How projects are indexed

The ArcGIS Pro search index is used to generate results when you search a project for content. Indexing is turned on by default.

Indexed content and locations

By default, the following items are indexed when stored on local disks. Local disks include your computer's hard drive and physically connected external hard drives.

  • Items stored in the project file (.aprx), such as maps, map layers, stand-alone tables, layouts, reports, and tasks
  • Item connections that are added to a project, such as connections to folders, databases, toolboxes, servers, and cloud stores
  • The contents of folder, database, and toolbox connections, such as shapefiles, geodatabase feature classes, and geoprocessing models

When you add a connection to a remote resource, such as a server or cloud store, you can find the connection by searching the project. You cannot find content stored on the resource by searching; however, when a connection is returned as a search result, you can browse its contents.

By default, network drives and enterprise geodatabases (.sde) that are added to projects are not indexed, but you can index these locations. If you save a project on a network drive, items stored in the project file are indexed, even when network locations are not indexed.

Items are not indexed if the item type can't be used in ArcGIS Pro. For example, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files are not indexed.

Content stored in Microsoft OneDrive is not indexed.


Cloud storage services, such as Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive, are not supported unless stated otherwise in the documentation about specific tools and functionality.

Learn more about ArcGIS Pro and cloud storage services

Indexed information

An item's file name, file type, and metadata content are indexed. By default, a search returns items if the search keyword appears in any of the following metadata fields:

  • Title
  • Tags
  • Summary (Purpose)
  • Description (Abstract)

You can use item field names to search the content of other metadata fields. You can also filter search results by modification date, item type, location, and map extent.


Not all items store ArcGIS metadata. Some items, such as locators and workflow (classic) connections, store metadata that is not indexed.

Project and resource indexes

The index is composed of two indexes, described below, both of which are used to generate search results. The index files are Lucene files that can only be read with a tool designed for that purpose. Ancillary files, such as the indexing configuration file, can be read with a text editor.

  • Project index—Each project has its own project index. This index keeps track of items stored in the project file, such as maps and layouts.
  • Resource index—This index is common to all projects. It keeps track of connections to items stored outside the project file, such as folders, databases, and toolboxes.

You can also create additional resource indexes to index specific locations that are not folder connections in a project.

A location that is indexed by the resource index, such as a folder connection, may be added to many projects, but has only one index entry. The path to the location and the list of projects that reference it is maintained in an indexing configuration file stored at C:\<user profile>\AppData\Local\ESRI\Index\Config\IndexingConfig.cfg.

Index paths and contents

The resource index is stored in your user profile directory at <user profile>\AppData\Local\ESRI\Index. This folder may contain the following subfolders:

  • Config—Contains the indexing configuration file and associated files. The indexing configuration file is a complete list of paths indexed by the resource index.
  • Connections—Contains copies of enterprise geodatabase connection files that are used during indexing.
  • Log—Contains the indexing log file and related files.
  • ResourceIndex—Contains the resource index files.
  • Thumbnail—Contains thumbnail images of spatial data items indexed by the resource index.

The project index for each project is stored in the project's home folder in the Index\<project name>_index folder. This folder may contain the following subfolders:

  • Connections—This folder is empty.
  • <Project name>—Contains the project index files.
  • Thumbnail—Contains thumbnail images of maps indexed by the project index.


Because of a change to the project index folder naming convention at ArcGIS Pro 3.3, projects created in earlier versions may contain an additional index folder from the earlier version. This folder is not needed and is automatically deleted when the project is reindexed. You can also delete it manually.

Indexing operations

There are two indexing operations: dynamic and scheduled. There are three kinds of scheduled indexing: incremental indexing, reindexing, and thumbnail generation.

Dynamic indexing

Dynamic indexing occurs as you work in a project. It updates the resource and project indexes as needed when the following occur:

  • Items stored in the project file are created, deleted, copied, or renamed.
  • Item connections are added, removed, renamed, copied, or deleted.
  • Items accessible from item connections, such as shapefiles in a folder connection, are created, deleted, copied, imported, moved, or renamed.
  • Item metadata is edited.

Incremental indexing

Incremental indexing is a scheduled task that checks each indexed location and updates the index for items that have been added, deleted, or renamed. It does not update the index to reflect changes in item metadata.

Incremental indexing is especially useful for updating the index with respect to changes made outside the ArcGIS Pro environment, because these changes are not captured by dynamic indexing. For example, if items are copied to an indexed location using File Explorer or another application, the index is updated by incremental indexing.

Incremental indexing also updates the index with respect to changes that take place within the ArcGIS Pro environment that may not be reflected by dynamic indexing. For example, if the contents of a shared location are changed by a different ArcGIS Pro user, or if the contents of a location are changed in one instance of ArcGIS Pro while multiple instances are open, the index is updated by incremental indexing.


Reindexing, also called index rebuilding or full indexing, is a scheduled task that deletes the index entries at each indexed location and indexes the location again. It performs the following functions:

  • Creates a new list of the items stored at each indexed location
  • Indexes item metadata
  • Creates a new list of the items for which thumbnail images can be generated

Thumbnail generation

Thumbnail generation is a scheduled task that creates 300x200 pixel .jpg files representing maps, scenes, and spatial datasets. Thumbnails are stored in folders at the same locations as the resource and project indexes. They can be displayed in item pop-ups in the Catalog pane.

By default, thumbnails are not overwritten once they are generated. After thumbnails are generated the first time, the task runs faster because thumbnails are generated only for new items. You can change the default setting by modifying the indexing settings. Thumbnails are not generated for items that store user-created thumbnails in their metadata.

Because reindexing creates the list of thumbnails to generate, thumbnail generation cannot be performed more often than reindexing.

Designated locations to include or exclude

You can designate a folder to be indexed regardless of whether it is a folder connection in a project. Items in folders designated for indexing can be found in any project that you search, including projects created without a template.

By default, designated folders are indexed by the resource index. However, you can create an index specific to the designated folder in a location you choose. This may be useful in the following situations:

  • You want to share the index with others.
  • You want to turn off indexing for local disks or other locations, but continue to use and update the index for the designated folder.

You can also designate a folder not to be indexed. If a folder is excluded from indexing, its contents are not returned in searches, even if the folder has already been indexed. (The index entries are not deleted, but search results are filtered out.) If you subsequently remove a folder from the list of excluded locations, and the folder was previously indexed, search results are returned immediately.

In the event that the same folder is designated as both an included folder and an excluded folder, the folder is excluded.

Indexes managed by others

In addition to the index managed on your computer, you can use indexes that are created by someone else and shared with you. For example, an administrator using a different computer can index a location on a network drive and store the index in a location that is accessible to you. This allows you to search the contents of the network drive without indexing it on your computer. To use items returned in search results—for example, to add data to a map—you must be able to access the location where the indexed items are stored.

Unindexed projects

In the following circumstances, an existing project may not be indexed:

  • You haven't yet opened it (for example, you downloaded a project package from a portal).
  • You created it while indexing was turned off.

To start indexing an unindexed project, open the project and perform a search or start manual indexing.

Upgrade from an earlier ArcGIS Pro version

When you upgrade from an earlier version of ArcGIS Pro to the current version, any changes you made to default indexing settings in the earlier version are preserved in the current version. For default settings you did not change, the default settings of the current version are applied as follows:

  • Local disks are indexed but network locations and enterprise geodatabases are not.
  • Scheduled indexing tasks run when you are signed in to your computer and ArcGIS Pro is not running.
  • Incremental indexing runs hourly, reindexing runs daily, and thumbnail generation runs weekly.


After upgrading, it is recommended that you run the Rebuild index task at your earliest convenience. Once the index is rebuilt, you can item type filtering is available for search results. Also, before running the task, you can browse to <user profile>\AppData\Local\ESRI\Index in File Explorer and manually delete all files in the ResourceIndex and Thumbnail folders. This ensures that the rebuilt index is optimized for the current version of ArcGIS Pro.

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