Sharing data and documents across the various versions of ArcGIS Desktop

Blog Post created by geonetadmin on Sep 25, 2009
ArcGIS logo

Hi all! This is Jim B. with the Eastern Support Services Desktop unit and a few tips to keep you going strong. We each have found ourselves in situations where customers, clients and colleagues are using different versions of ArcGIS Desktop. If you upgrade immediately after a new release, you may find the need to share geodatabases or map documents with those who haven’t had a chance to upgrade yet. Fortunately, there is a quick and easy way to share data and documents between versions of ArcGIS Desktop.

 Map Documents

To send a map document that is compatible with an earlier release of ArcGIS Desktop, you’ll need to save it for that particular version. For example, if you are using ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.1 and you need to send your map document to a colleague that is using ArcGIS Desktop 9.2, a copy of the map document needs to be saved specifically for ArcGIS Desktop 9.2. To do this:

    1. Open the Map document you need to send.

    1. Go to the File Menu and scroll down to ‘Save a Copy’.

    1. In the ‘Save a Copy’ dialog box, add a ‘File Name’ for the document and ‘Save a Copy’ as “ArcMap 9.2 Document”.

  1. Click ‘Save’.

This saves a copy of your ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.1 map document that is compatible with ArcGIS Desktop 9.2.


Sometimes it is necessary to share entire geodatabases with others, but they could all be using different versions of ArcGIS Desktop. With the exception of ArcGIS Desktop versions 9.0 and 9.1 as well as version 9.2 SP5/SP6 and 9.3 being compatible with each other, previous versions of ArcGIS Desktop cannot read or access geodatabases created from later releases of ArcGIS Desktop. It is possible to work around this by adding feature classes to a geodatabase that was created using an earlier release. To do this:

    1. Make sure that the Geodatabase does not contain any objects that are specific to the newer release.

    1. Create a new personal geodatabase using the previous release of ArcGIS Desktop.

    1. With the current release of ArcGIS Desktop, copy/paste the data into the geodatabase created by the previous release of ArcGIS Desktop.

  1. The geodatabase now contains the data from the current geodatabase and can be used by the previous release of ArcGIS Desktop.

More details can be found using the following links to the Knowledge Base:

 How can previous versions of ArcGIS Desktop connect to geodatabases created with newer releases?

 How to share data from more recent versions of the Geodatabase with older versions of ArcGIS Desktop.

So, the next time you have a colleague that needs documents and data for an earlier release of ArcGIS Desktop and they think it's impossible, you’ll be able to impress them using your new knowledge of the sharing capabilities of ArcGIS Desktop.

- Jim B., Desktop group, Eastern Support Services - Charlotte, NC