Selection layers

You can create new layers from a subset of features from an existing layer by selecting them and creating a selection layer. This adds a new layer in the map or scene with the same data source, but referencing only the features that were selected. Selection layers are good to use in workflows where you want to select subsets without losing the logic of the original selection set.


The selection layer is only useful as a temporary working dataset, for example, as an input into a geoprocessing model. It makes a list of the FeatureIDs (FIDs) or ObjectIDs (OIDs) of the selected features. These are invalidated when the original data source is updated or changed.

Make a selection layer from selected features

  1. Select features for a layer using any selection method and ensure the layer is highlighted in the Contents pane.
  2. Under the Feature Layer tab, on the Data tab, in the Selection group, click Layer from Selection Layer From Selection.

    A new layer is added to the map or scene. The layer name is the name of the original layer, appended by the word selection.


You can also make a selection layer from the Contents pane. Right-click the layer, click Selection, and click Make Layer From Selected Features Make Layer From Selected Features.

Clear or discard selection layers

Once the selection layer is no longer needed, the selection definition can be removed and the layer can be restored to its original, full list of features.

  1. Right-click the selection layer in the Contents pane and click Properties to open the Layer Properties dialog box.
  2. Click the Selection tab and check the Clear selected features to access all features in the source data check box.
  3. Click OK to remove the selection definition and reveal all features.

Alternatively, if the original layer is still in the map, you can right-click the selection layer in the Contents pane and click Remove to discard the layer entirely. The original layer is unaffected.