Resetting your ArcGIS application profile

Discussion created by curtvprice Champion on Aug 7, 2013
Latest reply on Jan 30, 2014 by curtvprice
When ArcGIS applications fail, or are behaving strangely, one of the first things to try is to reset your application template documents stored in your Windows application profile.

This simple step can resolve many problems with ArcGIS Desktop software.

It's a good idea to do this every few months, or whenever a service pack or update is applied to ArcGIS, as these template files gradually fill with cruft and will slow down your ArcGIS Desktop applications.

(The following steps are adapted from KB 32797: Error: ArcMap.exe has encountered an error and needs to close)

1. Close all ArcGIS Desktop applications

If you've been having problems, this may include killing "headless" processes using Task Manager.

2. Start Windows Explorer and open your application profile

The location of the user profile depends on the operating system:

- XP/2003/2000: C:\Documents and Settings\<your user name>\Application Data\ESRI
- Vista/7/2008: C:\Users\<your user name>\AppData\Roaming\ESRI
- The Application Data or AppData folder is hidden by default. If this folder is not visible, navigate to Tools > Folder Options > View tab, and select the option to show hidden files and folders.
- The easy way: Type %APPDATA% into the Windows Explorer address bar; this will take you directly to the folder that contains the application profile folder "ESRI", regardless of Windows version and "hidden" setting.

3. Browse within the ESRI folder and find the component you want to reset

Each component of the software has a template that stores settings and customizations for that part of ArcGIS. For example:

ArcCatalog: ESRI\DesktopXX.X\ArcCatalog\Normal.gxt
ArcMap: ESRI\DesktopXX.X\ArcMap\Templates\Normal.mxt
ArcToolbox window: ESRI\DesktopXX.X\ArcToolbox.dat

4. Remove the application template file by renaming it

Rename the app template file (for example, Normal.mxt to Normal_old.mxt). When that component of ArcGIS is started again, a new, fresh template is created. Note that some your customizations (buttons, file connections) may have to be re-applied. (Renaming instead of deleting allows you to revert back by copying over the fresh template if you need to.)

Alternatively, you can start totally fresh by renaming the entire ESRI folder to ESRI_old. A new, clean ESRI folder will be generated on the next ArcGIS Desktop app startup. You can recover some of your settings (for example, the My Toolboxes folder or your customized styles) by copying files from your ESRI_old folder to the newly re-generated ESRI folder. Once you have copied over anything you need to, you can safely delete the ESRI_old folder.