MXD – Set Data Sources

On occasion we have a need to change the data sources for the layers in our MXD files. Some MXDs have quite a few layers, so it would be a pain to go through each one in ArcMap and change them. This might happen to you when your source data is moved to let’s say a new enterprise geodatabase and now you have to update your MXD files.

If you have not done so before, try the Set Data Source(s) tool in ArcCatalog. Just navigate to where your MXD file is, then right click on it and select the Set Data Source(s) option:

The tool will open showing you the data frames and all the layers including their current data sources.

Note the tool makes a copy of your MXD file. You will be editing this file instead of your original.

Now it is a matter of changing the paths to the new data sources. You can list your layers from all data frames, or select a specific data frame. If your layers all point to the same data location, just select them all with the Select All button, then click the Replace All button. You can then update the path location. Note that you are updating the path to the data location, not the data name. If your data’s name has changed as well, use the Browse For Data button (…) next to the new data source path for a layer you click on.

Because the changes are only applied to the layer’s data source, other layer properties like joins and relates or query definitions are not updated. For map documents, other customizations (VBA code, UI controls, and custom toolbars), graphs, and table window appearance properties are removed from .MXD files when you update their data sources using the Set Data Source(s) tool. To preserve these, update the data sources in ArcMap instead.

When done, click the OK button. Now open your new copy and see if it all works.

By the way, if you use ArcReader, this tool works on PMF files too!

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