Up and Running with ArcGIS
Illustration by John Hersey

Identifying features


Up and Running with ArcGIS

with Adam Wilbert

Video: Identifying features

One of the most common things that you will do in working with geospatial And go ahead and press find.

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Watch the Online Video Course Up and Running with ArcGIS
3h 13m Beginner Mar 11, 2014

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Get up and running with ArcGIS, a true geographic information system (GIS) that allows you to dig into highly accurate geospatial data in a way other mapping applications can't compete with. It's great creating maps, analyzing data for land use studies and other reports, and preparing data for use in an application or database. Let Adam Wilbert show you how to display, analyze, and illustrate geospatial data with ArcGIS. He explores how to import data from multiple sources, manage it with the ArcGIS catalog, and then start making maps. Learn how to lay out your data in the ArcMap component; add symbols, scale bars, and legends; and get your maps out of ArcGIS and into the real world, whether it's for printing or export to another application.

Topics include:
  • Understanding vector vs. raster data
  • Modifying metadata
  • Adding data to a map
  • Importing data from online providers
  • Labeling features
  • Joining data
  • Clipping data to a study area
  • Working with map layouts
  • Creating a legend
  • Printing and exporting the map to a file
Business Developer IT
Adam Wilbert

Identifying features

One of the most common things that you will do in working with geospatial data, is to explore additional information about the features that are currently on the map. After all, it's all well and good to have these shapes and dots on our screens. But if you want to find out what these points represent exactly, we'll need to explore them in more detail. To do this, we'll start by using this tool here on the Tools toolbar, called the Identify tool. It has a blue circle with a white eye on it. When I select it, you'll notice that my cursor changes the identify cursor. And now if I click something on the map, I get a new window that pops up called identify, it tell me details about what I selected.

In my case, I click on the State of Utah, and I can see a whole bunch of information about that state, here. Lets go ahead and close the identify window, and I'm going to use a bookmark that I've preset up called Southwest, that'll zoom into the southwestern states. Now, I want to identify a couple of different states, and I can do that by holding down the Shift key, and selecting the state of Arizona. And I'll hold down Shift for New Mexico, and Texas, and you'll see that it adds all of those to my identify screen. And I can click through these and as I click on them it'll flash their position on the screen with a cross hair, so I can see where each of these states are.

Now by right clicking on each state here on the identify screen, I can get some additional options. I have the option to flash its position, which is what we were just doing. It'll tell you where it's located. If I right click again I can zoom to it. So, it'll zoom and fill in the screen. I'll go ahead and press the Previous Extent button to go back to where we just were. If I right click on the state I can pan to its location which will center it on the map. If I right click on it again, I can create a bookmark for that particular location, or I can remove it from my selection by removing it there. At the top of the identify screen is a section called Identify From, and I have a drop down list.

In this drop down list it tells me where I can identify features from, and by default it's set to the topmost layer, in which case it will identify the feature that's at the top of the stack in my table of contents. I can also choose to only identify features that are invisible layers, or that are in select-able layers. Or I can hard code the identify window, to only choose features that are in a specific layer. So for instance if I select airports, and then try and identify a state, it's not going to find anything. But, it will allow me to identify airports here, for instance, this one in Flagstaff. Now, that's how you identify features that you have found on your map.

What if you want to find something that you don't know where it is? I'm going to go ahead and close my identify window, and I'm going to choose this button up here on the Toolbar called Find, it has the binoculars icon. When I click on Find, it's going to index my map features for just a moment. So I'll take a moment for the Find window to pop up and when it does, it presents me with the option to find features within the map. Here under find, I'm going to type in sky harbor, And go ahead and press find. The find tool will look through the map features, and it'll find anything that has the text Sky Harbor in it or in any of its features. If I right click on it, you'll see that I can get a pop up menu, with some additional options just like we had with the identify window.

So I have the option to flash its location. And if you watch the crosshairs, you'll see that it appears behind this find window. So if I move that out of the way. Right click once again, and say flash. You'll see the Sky Harbor Airport is right here in the center of Arizona. I can also zoom to its location, or pan to it. Or I can create a bookmark that centers it in the map. And creates a bookmark here called Sky Harbor International, that I can zoom to that feature right away, here. And finally, from this find window, I can right click on it, and jump right into that identify screen. It gives me some additional details about Sky Harbor International Airport.

For instance, I can see that it's of type major. We'll make use of that in the next movie. So those are two different ways, to find out additional information about the features in your map. The Identify tool will quickly see the details about individual features within the map document, and the Find tool will locate features when you know a name or attribute that you want to search by.

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