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Create a locator

One of the first processes in geocoding is creating a locator. This process always begins with opening the Geoprocessing pane by clicking the Tools button Tools on the Analysis tab at the top of your ArcGIS Pro workspace. Locators that you create are stored in a file folder and are added into your project automatically. You can also add a locator that you create into any future projects that you create.


Locators cannot be stored in or accessed from geodatabases in ArcGIS Pro. Locators are stored in or accessed from file folders, or they can be geocoding services from a server connection.

The following steps describe how to create a locator using the Create Address Locator geoprocessing tool:

  1. On the Analysis tab, click the Tools button Tools to open the Geoprocessing pane.

    The Geoprocessing pane opens.

  2. Select the Create Address Locator tool.
    1. In the Geoprocessing pane, click the Toolboxes tab.
    2. Click Geocoding Tools from the list of geoprocessing toolboxes.
    3. Click the Create Address Locator tool from the list of geocoding tools.

      Create Address Locator tool

  3. Once the Create Address Locator tool opens in the Geoprocessing pane, click the Address Locator Style drop-down list, and choose the locator style that you want to base your locator on.
  4. Click the Browse button Browse next to the Reference Data text box. The Reference Data dialog box appears.
  5. Browse to the reference data you want to use in the locator, and click Open.
  6. Repeat the process of adding data to the Reference Data text boxes (more appear as needed) until all the reference data you want to include in the locator shows.
  7. For each row of Reference Data text boxes that you complete, indicate the role that the reference data plays in the locator by choosing Primary Table, Alternate City Name Table, Alternate Name Table, or Alias Table in the corresponding Role drop-down menu.

    A primary table is a feature class containing the geometry and address attributes of the features that addresses are geocoded against. The locator style defines what type of geometry and address attributes are supported. An alternate city name table contains the alternate names, also known as city name aliases to the primary names of the features. An alternate name table contains the alternate names, also known as street name aliases, to the primary names of the features. An alias table contains common names or location names, such as Memorial Hospital or Canyon High School, in place of street addresses. Both alternate name tables and alias tables are optional.

    A list of fields specific to the role of the data appears in the Field Map portion of the tool. The required fields are prefixed with an asterisk (*). The fields named Left Additional Field and Right Additional Field in the Field Name column are optional fields and are used for informational purposes only; that is, the locator does not use these fields for searching or matching. The fields are carried over from the reference data to the resulting candidates and output feature classes for your benefit. For example, if you want the locator to return a property owner field with other address attributes in the matched candidate, you can map the Left Additional Field or Right Additional Field to a PropertyOwner field from your reference feature class.


    Reference data that participates in a join is not supported when creating a locator. The joined data must be a permanent part of the reference data feature class before it can be used to build the locator. Use the Feature Class to Feature Class or Copy Features tool to create a new feature class that contains the joined data.


    When creating an address locator with reference data that contains millions of features, it is necessary to have at least 3 to 4 times the size of the data in free disk space on the c:\ drive. Files used to build the locator are written to the temp directory before the locator is copied to the output location. If you do not have enough disk space, the tool will fail after running for several hours.

  8. If a field is not automatically mapped, click the drop-down arrow in the Alias Name column and choose the proper field name.
  9. An output file name and destination are automatically selected. To change these values, click the Browse button Browse next to the Output Address Locator text box. The Output Address Locator dialog box appears.
  10. Specify where to store the locator (the save location must be in a file folder), name it, and click Save.

    If you need some helpful tips and reminders about any of the input categories on this tool, click any of the Information icons Information displayed next to the input categories for additional information.

  11. If you want auto-complete functionality enabled when the address locator publishes as a geocode service, check the Enable suggestions check box.

    As a result of checking this check box, the capability for suggestions will be built into the locator. Suggestions built on custom locators are currently only supported for locators published to ArcGIS Server. For suggestions to be used in ArcGIS Pro, the locator must be published to ArcGIS Server and added to your project through a server connection, or from a locator item published to a federated server on your portal. The Locate pane also displays search suggestions generated from the ArcGIS Online World Geocoding Service.


    If you have an existing locator and want to enable suggestions for it, you must use your reference data to build the locator again with suggestions enabled. Because the suggestions capability is part of the build process of a locator, there is no way to add suggestions capability to an existing locator without rebuilding it.


    For performance reasons, house number (or unit number in the case of US Address - Single House Subaddress style) is not used in suggestions capability. The implications of this are that, while house numbers are displayed in generated suggestions, they are not validated until a geocoding request is sent. Therefore, if the house number typed by the user does not exist, it will be displayed in suggestions but will not be returned from geocoding results. A best practice when creating a custom locator using suggestions is to create a composite locator with at least a street address or point address locator and a Street Name locator. Doing so will ensure that if the house number doesn't exist in the Street Address or Point Address locator, you'll get a fallback match to Street Name. For more information on creating a composite locator, see Create a composite locator.

  12. Click Run Run.

    Create Address Locator tool

When the process finishes, the locator is added to the Locators folder in the Catalog pane. You can also find your locator in the save location you previously specified. You can add your newly created locator to a new or existing project.


Locators can be grouped to become a composite locator. This allows addresses to be matched against multiple locators to find the best matches.

Learn more about creating a composite locator

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