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The on-screen navigator

The on-screen navigator exposes many camera navigation commands in a single control in the lower left of a view. Using the navigator is optional but provides quick access to controls that help refine camera movements when moving through your maps and scenes. The navigator has two modes: a smaller display mode providing a north indicator and pan function, and a full-control display state for raising and lowering the camera, looking around, zooming, and rotating. The control appears by default in 3D but not in 2D; however, you can set preferences for when maps and scenes are opened, if you want the control to appear at all, and in which display mode.

Using the navigator, you will discover which level of control works best to suit your needs. Certain types of GIS content can be difficult to navigate, for example, tight spaces within building interiors, underground data, or through lidar. The navigator is a useful option when well-defined control is needed for camera movements. The navigator is resizable and touch-screen compatible to help you pan, zoom, rotate, and tilt, or if you just need to get back to facing north.

Below is a short video introducing how to access and use the navigator as well as set preferences on how the control appears.

Play Video

Access the navigator

On the View tab, in the Navigation group, you can show or hide the navigator for any map, scene, or layout view.

  1. Open a new view by inserting a new map or scene or importing an existing package, file, or document.
  2. For 2D views, click the View tab and click the Navigator button Navigator. Optionally, right-click within the view to access the navigator from the context menu.
  3. For 3D views, the navigator appears by default in the lower left corner of the view. Click Navigator from the View tab, or use the scene's context menu by right-clicking in the view to switch between showing or hiding the navigator.
  4. On the navigator, click the left topmost button to expand or reduce the level of control. You can switch between Show Heading and Show Full Control.

    Full-control display in 3D scenes will show slightly more capabilities than in 2D maps. This is to allow for rotation in x, y, and z (tilt), looking around with the camera, and raising and lowering the camera.

Heading mode

The smaller display state of the on-screen navigator shows the heading as you pan around using the ring. Once the panning ring changes color, you can begin panning by dragging in any direction. The closer you are to the center of the navigator, the slower the pan speed. A semitransparent arrow follows your pointer as you move away from the ring to help indicate direction. Click the North button to reset the view back to facing north.

Navigator in heading mode

Full-control mode

The full-control navigator has a larger set of functions for manipulating the camera. Hover the pointer over the controls to highlight controls you can interact with. The precise camera control gives you a more intuitive navigation experience if you are new to navigating in 3D. Additionally, some GIS data is difficult to navigate, and your workflow might require navigating and editing at the same time. You can achieve this using the navigator and still have access to the pointer for editing feature geometry, since the navigator is touch compatible for touch screen devices.

Full-control navigator in 2D

Full-control navigator in 2D

Full-control navigator in 3D

Full-control navigator in 3D

Navigator control optionDescription

North indicator

Rotates to indicate north direction. Click the arrow to return the view to face north.

Switch navigator mode

Change the display view of the navigator to Heading mode (pan and north indicator only), or Full Control mode.

Move up/Move down

Specific to 3D, move the camera vertically higher or lower. The camera's x,y and heading are maintained.

Resize the navigator

Drag to resize the navigator. Larger sizes may be more suitable for touch screen use. The default size is a customizable property when the navigator opens for new maps and scenes.

Zoom forward/Zoom backward

Continuously zoom in closer or farther away from the view. In 3D the camera's view angle is maintained.

Face cardinal direction

The arrows are clickable on the outer ring. Click to rotate the view to face the specific cardinal direction (N/S/E/W).

Pan (Outer ring)

Continuously pan the camera horizontally in 2D and 3D. The ring is clickable for short pan movements, or holding down produces a continuous pan across the view following the direction of the pointer. The speed of the camera is dependent on the distance from the ring. Hovering near the center of the navigator slows down the pan speed.

Rotate around target (x,y)—Handle on inner ring

Rotate the camera around the center target point. Click and hold to rotate in a motion similar to a dial.

Rotate around target (x,y,z)—Inner ring

Specific to 3D, rotation in x,y,z allows the camera to rotate and tilt. The north arrow on the outer ring rotates to act as a directional guide for visual feedback. Click the ring and drag left and right to rotate in x,y around the center target position. Move the ring up or down to tilt the camera. Requires the target to be either the ground or a feature.


If no ground or feature is available for the target, for example, when looking at the sky, then the camera rotation switches to camera look around to move the target to a workable target location.

Look around

The camera remains stationary but is able to look in all directions. This is the same behavior as using the B key shortcut with the Explore tool Explore Tool. When using the free look around, the other rings and north indicator update at the same time to keep the view direction current.

Navigator options

By default, the navigator is hidden from 2D views and shown in its heading state in 3D views. You can set your navigation preferences for new maps or scenes when they open, whether you want the navigator to show or not, in which mode, and if you prefer it at a different scale.

  1. Click the Project tab and click the Options tab.
  2. On the Options dialog box, click the Navigation tab.
  3. On the Navigation page, expand the On-Screen Navigator section.
  4. Click the Show Navigator when opening 2D views drop-down menu and choose None, Heading, or Full Control. This configures how and whether you want 2D maps to show the navigator every time a new map is opened.
  5. Click the Show Navigator when opening 3D views drop-down menu and choose None, Heading, or Full Control. This configures how and whether you want 3D scenes to show the navigator every time a new scene is opened.
  6. Optionally, provide a new value to adjust the default size of the navigator as it appears each time in a new view.

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