the process runs without error you will see a new layer added to your ArcMap project


5. To save the new layer file as a shapefile, right click on the geo-information type (points, lines, polygons have to be saved in separate shapefiles)  you want to save and select Data/Export Data…


Click on the folder icon and name shapefile you want to export.

Click OK and save shapefile.



6. You are DONE.

Hi Why do I only see:

Hi Why do I only see: Conversion Tools/To KML? and not:v/From KML? I just cannot import my KML into Gis Kind regards, Rinus

Dear Rinus. Which version of

Dear Rinus. Which version of ArcMap do you use? There should be option Tools/From KML as described in versions 10 and higher. I recall 8 and 9 did not have those options and there were third party scripts for that.

Larisa Golovko (Pozdnyakova), Ph.D. - President of Landviser, LLC