ArcMap won't open any other kind of file except .shp

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09-01-2016 05:44 PM
New Contributor III

I'm trying to create a new level of data on my map but ArcMap will only recognize .shp files, how can I fix this? I already decompressed the entire .zip folder. 

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New Contributor III

Okay so I moved the .dbf file, for example, to another directory, but when it opened a General Failure Message appeared on the bottom right of the screen and messed everything up. HELP!!!

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Occasional Contributor

Are you trying to open shapefile data or adding other (non shapefile) data?

If a shapefile, sounds like you are trying to move one of the component files of a shapefile . A "shapefile" actually consists of several separate files (as seen in Windows Explorer). Basic shapefile will have four files - .shp, .shx, .dbf, .cpg - with potentially others (e.g. a .prj file if the files has a coordinate system described for it). All the files must be in the same folder location and cannot be separated.

If you are trying to add other data (e.g. .dbf file of point data which has coordinates) try adding through  File  >  Add Data  >  Add XY Data - you can select the data location and match the XY coordinates to the relevant dbf file field names.

New Contributor III

I downloaded a .zip folder which contains all of the formats you just mentioned, but when I open the decompressed file folder on ArcMap only the .shp file shows up. Is this normal or are the other types of files supposed to show? 

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MVP Esteemed Contributor

if all you have is a file with a *.shp file extension and not a similarly named file with a *.dbf and a *.shx extension... then it was improperly zipped and is useless... to clarify a shapefile will consist of at least 3 files ...

test.shp, test.dbf and test.shx   and there can be others with the same name, but differing extension.

New Contributor III

Yes, the .zip file has 7 other files as you described. So those files are just part of the shp file that does open up, and are not supposed to open individually, right?

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MVP Esteemed Contributor

No.... they are a collective... they form 1 shapefile, think of the individual files as a piece of the whole.

To use them, you use the Add Data button and navigate to the folder where the zip file was unzipped.  You don't double-click, or click or right-click on any part of the file in Windows Explorer.

The can only be view, when you 'Add' the data to ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro.

Basics can be found in the left pane of this link... there is a tutorial should you need it too.

Documentation | ArcGIS for Desktop 

MVP Notable Contributor

Hi Kaylani,

What are you trying to do exactly? What files do you need to open? If you're having issues with data files, can you post them here in an attachment so that others can try too? What version of ArcMap are you running?

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New Contributor III

I'm just trying to know if just the .shp files are the only ones that ArcMap will open up in the folder, even if the .zip file contains other types of file formats. Here are the files of the first .zip folder I tried.

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MVP Esteemed Contributor

they are the files for one shapefile... why did you zip them individually?  they all constitute the RCRPER_EPA shapefile.

Once you use the Add Data tool to load it into arcmap, you can then right-click on the layer in the table of contents of the data frame, the Open the table for the shapefile... that is how you access the tabular information