Use a geoprocessing tool

Once you have found and opened a geoprocessing tool, use it by entering parameters and running the tool.

To get help for the open geoprocessing tool, hover over the Help button Help or click the button to open the tool help documentation page.


After the tool opens, you fill in the tool's parameters, which are a set of options or settings, such as the input data to process, output dataset, and other options that modify how the tool runs. Every geoprocessing tool has a unique set of parameters. You can get more information about each tool parameter by hovering over the information button Information next to each parameter.

Parameters can be required or optional.

  • Required parameters must be filled in for the tool to execute and are indicated by a red asterisk Red asterisk.
  • Optional parameters can be left blank or unmodified to use a default behavior.

Geoprocessing tools have both input and output parameters. Input parameters can reference data or be options that control what the tool does. There are a number of ways to specify the input data to be processed by the tool, including the following:

  • Select a layer from a list of map layers. If the layer has a selection, only the selected features will be processed. Likewise, if the layer has a definition query, time filter, or range filter, only the features included in the filter will be processed.
  • Browse to a dataset that is in a project database or connection using the browse button Browse.
  • Create input features interactively using the interactive input button Editing.
Input Features modes

For input parameters that are not data, you will typically only need to specify a number, check a box, or select an option from a list.

Some parameters require more interaction, such as multiple values, geographic extent, expression, or field map.

An output parameter is typically the location of a new dataset or resulting value to be created by the tool. For output dataset parameters, an output location and name are usually automatically selected for you, but you can change the path of the dataset or browse using the output browse button Browse. The output location that is automatically selected is based on your current or scratch workspace.

Reset parameter settings

To reset a tool to its default parameter state, open the Run menu at the bottom of the Geoprocessing pane and select Reset Parameters.


You can modify additional options that affect tool execution on the tool Environments tab. All environment settings are optional. Only the geoprocessing environments that apply to the specific open tool will be displayed on the Environments tab.

Environment options set from the tool Environments will only be applied to that specific execution of the tool. If you reopen the tool from geoprocessing history, the environment settings will be retained; otherwise, all environment settings will be the default. To set geoprocessing environments that should be applied to all geoprocessing performed in the project, set environments from the Environments window opened from Analysis > Geoprocessing > Environments.

Learn more about geoprocessing environment settings


The tool Environments tab may not display when a tool is opened in a floating window from a ribbon button or UI command. Set the project environments from the Environments window described above to apply environment settings when necessary.

Run a tool

Run a geoprocessing tool by clicking the Run button Run at the bottom of the Geoprocessing pane.

Schedule a tool

You can use the Run menu and select Schedule to run the tool at a later date and time and, optionally, with recurrence. All required parameters must be specified to schedule a tool.

Learn more about scheduling geoprocessing tools

Copy Python command

To copy a Python command snippet that you can use to run the tool in Python with the currently specified parameters and environments, open the Run menu and select Copy Python Command. The command is placed in the clipboard, from which it can be pasted into the Python window, a notebook, or other Python interface.


The tool does not need to have been previously run to copy the Python command. However, all required parameters must be specified to enable the Copy Python Command option.

Python commands can also be copied from geoprocessing history entries.

Progress and messages

When a tool is running, a progress bar is displayed to show completion percentage, and a cancel button is available to stop processing.

You can hover over the progress bar to display a pop-up window containing comprehensive information about the tool that is running, such as messages, execution time, and all tool settings. You can also click View Details to see the same detailed information in a detached window, or click Open History to open the project's geoprocessing history.

When the tool is finished running, any output layers will be added to the map and the progress bar will display an icon and message to indicate the tool status.

Check mark

The tool completed successfully.


The tool completed with warnings. Click View Details or hover over the status icon Warning to view the warning messages.


The tool failed. Click View Details or hover over the status icon Error to view the error messages.

When you are finished running a geoprocessing tool, click the Back button Back at the top of the Geoprocessing pane to return to the last page you viewed.

Execution threads

When you run a geoprocessing tool, it will typically execute in a background thread dedicated to geoprocessing. This enables the application and map to remain available for other tasks while the tool is running, which is especially important if you are running a tool that takes a long time to complete. There are several cases when a geoprocessing tool will not run in this geoprocessing thread, which causes the tool to run in the main application thread and lock the application for the duration of the tool runtime. In this situation, other tasks cannot be performed until the tool has completed. The following cases lock the application until the geoprocessing tool has completed:

  • Running a geoprocessing tool in the Python window.
  • Running a geoprocessing tool in an ArcGIS Pro add-in may or may not lock the application, depending on the methods and properties of tools set in the add-in.
  • Running a geoprocessing tool when there are pending edits.
  • Running a model interactively in ModelBuilder.
  • Running a geoprocessing tool from a floating window opened from a ribbon button or UI command may or may not lock the application, depending on the methods and properties of tools set by the button or command developer.

History and recent tools

When a geoprocessing tool is run from the Geoprocessing pane or the Python window, an entry is added to the project's geoprocessing history with details on when the tool was run, the settings that were used, whether the tool completed successfully, and any information, warning, or error messages.

The Favorites tab in the Geoprocessing pane also has a Recent section that lists tools you have recently run.

If one of the tools you recently ran is already a favorite, the tool will not be duplicated in the Recent section.
Tools that have been recently run display a status indication icon and a list of recent executions of the tool. You can hover over the entries in the list to see more details, and click to open the selected tool with the parameter settings that were previously used.

Recent geoprocessing tools

Open and run multiple tools

The Geoprocessing pane allows you to open multiple geoprocessing tools, see a list of the open tools, and switch between them. To open multiple tools, follow these steps:

  1. One geoprocessing tool must already be open to warrant opening a second tool.
  2. Click the add button Add in the upper right corner of the Geoprocessing pane to open a menu that lists all open geoprocessing tools.
  3. Select Open Another Tool.

    The Geoprocessing pane returns to the previous page and adds the name of the first opened tool to the list of open tools. All changes to the previous tool are saved and will be loaded when the tool is reopened from this menu.

  4. Search for or select another tool and open it.
  5. Click the add button Add in the upper right corner of the Geoprocessing pane to see the list of multiple open tools.

You can switch between all open tools without losing any progress, as the parameter and environment settings will be maintained as long as the tool remains in the open tool list.

You can run multiple tools, and they will be added to a queue of running tools that can be viewed in geoprocessing history. If you run a tool while another tool is already running, the second tool will be in a pending state until the first tool completes, at which point the next pending tool will run automatically.