Save a project

It is a good practice to save your changes periodically while you work. Save changes to your project as follows:

  • Click the Save button on the Quick Access toolbar at the top of the app.
  • Press Ctrl+S.
  • Click the Project tab on the ribbon and click Save.

If you created a project with a template or opened an existing project, information stored in the project file (.aprx) will be updated when the project is saved. This information includes the following:

  • Items stored in the project such as maps, layouts, tasks, charts, geoprocessing history, and animations
  • Connections to items stored outside the project such as folders, databases, servers, toolboxes, locators, and custom styles
  • A list of the system styles available in the project
  • Which views are open, and which view is the active view
  • Your favorite geoprocessing tools and raster functions for the project

Saving the project does not require you to save spatial data edits, new fields for a table, or ModelBuilder changes that are in progress. Each of these environments has its own methods for saving changes and are disconnected from saving changes to the project.

If you have been working with a read-only project, the Save Project As dialog box appears when you try to save your changes. Provide a name for the new project file (.aprx) that will be created, and specify a writable location. The new project file will continue to reference the same default geodatabase and default toolbox as the original read-only project. If the original project was read-only because it was opened from a read-only network share, the default geodatabase and default toolbox are likely stored in the same location and are also read-only; operations requiring write access to those items may not succeed.

If you started working without a template, the Save Project As dialog box appears when you try to save your changes. Instead of browsing to a location where you will store a new project file, you will browse to a location in which a folder will be created. A folder is always created for projects created without a template, even if your settings specify not to create a folder for projects created with a template. The saved project's folder will contain the new project file (.aprx), the default geodatabase and default toolbox if they were created for the unsaved project, and any additional items created in or saved to the unsaved project's home folder. Any edits to data stored in the project's home folder will be saved. The new project file will have the same name as the new folder.


Projects and project templates (.aprx, .ppkx, and .aptx files) saved with any version of ArcGIS Pro 1.x can be opened and used by both ArcGIS Pro 1.x and 2.x. However, projects and project templates saved using ArcGIS Pro 2.x cannot be opened by ArcGIS Pro 1.x. You cannot save a copy of an ArcGIS Pro 2.x project that can be opened with any 1.x version of ArcGIS Pro. If a project is saved with a recent version of ArcGIS Pro, such as 2.3, it can be opened with previous versions of ArcGIS Pro 2.x, such as 2.0, but the project will be downgraded in a manner appropriate for the previous version.

If the current project was originally created with ArcGIS Pro 1.x, a warning appears before changes are saved. If you proceed, the version of the project will be changed to 2.x, and ArcGIS Pro 1.x will not be able to open it. If the project is shared, consider saving a copy of the project that is specific to ArcGIS Pro 2.x using Save As, as described below.

Save a copy of the current project file with a new name

You can save a copy of the current project file (.aprx) with a new file name or in a new location using Save As. For example, you might do this to provide an existing project with a new name, or to quickly create a project that uses many of the same resources.

The new project has a copy of all information in the original project file. None of the external items connected to the project are copied or changed. The new project file references the same external items in their original locations as the original project file, including its default geodatabase and default toolbox.

  1. If there are any pending changes that should be saved to the current project, click Save.
  2. Click the Project tab on the ribbon.
  3. Click Save As.

    The Save Project As dialog box appears.

  4. Browse to the location on a local or network computer where you want to save a copy of the current project file.
  5. Type a different name for the new project.
  6. Click Save.

    A project file is created with the name provided at the specified location. The current project closes and the new project opens.


    If the original project file was saved on your local computer and you placed the new copy of the project file in a shared network location, others who open the new project file on a different computer will not be able to access any items stored on your local computer; those connections in the Catalog pane and any map layers referencing local datasets will be broken. To share your project, create a project package (.ppkx) instead.

Back up the project

You can automatically back up your open project at an interval specified in minutes. The backup process does not interrupt your work or slow down the performance of ArcGIS Pro. You can continue to save the project manually whenever you want. If ArcGIS Pro shuts down unexpectedly, the backup project may contain some or all of your unsaved changes. If so, you will be prompted to recover the project the next time you open it.

The backup is a copy of the project file (.aprx) with the same name as the project. The backup project stores changes that can be saved by an ordinary project save (the type of save that occurs when you click the Save button Save on the Quick Access Toolbar). The backup project does not store changes that must be saved separately, such as spatial data edits, changes to table field properties, and edits to geoprocessing models. Also, any save operations that are triggered by an ordinary project save, such as saving spatial data edits, are not triggered when a project backup is created. Files other than the project file, such as the default geodatabase and default toolbox, are not backed up.

The backup project is stored in a folder named .backups in the project home folder. Each backup overwrites the previous one: only one backup project exists at a given time. You can view the time stamp of the current backup project in Windows File Explorer. When you exit ArcGIS Pro normally, after manually saving or discarding changes, the backup project is automatically deleted.

Your backup settings apply to all projects. By default, projects are backed up automatically every five minutes. Follow the steps below to turn backups off or on, or to change the backup interval.

  1. Open the ArcGIS Pro Settings page:
    • From the ArcGIS Pro start page, click Settings in the lower left corner.
    • From an open project, click the Project tab on the ribbon.
  2. In the list on the left, click Options.
  3. On the Options dialog box, under Application, click General.
  4. Under Project Recovery, indicate whether project backups should be created while you work.
    • Check Create a backup when the project has unsaved changes to always create backups while you work on a project.
    • Uncheck Create a backup when the project has unsaved changes to never create backups.
  5. Optionally, change the time interval.
  6. Click OK.

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