Use catalog views

Catalog views and the Catalog pane share many capabilities for working with project items. Catalog views offer the following unique capabilities:

  • View item metadata.
  • Preview spatial data and tables.
  • Create thumbnail images of datasets that appear in metadata, item pop-ups, and tile displays.
  • Manage styles.
  • View, sort, and filter items by their properties, such as name and modification date.
  • Display items in columns or as tiles.
  • Open multiple catalog views to work with items in different locations.

When a catalog view is active, the Contents pane lists the items in the project. As in File Explorer, items in the Contents pane are displayed to the container level. For example, folders, file geodatabases, toolboxes, and maps are displayed because they are item containers. The contents of a selected container, such as feature classes in a geodatabase, are correspondingly displayed in the catalog view.

Catalog view and associated Contents pane
When a map is selected in the Contents pane, its layers display in the catalog view.

The Contents pane of a catalog view looks similar to the Catalog pane. However, there are differences:

  • The Contents pane displays project contents to the container level. The Catalog pane displays contents to the item level.
  • In the Contents pane, you select one item at a time. The item's contents are displayed in the catalog view. In the Catalog pane, you can select and work with multiple items.
  • The Contents pane displays project items, portal items, and favorites in a single list. The Catalog pane displays them on separate tabs.

Catalog views don't interact directly with the Catalog pane. For example, browsing to locations or selecting items in a catalog view doesn't update locations or selections in the Catalog pane. However, whether you use a view or the pane, the same project items are available. For example, if you add a folder connection in a view, it appears in the pane and vice versa.

Many common tasks can be performed in either a catalog view or the Catalog pane. In a catalog view, commands are accessed from the Catalog and Manage tabs on the ribbon, from item context menus in the Contents pane, and from item context menus in the catalog view. In a catalog view, you can also right-click an empty area of the view to open a context menu for the catalog location.

Open a catalog view

You can open two or more catalog views and use them to compare the contents of databases or folders, compare metadata for two items, copy items from one style to another, and so on. New catalog views open to the top level of the catalog: the Project container Project. When you browse to a location in a catalog view, save the project, and later reopen it, the view starts by default from its saved location. You can change the default behavior in the catalog browsing options.

When you create a project from the Catalog project template Catalog, the project starts with an open catalog view. In other projects, follow these steps to open a catalog view:

  1. Click the View tab on the ribbon.
  2. In the Windows group, click Catalog View Catalog View.

    A catalog view opens. Any catalog views that are already open remain open.

    Catalog view
    The list of item containers, such as Maps, Toolboxes, and so on, varies according to the types of items that have been added to the project.


    Optionally, you can open a catalog view and simultaneously close the Catalog pane. In the Catalog pane, click Menu Menu and click Switch to View Expand.

Display items in columns or as tiles

You can display items in a catalog view in columns or as tiles. In the column display, items and their properties appear in columns that can be sorted. In the tile display, items appear as tiles that show a thumbnail image (if one exists) and other properties.

Catalog view of ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World items displayed as tiles and in columns
Portal items are displayed as tiles and in columns. You can switch the display mode on the ribbon or with buttons in the view.

Change the display type

By default, catalog views display information in columns. If you're working with unfamiliar data, or when you manage the contents of a style, you may prefer to see information presented as tiles. Follow these steps to change the display type:

  1. On the ribbon, click the View tab.
  2. In the Options group, click Display Type.
    • Click Tiles Display information on tiles to display items as tiles.
    • Click Columns Display information in columns to display items in columns.

    These buttons are also available at the bottom of a catalog view.


    When items are displayed in columns, you can drag column headers to rearrange the column order.

View item information

The information available for an item depends on the item type. Use the column display mode Display information in columns to see all available information.

Non-portal items display the following properties:

  • Items stored in the project file, such as maps, layouts, and reports, show their name and item type.
  • Most items with file extensions show their name, type, modification date, size, and path. For items such as enterprise geodatabases, servers, and cloud stores, the size is the size of the connection file.
  • Feature classes in file, mobile, and enterprise geodatabases, as well as stand-alone feature classes such as shapefiles and CAD files, show their geometry type.
  • Feature classes in file geodatabases show their modification date and size if set to do so in the catalog browsing options. Other file geodatabase items, such as raster datasets, display only their name, type, and path.

File geodatabase item properties, including feature class size, in a catalog view

Portal items display the following properties:

  • Title—The item title. The Title column includes badges that indicate portal settings such as authoritative content Authoritative, ArcGIS Living Atlas content Living Atlas, and publicly shared content Public. Hover over a badge to see its description.
  • Type—The item type, such as web map or feature layer.
  • Date Created—The date on which the item was created.
  • Date Modified—The date on which the item was last changed.
  • Owner—The item owner.
  • Path—The path to the item's REST endpoint.
  • Average Rating—The item's average rating on its item details page.
  • Number of Views—The number of times the item has been viewed in the portal.
  • Details Score—A measure of the completeness of an item's information on its item details page.

Turn columns on or off

Follow these steps to turn columns on or off in a catalog view:

  1. Make a catalog view active. If necessary, display items in columns.
  2. Right-click any column header to display a drop-down list of the columns.

    Visible columns have a check mark. Columns that aren't visible have no check mark.

    Catalog view and drop-down list of columns

  3. In the drop-down list, click the name of any column to turn it on or off.

    Retrieving the modification date and size information for file geodatabase items may adversely affect browse performance for large file geodatabases. To improve performance, you can turn this functionality off at the application level in the Catalog Browsing options. Turning columns off in the catalog view does not achieve this benefit because the information is still retrieved even if it isn't displayed.

Work with item details

The details panel of a catalog view allows you to work with item properties in various ways. You can view metadata, preview data, create thumbnail images, manage styles, and update data sources for map layers. The details panel is shown by default but can be hidden. You can drag the details panel by its border to resize it.

Catalog view showing the details panel
A style item is selected in a catalog view. The details panel, outlined in orange, shows the item properties.

Hide or show the details panel

Follow these steps to hide or show the details panel:

  1. On the ribbon, click the View tab.
  2. In the Options group, click Details Panel Details Panel to hide or show the panel.

    This button is also available at the bottom of a catalog view.

Sort items

The contents of a project item container are displayed in alphabetical order after the default item (if there is one). For example, the maps in the Maps container Maps appear in alphabetical order. Similarly, the databases in the Databases container Databases appear in alphabetical order after the default geodatabase. In the Styles container Styles Folder, system styles appear in alphabetical order after the Favorites style Favorite Style.

List of databases in a catalog view

When you browse into an item, items are typically sorted alphabetically, but there are exceptions. For example, items in a folder connection are sorted by type in the following order: folders, databases, toolboxes, CAD datasets, GIS servers, and other files. Within a type, items are in alphabetical order.

The default display order is called the catalog sort order. You can change it by sorting items in ascending or descending order on an available property. (The available properties depend on the item type.) You can also return to the catalog sort order.


Search results are displayed according to relevance by default. They do not have a catalog sort order. See Search the project and Search the active portal for more information.

Portal items

By default, items in most portal collections, such as My Content My Content, are sorted by modification date from most to least recent. The exception is items in the Living Atlas collection Living Atlas, which are sorted by relevance. Portal items can be sorted by any property other than their path. You can also filter a list of portal items using the Filter button Filter.

Style items

By default, style items are displayed in their ID order (the ID is not exposed). Style items can be sorted by name, category, or key. Learn more about style item properties.

Favorite items

By default, favorite items are displayed in the order in which you added or reordered them. They can be sorted by name, type, date modified, or path. Except when the default sort order is used, folders are sorted independently of other favorite items.

Sort a list of items

Follow these steps to sort a list of project items:

  1. Make a catalog view active and browse into an item container or content collection.

    You can only sort items when they are displayed in columns. You can't sort them when they are displayed as tiles.

  2. In the catalog view, next to the search box, click Sort Sort and click an available property from the drop-down list.

    Drop-down list of sort options
    This example shows the sort options available for file geodatabase items. The modification date and size properties are turned on in the Catalog Browsing options.

  3. Optionally, click Sort Sort again and do one of the following:
    • Reverse the current sort order.
    • Sort on a different property.
    • Return to the catalog sort order.

    You can also sort items by clicking a column heading, such as Name or Type, in the catalog view. Click the column heading again to reverse the sort order.

Use the location bar

The location bar at the top of a catalog view shows the current location in the catalog.

Location bar

You can use the location bar to browse items in the following ways:

  • Click a location in the current path to browse to it.
  • Click the location bar drop-down arrow to see a list of previously visited locations. Click a list item to browse to that location.
  • Paste or type a path in the bar to browse to that location. If the location is a folder, a folder connection is added to the project if your catalog browsing options are set accordingly.
  • Click the map button Map in the location bar to format the location as a path that can be copied to the clipboard.
  • Click Up Up to go up a level in the current location's path.
  • Click Back Back and Forward Forward to revisit locations.
  • Type a partial path followed by a backslash separator (\) to see a drop-down list of available matching paths. Click a path in the list to browse to it. You can also type Windows environment variables, such as %AppData%\ or %Tmp%\.
    Location bar showing a partial path with a drop-down list of autocomplete options