Run a model

After building a model and checking that all processes are valid, the model is ready to run. You can run a model step by step or in its entirety in ModelBuilder or as a geoprocessing tool from the Geoprocessing pane.

Run a model in ModelBuilder

Running a model in ModelBuilder means that you open the model for editing and run it in the ModelBuilder window. You can run a single tool, a sequence of tools, or the entire model.

  • Run a single tool—Running a single tool allows you to run one tool at a time, step by step through the model. Right-click the tool and select Run.
  • Run a sequence of tools—Running a tool that has dependencies on other tools runs all processes up to the tool (earlier ready-to-run processes in the chain also run; later processes in the chain do not run). Right-click the tool and select Run.
  • Run the entire model—When you click the Run button Run on the ModelBuilder tab, all ready-to-run tools execute in sequence. If some tools have already run, they do not execute again; the model executes from the first tool that has not yet run.

    Alternatively, you can right-click anywhere in the model and select Run.

Model running

If you attempt to run an individual model process that is not ready to run (invalid), a warning message appears stating that the process is not ready to run. If you attempt to run the entire model and it contains processes that are not ready to run, the ready-to-run processes run in sequence and processes that are not ready do not run.

The tool turns red when the process is running and turns back to yellow with a drop shadow after it has successfully executed. The tool remains red if it fails. To view error messages, right-click the tool that failed and select Messages.


Tools that run in ModelBuilder are not saved to your project's geoprocessing history.

Add To Display

When running a model in the ModelBuilder window, you can add output datasets to a map by right-clicking an output data variable and selecting Add To Display. If the tool has already been run, the data is added to the map. If the tool has not yet been run, the data is added to the map after the tool executes. For easier management of the layers, the output is added under a dedicated ModelBuilder group layer in the Contents pane. The layer name includes both the ModelBuilder variable name and the value of the variable.

Add To Display

To disable the adding of outputs to a ModelBuilder group layer, uncheck the Add output to model group layer option.

Run a model as a geoprocessing tool

Models are saved as geoprocessing tools in a toolbox. Like any other geoprocessing tool, you can open and run a model tool in the Geoprocessing pane. Locate the toolbox where the model is saved and double-click or right-click and select Open.

Variables that are set as model parameters in ModelBuilder display on the tool dialog box, and you can specify input and output datasets and values. The tool parameter label is the same as the name of the model variable, and the default value in the parameter is the same value as the model variable. The order of the tool parameters as well as parameter properties such as filters, dependencies, and categories can be controlled in the model properties.


After the model tool runs, only model outputs set as model parameters are added to the map.


An entry for the model tool is added to the geoprocessing history. The individual tools run in the model tool are not added to the geoprocessing history.

Learn more about running geoprocessing tools