Fun with GIS 282: Esri Access

02-01-2021 08:41 AM
Esri Regular Contributor
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One of the puzzles that new administrators of ArcGIS Online Organizations encounter is "Esri access." It's a simple power, but can indeed confuse people. It means that an ArcGIS Online username (i.e. a login to is approved to log into websites. "Wait … what?"

Esri technology involves two key domains:

  • = "about mapping": general Esri news; info about products, industries, and events; training and support; community; my institution's license details; etc
  • = "doing mapping": public ArcGIS Online (, ArcGIS Online Organizations (, Hub sites (, StoryMaps (, Survey123 (, etc

As a colleague described it, logins are kind of like passports. Not all passports get you into another country with fullest possible powers, and not all logins get you into with fullest possible access.

Public account logins to that are fully configured have "Esri access" enabled. Users of these accounts can log in at sites and do things noted above, attached to that personal login. Some public accounts (e.g. those generated by social login) may not be fully configured, and may need to provide additional info (at to have full access to things public accounts can do.

Organization account logins by default do not have "Esri access" enabled, even for the Org admin. Since Organizations are designed for multiple people with different capabilities, and a single person might be working in multiple Orgs, the default is for this privilege to be automatically not enabled. (See Help documentation.)

Why might schools want to enable certain logins to have access to for some activities?

  • Training: Teachers and students might want to take courses at, and have their training history attached to their login. (Teachers might want to consider having this attached to their personal account login, which follows them even if they leave the school account.)
  • Download software: Some individuals may need permission to download specific desktop software for installation.
  • Events: Some teachers might need to register for an Esri Event using their login attached to their workplace.
  • Community: To post questions on GeoNet or respond to items in blogs at sites, a user needs to log into a given zone with that permission.

Why might schools NOT want to enable Esri access for certain logins? Typically, it boils down to security. Some administrators believe in providing access to privileges only on an as-needed basis, and are just happier having fewer things to check, like GeoNet comments, replies to blogposts, or requests to attend events.

So what? I receive frequent emails from users and even admins in distress who, unsure of login or password, went to and entered their email address, and received an indication like this generic presentation (I've boldfaced the key items):

= = =
Organizational Account : [their username]
  Organization Name : [their Organization]
  Organization Admin Contact(s): [admin's name (admin's email)]
  Esri Access : disabled
= = =

Panicked, they want to know what happened, what they need to undo, and how they can get back in to make maps. I respond with this text:

= = =
"Esri access not enabled" or "Esri access disabled" does not mean a user is locked out from making maps. It only means that ArcGIS Online Org admins have not granted to that particular username the permission to sign into special places on, such as to converse on GeoNet (, or to take courses on Esri's Training site (, or to view the institution's license information (, or to reply to Esri blog posts. That username may still make maps, publish data, and share items, to the limit allowed by the Org admin. The default setting for any new username is "Esri access disabled" (even for the admin), and an admin must proactively change that if s/he wants to allow those special privileges. See "Managing Esri Access" (p.30) of See also
= = =

Last, admins will find easy tools for handling bulk enable or disable of Esri access from the wonderful collection that is GEO Jobe's AdminTools. The free standard tools offer the easiest way to manage more than a handful of individuals.

About the Author
** Esri Education Mgr, 1992-today ** Esri T3G staff, 2009-present ** Social Studies teacher, grades 7-12, 1977-1992 (St. Paul, MN) ** NCGE Distinguished Teacher Award 1991, George J Miller Award 2016 ** ** ** Only action based on education can save the world.