move project (aprx)

09-11-2017 11:21 AM
New Contributor II

Hi, I have a group of users all accessing data from geodatabases on a shared network drive.  I've noticed that if someone copies or moves an aprx file to another folder on the network, all data links are broken.  it's like ArcGIS pro is expecting relative paths by default, and resets all data paths to the new directory.  is it possible to have an ArcGIS pro project keep the source data paths the same when the project is moved?   the only workaround is to "save as" to the new directory, but often users want to simply move projects using windows explorer.  thanks

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18 Replies
MVP Emeritus

The toggle for 'relative pathnames' is gone.

Your work around is sound is you just want to move the aprx... otherwise for larger scale moves... bring the data with you, IF it is locally stored

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New Contributor II

thank you Dan.  For clarification, my end-users are used to simply moving MXD files around and placing them anywhere on the network. our central geodatabases are always in the same place on a network share (i.e. W:\GIS_Databases\database1.gdb). In ArcMap the data sources would remain intact when the MXD is moved.  Now they are doing the same thing with APRX files and wondering why the data sources are broken.

From a long term data management point of view, this could be a problem for me if directories with many APRX files need to be moved.  The central geodatabases will never move, only APRX files.

Occasional Contributor

This still doesn't work for me. If I move an .aprx file, along with it's data still in the same relative path, the data sources within the .aprx file are absolute paths to where the data used to exist and so layers are disconnected. I can't work out when it uses relative or absolute paths but really want to be able to have relative paths in my .aprx file.

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New Contributor II

i'm having some trouble recreating the issue consistently ..  i'm a bit baffled. there must be something i'm missing.

MVP Emeritus

Why don't you write out a couple of examples... one where moving the aprx works, and one where it didn't.  Maybe examining their paths and the data paths might make things clearer.

MVP Regular Contributor


As you experienced, ArcGIS Pro by default saves with relative paths.

However, this can only be done for those datasources that reside on the same drive as the *.aprx document. All other datasources will be saved with absolute paths.

E.g. take a look at these three situations:

- If the aprx resides on W:\, and the datasources (e.g. file geodatabases/shapefiles) as well, all the paths in the aprx will be relative.

- If the aprx resides on W:\, and some datasources reside on W😕 as well, but other datasources of the same project on e.g. D:\, then the datasources to W😕 will be relative, but the datasources pointing to D😕 will be absolute.

- If the aprx resides on D😕 but all datasources on W:\, all paths will be absolute.

I think your current confusion arises because you have a mixture of the above situations, with some ArcGIS Pro project documents having mixtures of relative and absolute paths, others only relative paths, and others only absolute paths.

New Contributor II

thank you Marco - what you said makes sense.  I believe your analysis holds true if you have created a fresh new ArcGIS Pro project.

I have encountered some inconsistency with imported MXDs, and file paths breaking after the APRX file is copied and pasted using windows explorer.  Perhaps this is to be expected.

I appreciate your thorough analysis.


New Contributor III

Thank you for describing this. I'm experiencing these issues now and your description might help me understand what's happening as we make the transition to Pro. After the ease of moving the mxd's knowing the data never moves, these issues were/are both unexpected, and having serious impacts, especially assisting end users in other offices with less experience. 


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Esri Contributor

Hi there

I can reproduce this

Create a new Project

Create a new FGDB and Feature class

Create a new map

Add the new Feature class and create some data > Save edits

Save the Map and project

Close ArcGIS Pro

browse to the location of the APRX

Copy that APRX to a new location > (I just moved it up one directory folder)

Open the copied APRX and you get the error

Apr 17, 2018 2:43 PM - YouTube