ArcMap Tools Toolbar

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Tools Toolbar

The ‘Tools Toolbar’ is one of the four common toolbars in ArcGIS. This toolbar includes things like zoom, pan, select by shape, and measure. 

  • The light blue box shows which tool is currently active. In this case, it is the black select elements arrow. This is the default “does nothing” tool.
  • Clicking on your map with the black arrow will select things in layout view, but doesn’t do a whole lot in data veiw, thus it’s safe to have on and not fear moving or messing with stuff

Zoom In/Zoom Out


The Zoom In and Zoom Out tools allow you to draw a box on the map with the tool active and zoom into or out from a portion of the map. For example, if you wanted to zoom to just the State of Colorado, select the Zoom In tool and draw a box around the state’s boundary.


The Pan tool is used to move the data around within the same extent (zoom level). Once you’ve zoomed in or out from the data, the pan tool will allow you to look at it. Panning can also be accomplished by:
1.Pressing and holding the center mouse button, and
2. Using the Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys on the keyboard


The identify button will open the “Identify” dialog box displaying the attributes of the feature clicked on. Use this tool to interactively find out information of features on your map.

Select Features

An interactive arrow which allows you to select features by clicking on the map instead of using the attribute table. Use the shift click to select multiple values when in Create a New Selection mode Used in conjunction with the Interactive Selection Method in the Selection Menu
The Interactive Selection tool has five options of tools to use with your data.
  1. Select by Rectangle This tool is used as both the “single feature” tool, that is to say, the tool used to single click and select one feature, as well as it’s ability to draw a rectangle and select all the features inside it.
  1. Select by Polygon This tool is used by drawing a polygon (thee or more clicks anywhere that connect the dots and close the shape) and selecting all the features that fall within or along it’s boundaries.
  1. Select by Lasso This tool selects features when a shape is drawn by holding the left mouse button and dragging a shape around. When the lasso is closed, all the features inside or intersecting the boundary of the lasso are selected.
  1. Select by Circle This tool will select any feature that falls inside or along the boundary of a drawn circle
  1. Select by Line This tool will select any feature intersecting a line drawn by clicking two or more times, after the tool connects the dots
Interactive Selection Options

Clear Selected

Clears all selected features in all layers. If there are no selected features anywhere in the map, this option will be grayed out.
Note: If you’d like to clear the selection from only one layer, use the clear selected button found either in the attribute table’s Table Action Buttons or in the View by Selected Table of Contents view.

Go to Previous/Next Extent

These buttons will step through the last and next extents. If you zoom out, then pan from Colorado to Florida, the zoom in on Miami, the Last Extent button will return to the view of Florida, then with another click to Colorado, then with a third click, the United States. The Next Extent button will step forward through that sequence. Thise buttons are similar to the “back” and “next” buttons in a web browser.

Select Elements

Tools Select Tool
The Select Elements tool is used to select items other than features for editing.
This can also be considered the “nothing” tool, which will release most other tools from being active.
In Layout View, the Select Elements tool will select the different elements.

Fixed Zoom In/Fixed Zoom Out

Tools Fixed Zoom
Fixed Zoom In and Fixed Zoom Out will step-zoom the map in or our at pre-defined intervals.

Full Extent

The full extent button will zoom your map to the default or defined largest extent of all layers in the map (by default) or the level defined in the extent used by the full extent command section under the Data Frame tab in the Data Frame Properties
Note: The full extent button is a ‘single click button’ and does the action immediately. It does not open a tool which changes your cursor so you can interact with the map.


The measure tool is used to measure areas and distances on your map.
•  Segment is between clicks
•  Length is the total of all clicks

Go to XY

Used to jump to a specific point on the map.  Supported coordinate forms (found under the drop down arrow): 
• Decimal degrees 
• Degrees Minutes Seconds 
• Degrees Decimals Degrees 
• U.S. National Grid 
Once a coordinate pair is defined, the tool allows you to: 
• Pan to (centers the point at the current extent) 
• Zoom to (zooms to the point at the smallest extent possible) 
• Flash point (map doesn’t move, but point ‘flashes’ and two laser lines zoom across the screen to mark the point) 
• Add point (adds a graphical representation of the point. This point is not saved anywhere but in your MXD as a graphic) 
• Add labeled point (same as ‘Add point’ but adds a label) 
• Add Callout (adds a callout graphic with the coordinates labeled inside) 
• Use the ‘Recent’ list (found between the callout and units buttons) to scroll through other coordinates you’ve typed in within this MXD ONLY