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Use mosaic datasets to manage imagery

Many organizations have large, growing libraries of imagery and raster data. These libraries include source imagery and metadata from multiple sensor platforms and vendors, as well as diverse collections of imagery-derived products. Despite the many potential applications, this imagery may be poorly managed, making it difficult to locate, access, query, and share.

A mosaic dataset in ArcGIS Pro (or ArcMap) is one way to manage imagery in ArcGIS. A mosaic dataset is a type of catalog that references the source data, maintains relevant metadata, and defines the processing to be applied to the rasters. Mosaic datasets ensure that imagery or raster collections can be displayed, queried, analyzed, and shared.

A mosaic dataset provides dynamic mosaicking and on-the-fly processing to generate products. You can use it to manage mosaicking rules, seamlines, raster type, and processing parameters. For supported file formats, the raster type is designed to display an image properly and set up processing parameters with minimal user input. Processing parameters, whether defined manually or by raster type, are specified using raster function templates (RFTs), which apply an in-memory processing workflow for fast, dynamic visualization and analysis.

A mosaic dataset is optimized for sharing an imagery collection. When used as an image service, it makes the imagery, metadata, and RFTs accessible to desktop, web, and mobile applications. Alternatively, a mosaic dataset can be cached as tile cache and shared as a static basemap.

Explore the following resources to get started using mosaic datasets to manage your imagery and rasters. (Not sure where to start? Look for the star by Esri's most helpful resources.)

To view mosaic datasets or create tile cache, you need ArcGIS Desktop Basic. To create and edit mosaic datasets, you need ArcGIS Desktop Standard or Desktop Advanced. To use mosaic datasets as dynamic image services, you need ArcGIS Enterprise with ArcGIS Image Server. To host raster tile cache, you can use ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Server.

Imagery Workflows resources

Review the community-supported tools and best practices for working with and automating imagery and remote sensing workflows:

ArcGIS help

Review the following links on reference materials for ArcGIS products:

ArcGIS blogs, articles, story maps, and technical papers

Review the following supplemental guidance about concepts, software functionality, and workflows:


Review the following Esri-produced videos that clarify and demonstrate concepts, software functionality, and workflows:

Training and tutorials

Review the following guided lessons and tutorials based on real-world problems and key ArcGIS skills:

Developer resources

Review the following resources and support for automating and customizing workflows:

  • Visit the MDCS GitHub repository to download a Python script to help automate the creation and configuration of mosaic datasets.

Esri Community

Online places for the Esri community to connect, collaborate, and share experiences:

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