Introducing ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Pro is a ribbon-based application. Many commands are available from the ribbon at the top of the ArcGIS Pro window; more advanced or specialized functionality is found on panes (dockable windows) that can be opened as needed.

ArcGIS Pro allows you to store multiple items, such as maps, layouts, tables, and charts, in a single project and work with them as needed. The application also responds contextually to your work. Tabs on the ribbon change depending on the type of item you're working with.


Play Video

  • Video length: 5:35
  • This video was created with ArcGIS Pro 2.8.

In this tutorial, you'll explore the main components of the ArcGIS Pro user interface—the ribbon, views, and panes—and their interactions.

  • Estimated time: 25 minutes
  • Software requirements: ArcGIS Pro Basic

The quick-start tutorials are updated at each software release. For the best experience, use an online help version that matches your software version.

Open the project

You'll explore an ArcGIS Pro project containing 2D and 3D maps of Wellington, New Zealand.

  1. Start ArcGIS Pro. If necessary, in the upper right corner, click Sign in, type your username and password and click Sign in.

    In the center of the start page, system templates for creating projects are displayed. To the right of the recent projects list, you can start a project from your own templates. Below the system templates, you can open a saved project. (You may not have any recent templates or recent projects.)

  2. On the start page, next to the list of recent projects, click Open another project.

    If you already have a project open, click the Project tab on the ribbon. In the list of side tabs, click Open. On the Open page, click Open another project Open another project at the top of the page.

  3. On the Open Project dialog box, under Portal Portal, click ArcGIS Online ArcGIS Online.

    If you are signed in to ArcGIS Enterprise ArcGIS Enterprise, you must set your active portal to ArcGIS Online to access the tutorial data. If you can't do this, you can download the data from a browser.

  4. Locate the search box at the top of the dialog box.
  5. Widen the search box by hovering between Refresh Refresh and Sort Sort and drag.

    Search box


    You can also widen the dialog box to widen the search box.

  6. In the Search box, type Introducing ArcGIS Pro and press the Enter key.
  7. If necessary, in the list of search results, click Introducing ArcGIS Pro to select the project package.

    If there is more than one project package with this name, select the package with the Authoritative badge Authoritative. In the Owner column, the owner name is ArcGISProTutorials. If you don't get any results, see No search results are returned.

  8. Click OK.

    When the project opens, you see a map of Wellington, New Zealand. The window containing the map is a map view. The colored tab at the top of the map view indicates that the view is active. The name of the view is Wellington City.

    There are three other open views in the project: the Central Wellington map Map View, the Central Wellington_3D local scene Local, and the Central Wellington Layout Layout.

    ArcGIS Pro user interface

Use tools on the ribbon

Above the map view is the ribbon. The ribbon has a set of core tabs—Map, Insert, Analysis, View, Edit, Imagery, Share, and Help—that are always present when a map view is active. Each tab has its own set of tools, organized in groups. The Map tab has tools for interacting with the map. On the Map tab, the Explore tool Explore Tool is selected in the Navigate group.

To get started, you'll use tools in the Navigate group. The Explore tool Explore Tool allows you to move around the map and to read information about map features of interest.

ArcGIS Pro ribbon
  1. With the Explore tool Explore Tool selected on the ribbon, drag the map to a different location.

    If you go too far, it may be hard to find your way back. You can use a bookmark to return to your starting place.


    You can roam around the map by pressing the Q key on the keyboard while moving the pointer in the direction you want to go. Press Q+Shift to decrease the roam speed; press Q+Ctrl to increase the speed.

  2. On the ribbon, on the Map tab, in the Navigate group, click Bookmarks Bookmarks. Under Wellington City Bookmarks, click Wellington.

    The map returns to its original extent.

  3. On the map, click inside the city boundary for Wellington to learn more about the feature.

    Pop-up with information about Wellington

    The city boundary flashes and the Pop-up pane appears with information about the city's population.

    In addition to the Pop-up pane, you may see a Contents pane, a Catalog pane, or both. Panes are windows that help you manage views and projects or that give you access to specific functionality.

    Catalog pane and Contents pane

    The Contents pane lists items in the active view, such as layers in a map or layout elements in a layout. The Catalog pane lists items that belong to the project, such as databases, toolboxes, and folder connections. The Catalog pane also provides access to items on your computer and portal items, such as web layers.

    It's okay if you don't see these two panes. Pane states are independent of the project. If you closed a pane in your last ArcGIS Pro session, it is still closed when you start a new session, no matter which project you open. If you arranged your panes in certain positions on the user interface in your last session, they are still arranged that way when you start your next session.

Open and dock panes

As you work, you'll often open and close panes that you need for specific tasks. You may also want to reposition panes or minimize them to make room for maps and other views.

  1. On the ribbon, click the View tab. In the Windows group, click Reset Panes Reset Panes and click Reset Panes for Mapping (Default).

    The Contents and Catalog panes are opened (if they were not open before). The Pop-up pane and any other open panes are closed.

    The two panes may be docked on opposite sides of the ArcGIS Pro window—the default arrangement—or one may be stacked on top of the other.

    Contents and Catalog panes in a stacked arrangement
    If the panes are stacked, they have tabs at the bottom that allow you to switch from one pane to the other.

  2. Drag the Catalog pane by its title bar over the map view.
    Docking targets

    As you drag the pane—represented by a blue shadow—docking targets appear in the center of the map view and at the edges of the application window. Each target represents an area where the pane can be positioned.

  3. Hover over a docking target.

    You can see where the pane will be docked if you drop it on that target.


    Side targets are better than top and bottom targets because the panes are vertically oriented.

  4. Drop the pane on a target.

    The pane displays in its new position. If the Catalog and Contents panes were stacked before, they remain stacked and move together.

  5. Drag the Catalog pane away from its new position and drop it anywhere on your screen that is not a docking target.

    The pane floats. You can resize it by dragging a corner or a side of the pane.

  6. If the Catalog and Contents panes are stacked, click the Catalog tab at the bottom of the Catalog pane and drag the pane by this tab to a new location.

    The panes are now separated.

  7. Drop the Contents pane on the left docking target. Drop the Catalog pane on the right docking target.

    Left and right docking targets

    The panes are now docked on opposite sides of the ArcGIS Pro window. By default, panes stay open as you work. You can autohide a pane so it doesn't take up space when you aren't using it.

  8. Click the Contents pane to make it active. In the upper right corner of the pane, click Auto-Hide Auto Hide.
    Contents pane in autohide state

    The pane is hidden along the edge of the ArcGIS Pro window in the area where the pane is docked.

  9. Click the hidden Contents pane to restore it.

    The pane stays open as long as you continue to work with it. When you make a view active or a different pane active, the Contents pane hides again.

  10. Click Auto-Hide Auto-Hide again so the pane stays open.

Explore views

The Wellington City map is one of four open views in the project. An ArcGIS Pro project can contain multiple maps, scenes (3D maps), and map layouts, as well as other views, such as tables and charts.

  1. Click the Central Wellington map view tab to make the view active.
    Central Wellington map view

    The map shows buildings in the central business district around Lambton Harbour.

  2. In the Contents pane, click the arrow next to the Buildings layer to expand the layer.

    The yellow and orange colors indicate the amount of solar radiation the buildings receive.

  3. Make the Central Wellington_3D scene view active.
    3D view of Central Wellington

    The same buildings are shown in a 3D display.

  4. On the ribbon, click the Map tab.
  5. In the Navigate group, click Bookmarks Bookmarks. Under Central Wellington_3D Bookmarks, click Jervois Quay.

    You see the buildings from a different perspective.

  6. Go to the View from Lambton Harbour bookmark to view the scene from another perspective.
  7. Make the Central Wellington Layout view active.
    Map layout

    The ribbon changes to show tabs and tools for working with layouts. The Map tab has been replaced by a Layout tab. The Edit tab is gone.

    The Contents pane lists the elements in the layout: its legend, map frames, text, and so on.

    Contents pane for layout view

    By default, the elements are listed in their top-to-bottom drawing order. You can use the graphic tabs at the top of the Contents pane to organize them in different ways.

  8. In the Contents pane, click the List By Element Type tab.
    List By Element Type

    The layout elements are now grouped by type instead of drawing order, making it easier to find the element you want to work with.

  9. On the Central Wellington Layout view tab, close the layout view.

    The view has been closed but still belongs to the project.

  10. In the Catalog pane, with the Project tab selected at the top of the pane, expand Layouts.
    Catalog pane with the Layouts node expanded
  11. Right-click Central Wellington Layout and click Open Open.

    The layout view opens. You can learn how to make a map layout like this one in the Make a layout tutorial.

  12. In the Catalog pane, expand Maps.

    The maps and scenes in the project are listed.


    To remove a map or layout permanently from a project, right-click the item in the Catalog pane and click Delete Delete.

Work with contextual tabs

Tabs on the ribbon change depending on the active view. Within a view, different contextual tabs become available depending on the layer or data you are working with.

  1. Make the Central Wellington map view active.
  2. In the Contents pane, click the Buildings layer to select it.
    Contents pane with Buildings layer selected

    The selected layer is highlighted in blue. Once it is selected, three contextual tabs appear on the ribbon. These tabs include tools specific to feature layers.

    Feature Layer contextual tab
  3. In the Contents pane, click Central Wellington, the name of the map.
    Contents pane with map item selected

    The contextual tabs disappear because no feature layer is selected.

  4. In the Contents pane, click the Parks layer to select it.
  5. On the ribbon, click the Data tab.

    The Data tab has tools for working with the attributes of the selected feature layer.

  6. On the Data tab, in the Table group, click Attribute Table Open Table.
    Attribute table for Parks layer

    A table view opens with the Parks layer attributes. Each park has a name and address. On the ribbon, the three contextual tabs are still present. In addition, the Table tab appears.

    The tab has tools for adding and deleting fields, changing field properties, calculating table values, and more. However, you don't need to make changes to the Parks table.

  7. Close the Parks table view.

    The Table tab is removed from the ribbon.

  8. On the ribbon, click the Feature Layer tab.

    On the Feature Layer tab, you can set a visibility range for a layer, adjust its transparency, and choose a symbology method. When you choose a symbology method, a new pane opens.

  9. In the Drawing group, click Symbology Symbology. (Click the button, not the drop-down arrow.)
    Symbology pane

    The Symbology pane appears.


    Some panes and views can be opened either from the ribbon or from a context menu. For example, you can open the Symbology pane by right-clicking a layer in the Contents pane and clicking Symbology Symbology.

  10. In the Symbology pane, next to Symbol, click the green symbol.

    The pane presents options for formatting polygon symbols. At the top of the pane are a Gallery tab and a Properties tab. On the Gallery tab, you can choose a predefined symbol. On the Properties tab, you can modify symbol properties, such as color and outline width.

  11. Click the Gallery tab if necessary.
  12. Next to the search box, click the All styles drop-down arrow and click Project styles.

    The Project styles setting includes the styles added by default to your ArcGIS Pro project, as well as any styles you add yourself. The All styles setting includes all system styles installed with ArcGIS Pro. Choosing Project styles narrows the scope of symbol searches.

  13. In the search box, type park and press the Enter key.

    In the ArcGIS 2D style, several park and cemetery symbols are found. You can hover over the symbols to get more information.

  14. Click a Park symbol to select it.
    Park symbol selected in the symbol gallery

    In the map view, the parks are drawn with the new symbol. You may prefer the original symbol.

    You can use the Quick Access Toolbar buttons to undo and redo actions.

    Quick Access Toolbar
  15. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click Undo Undo.

    The original green symbol for parks is restored.

  16. Close the Symbology pane.
  17. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click Save Project Save Project.

Switch to dark theme

You'll set ArcGIS Pro to dark theme, which gives the application a different look.

  1. On the ribbon, click the Project tab.

    The ArcGIS Pro settings page allows you to configure and customize the application.

  2. In the list on the left, click Options.
  3. On the Options dialog box, under Application, click the General tab. Expand Application Theme. Click the drop-down arrow and click Dark.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Exit and restart ArcGIS Pro.

    The application opens in dark theme.

  6. On the start page, under Recent Projects, click Introducing_ArcGIS_Pro to open the project.
  7. Make the Wellington City map view active. Continue to explore the project on your own.
    ArcGIS Pro with Dark theme setting

In this tutorial, you familiarized yourself with key components of the ArcGIS Pro user interface. You worked with panes, views, and the ribbon and practiced customizing the application layout and theme. Next, follow the Navigate maps and scenes tutorial to learn how to work with spatial data in 2D and 3D views.

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