For ArcMap users

Most of the functionality in ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcGlobe, and ArcScene is available in ArcGIS Pro but is accessed differently. This topic provides an overview of ArcGIS Pro in relation to the other ArcGIS Desktop applications in the following areas:

  • User interface
  • Migrating existing work
  • Common workflows

This topic concludes with information about managing data and scripts when making the transition from ArcGIS Desktop to ArcGIS Pro.

You can find answers to questions often asked by ArcMap users in Frequently asked questions.

User interface

In ArcGIS Pro, you use ribbon tabs and panes to access functionality found on toolbars and dialog boxes in ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcGlobe, and ArcScene.

ArcGIS Pro user interface
The ArcGIS Pro user interface includes a ribbon, views, and panes.


The ribbon at the top of the user interface organizes commands on a series of tabs. These tabs are more context sensitive than the toolbars in ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcGlobe, and ArcScene, and may change based on the state of the application.


The Project tab on the ribbon provides access to application settings and other configurable properties. This is comparable to the settings on the Customize menu in ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcGlobe, and ArcScene.


Views, such as this map view, are the primary work areas in ArcGIS Pro. Views are comparable to the data and layout views in ArcMap and the 3D view in ArcGlobe and ArcScene.


The Contents pane displays items related to the active view. For example, when a map view is active, the Contents pane displays map layers. This is comparable to the way the table of contents displays the layers for a data frame in ArcMap or the Catalog tree displays connections in ArcCatalog.


A table view displays the attribute table for a layer. Projects can contain views of maps, scenes, tables, layouts, and other items. Many views can be opened at once, including multiple views of the same map.


The items in a project can be managed in the Catalog pane, which is similar to the Catalog window in ArcMap. You can also manage files in the catalog view, which is similar to ArcCatalog.

ArcGIS Pro user interface components

Migrate existing work

You can import documents and style files from ArcMap, ArcGlobe, and ArcScene into ArcGIS Pro.

Import a map document

You can import an ArcMap, ArcGlobe, or ArcScene document on the Insert tab of the ribbon.

The ArcGIS Pro ribbon showing the Import Map command and its ScreenTip

When you import a map, the map document opens as a map view in the ArcGIS Pro project. The layout from the map document is also imported. If the map document has multiple data frames, each data frame becomes a separate map. You can open the additional maps from the Maps container Maps in the Catalog pane.


If the map document doesn't have a layout, a default layout is created and appears in the Layouts container Layouts in the Catalog pane.

When you import a map, a blue dot appears on the Notifications button Notifications above the ribbon. Open the notification to see messages about the import process.

Notifications button with an available notification

Most of the time, imported maps look the same as the original map document. However, there may be subtle visual differences because ArcGIS Pro has a different drawing engine than ArcMap.


ArcMap cannot import ArcGIS Pro projects or open items in ArcGIS Pro file formats, such as map packages (.mpkx) and map files (.mapx).

Import styles

ArcMap, ArcGlobe, and ArcScene style files (.style) can't be used directly in ArcGIS Pro projects. However, many of these styles have been converted to the ArcGIS Pro style format (.stylx) and can be added from ArcGIS Online. You can also import a style from ArcMap, ArcGlobe, or ArcScene. Importing a style converts it from a .style file to a .stylx file.

Migrate Python scripts

ArcGIS Pro uses Python 3, so scripts that run in ArcMap need to be modified. For more information, see Python migration from 10.x to ArcGIS Pro and Migrating from arcpy.mapping to ArcGIS Pro. Application-level .NET add-ins written for ArcMap will not run in ArcGIS Pro.

Common workflows

Because of the different user interface, common tasks you perform in ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcGlobe, and ArcScene are accomplished differently in ArcGIS Pro.

Navigate maps

In ArcGIS Pro, map navigation tools are located on the Map tab of the ribbon. These tools are similar to those on the Tools toolbar in ArcMap, ArcGlobe, and ArcScene.

Map tab on the ribbon with the Explore tool selected

In ArcMap, tools such as Pan, Zoom, Identify, and HTML Pop-up are used for navigation and data exploration. In ArcGIS Pro, the functionality of these tools is combined in the Explore tool Explore Tool. When the Explore tool is active, which it is by default, you can use mouse buttons to navigate 2D maps and 3D scenes.

Identify features

Unlike ArcMap, ArcGIS Pro doesn't have an Identify tool. To identify a feature on a map, make sure the Explore tool Explore Tool is active, and click the feature to open its pop-up. Click the drop-down arrow on the Explore tool to identify features in different layers of interest.

A feature pop-up and Explore tool drop-down settings
Left: Pop-ups provide information about features. Right: You can click the drop-down arrow on the Explore tool to choose which map layers display pop-ups.

Manage data

In ArcGIS Pro, you access resources such as folders, databases, and servers by adding connections on the Insert tab on the ribbon. This is similar to adding connections in ArcCatalog or in the Catalog window in ArcMap.

Connections in ArcGIS Pro are specific to the project to which they are added. You can use project favorites to add frequently used connections to new projects.

Insert tab on the ribbon with the Add Folder Connection button selected

Common data management tasks such as copying, moving, and deleting items are performed in the Catalog pane or a catalog view. The Catalog pane is comparable to the Catalog window in ArcMap; a catalog view is similar to ArcCatalog, although it's not a stand-alone application.

Edit data

In ArcMap, you start an edit session to begin editing. In ArcGIS Pro, editing is enabled by default. Editing tools are on the Edit tab of the ribbon when a map view is active. If you prefer an experience similar to ArcMap edit sessions, you can configure ArcGIS Pro to start and stop editing with specific commands.

Commands on the Edit tab of the ribbon


Undo or redo edits on the Quick Access Toolbar.


Save or discard edits. If enabled, the Edit button also appears in this group.


Enable map topology.


Set editing options.


Enable snapping.


Create, modify, or delete features.


Select features for editing.


Inspect and edit feature attributes.

ArcGIS Pro Edit tab commands

View and edit metadata

Metadata in ArcGIS format can be viewed and edited in ArcGIS Pro. You don't need to upgrade or import metadata that is in ArcGIS format. ArcGIS Pro supports the same metadata styles as ArcCatalog and ArcMap. In ArcGIS Pro, the default metadata style is Item Description.

Metadata for datasets and other items such as maps, layouts, and toolboxes is displayed in the details panel of a catalog view. Viewing metadata in ArcGIS Pro is similar to viewing it in ArcCatalog on the Descripton tab.

A catalog view showing feature class metadata
Item metadata is displayed in the details panel of a catalog view.

Metadata is edited in a metadata view. The experience is similar to editing metadata in ArcCatalog.

A metadata view

Analyze data with geoprocessing tools

In ArcGIS Pro, you access geoprocessing tools from the Analysis tab on the ribbon.

Analysis tab on the ribbon with the Tools command outlined

Clicking the Tools button Tools opens the Geoprocessing pane. This is similar to clicking the ArcToolbox button in ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcGlobe, or ArcScene to open the ArcToolbox window.

In the Geoprocessing pane, system toolboxes are displayed on the Toolboxes tab. You also search for tools and run them in this pane. Unlike ArcMap, there isn't a stand-alone Search window in ArcGIS Pro.

Geoprocessing pane with the Toolboxes tab selected

Some commonly used geoprocessing tools open in a floating window when you access them from tools or context menus in the user interface.

Select By Location tool in a floating window
The Select By Location tool opens in a floating window.

ArcMap tools, models, and scripts can be used in ArcGIS Pro but may need to be modified. Run the Analyze Tools For Pro geoprocessing tool to check the compatibility of a script or toolbox.

View and modify tables

To open a layer attribute table, right-click a map layer in the Contents pane and click Attribute Table Open Table. This is similar to opening an attribute table in the ArcMap table of contents.

When a table opens, the Table tab appears on the ribbon with several tools.

The contextual Table tab on the ribbon

Common tools are also accessible from the table view.

A layer attribute table

The default editing behavior allows you to edit a table's attribute values by typing directly in table cells. You don't need to start an edit session. You can also add or delete table rows. After making edits, save or discard your edits on the Edit tab on the ribbon.

To change field properties, you edit the fields view of the table. The fields view is a tabular layout of the table's fields. Each row represents a field and each column represents a field property.

Fields view of an attribute table
The fields view of a table allows you to change field properties.

Access and share portal content

To access portal items from ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise, click the Portal tab in the Catalog pane and choose a repository such as My Organization My Organization or ArcGIS Online ArcGIS Online.

Catalog pane showing search results from ArcGIS Online
A search for endangered species in ArcGIS Online returns items that can be added to a map.

To share web maps, web layers, and other items to your portal, click the Share tab on the ribbon. ArcGIS Pro provides a more seamless and integrated sharing experience than the Service Editor wizard in ArcMap.

Manage data and Python scripts

ArcGIS Pro is built with newer technology than ArcMap. Although that makes ArcGIS Pro more capable, it also creates some incompatibilities. You can avoid compatibility issues, especially recurring ones, if you and the people you collaborate with fully migrate to ArcGIS Pro at the same time to avoid switching between ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap.


Migrating to ArcGIS Pro is generally straightforward. Importing an ArcMap map document (.mxd) or map package (.mpk) converts most of the content to files that are supported in ArcGIS Pro. Some areas of ArcGIS Desktop data and functionality, however, are not supported in ArcGIS Pro because they became obsolete or were replaced with newer, better counterparts. Migrating from datasets that aren't supported in ArcGIS Pro require specific workflows. For example, geometric networks in ArcGIS Desktop are replaced with trace networks in ArcGIS Pro, and steps and a tool are provided to convert geometric networks.

Geodatabase datasets generally work in both ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro. However, some data that you use in ArcMap may not be used again in ArcMap after it has been upgraded in ArcGIS Pro or modified with new ArcGIS Pro functionality, such as attribute rules and contingent values. This occurs, for example, when using the Upgrade Dataset tool with the following datasets:

  • Annotation
  • Dimension

Python scripts

Special considerations need to be made when migrating Python scripts used in ArcGIS Desktop to ArcGIS Pro. You can use the Analyze Tools For Pro tool to assess Python scripts for migration.

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