Connect to a GNSS device

Global positioning devices (such as a GNSS or GPS device) allow you to determine your position on Earth within several meters or less. To display and record positions reported by a device in ArcGIS Pro, the device must be connected to the application.

To connect the device to ArcGIS Pro, it must have an input/output (I/O) interface and support the output of National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) sentences. You may need a Bluetooth connection or GNSS-compatible cable to connect the device to a computer. Refer to the device's documentation or contact the manufacturer if uncertain whether the device meets these requirements.

Once the GNSS device is connected, several device location tools become available for use in maps and scenes. You can:

Set the active GNSS connection

Multiple GNSS devices can be connected to a machine, and ArcGIS Pro automatically recognizes these devices. However, only one device in can be set as the active connection. To define which device is active, complete the following steps:

  1. Turn on your device, and set it nearby.
  2. Open ArcGIS Pro, if it is not already open. On the start page, click Settings.
  3. In the list on the left, click Options.
  4. In the Options dialog box, click the Device Location tab.
  5. By default, there is no active connection if it is the first time you are attempting to connect a device. Under Choose the active GNSS device, click the drop-down to view a list of valid devices.
  6. Choose a device from the drop-down list. ArcGIS Pro attempts to establish the connection automatically.
    • A green check mark Enable over the device icon—whether by Bluetooth Bluetooth Device, cable USB Device, or other means of connection Generic Device— indicates the device is successfully connected to the application and ready for use.
    • A red mark Disable indicates there is no device selected or the connection is lost. If the device does not automatically connect, you may need to manually connect to the device.
  7. Click OK to close the Options window. This saves the connection, sets the connection as active, and becomes the default active connection when new projects are opened.


A COM port can only be listened to by a single application. ArcGIS Pro cannot establish a connection with the device if it is currently connected with another application.

If the device is not listed, make sure the GNSS receiver is not connected to another application or machine.

Configure a GNSS device connection

After a GNSS device is chosen from the list of valid devices, you can click the connection's Properties button to further configure the device. Here you can set its baud rate, data bits, parity, and stop bits values. Refer to your GNSS device's documentation for the correct settings.

  1. On the View tab, in the Device Location group, click the Device Location Options dialog box launcher Launcher.
  2. Under the active device drop-down, click the Properties button.
  3. In the Configure GNSS Device window:
    • The active communications port and coordinate system used by the receiver are listed. Most devices provide this information by default, but you can click Select coordinate system Select Coordinate System to manually choose the GNSS device's spatial reference.
    • The Antenna height (in meters) is set to zero by default, but can be manually set to account for situations where the device and its antenna are at different heights. All data related to altitude and elevation subtracts this value to account for the height of the antenna.
    • Under Advanced, the listed options (Baud rate, Data bits, parity, Stop bits) are custom settings related to the serial connection protocol. These parameters are set automatically and should only be changed to accommodate changes to your connection. Refer to your device and its documentation for the appropriate values.
  4. Optionally click Test Connection to ensure the connection is consistent, especially after modifying any of the above settings.
  5. Click OK to apply the settings.

In the Device Location options dialog window, you can also set the Accuracy threshold value. Depending on the project you are working on, it may be required for the recorded location to be very precise. You can set this threshold setting to the nearest centimeter.

Manually connect to a GNSS device

It is not required to exit ArcGIS Pro to check the status of the connection to the operating system. If the device is connected to the machine but does not show up in the device list, you can manually add the device to the list.

In the Options window, on the Device Location tab, click the active GNSS device drop-down and choose Add a GNSS device.

This opens the Configure GNSS Device window, where you can manually enter the values according to your device's recommended settings.

USB and Bluetooth devices

ArcGIS Pro requires a communications (COM) port connection. Some device manufacturers provide drivers to map the connection to a virtual COM port that then can be used. Bluetooth devices can also be configured to use a virtual COM port.

In the Options window, on the Device Location tab, click the active GNSS device drop-down and choose Windows devices settings. This opens your operating system's device connection settings window. Here, you may review your system's Bluetooth settings and make any necessary adjustments.

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