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Merging multiple shapefiles into a single shapefile

August 12 2010 | 12 comments
Categories: Map Data

Hello, I have multiple shapefiles of underwater forms (coral reef, outcrop, sandflat, etc) that I would like to combine into a single shapefile. This would make the data easier to manage and I would use a column in the attribute table to delineate each form, rather than have each be in a separate shapefile. How would I go about doing this? Thanks.

Mapping Center Answer:

First, all the data have to be of the same type (e.g., polygon).  Then you can use the Merge tool (ArcToolbox -> Data Management toolbox -> General toolset) to combines your multiple input datasets of the same data type into a single, new output dataset. You could also use Append, but the Merge tool has the advantage that it creates a new dataset from all the combined data. In contrast, Append appends multiple input datasets into an existing target dataset.

But is it really a new shapefile? posted by Britt Bluemel on Jan 11 2011 4:03PM

I'm using the Data Management > General > Merge tool to combine many different mapsheets together (just for drainage). The merge works fine, but it's really slow to load/unload, and still draws the new merged rivers as individual mapsheets (but they all fit together and have matching attributes in the end).
My question is - is the merged layer really a true merge and a new file, or a file copying the source location of the original smaller files? Hence the slow, piece-meal loading...

Thanks in advance for your help :)
New file posted by Aileen Buckley on Jan 11 2011 4:32PM
It will be a new file -- and because all the features will now be in that file that could easily explain why it takes so long to "load", as you say. You should be able to verify this by looking at the total number of records in the attribute table -- it should equal the sum of all the features in the data sets that were input during the Merge function.
Merging multiple shapefiles into a single shapefil posted by Michael Sexton on Jan 22 2012 7:11PM
I have a query about this issue.
I have hundreds of individual shapefiles that I want to merge into a single shapefile.
How do I choose all of them in one go?
It seems to me that I have to click on each of them in turn. I can't get the Shift or Control keys to work as one normally gets using Windows applications.

Is ther a simple method?


Mike Sexton
Geoscience Australia
re: Merging multiple shapefiles into a single shap posted by Rajinder Nagi on Jan 23 2012 10:54AM
If your shapefiles are all in one folder, you should be able to select all of them using Shift key. The Merge tool help is here:

In the case where each shapefile is in a different subfolder, please refer the previous answers here and use the script provided (you may need to modify the script based on your needs):

Hope this helps!
How can i overlay polyline into polygon featuer posted by Sodhi 963 on May 14 2014 10:06PM
Can you please help me doing polyline features and polygon features join in arc Map
Tech Support posted by Aileen Buckley on May 15 2014 9:55AM
Please contact Esri Technical Support for help with your issue.
merge shapefiles but keep unique field posted by kim finlay on Mar 26 2015 3:50AM
Hi, I'm trying to merge multiple shpfiles into one using the Merge tool. For example I want to merge fire scar data from multiple years, but when I do, I lose all the individual years. I still want to be able to see 2012 or 2010 in the Attribute Table. Hope that makes sense..

Any ideas?


Using the Merge tool posted by Aileen Buckley on Mar 26 2015 12:35PM
Using the Merge tool, you will, by default, retain all the attributes in all of the feature classes you merge together. Optionally you can delete fields you do not want to retain using the Field Map dialog box. I just tried this and it worked for me, using feature classes, not shapefiles. I don't think there is a difference if you use shapefiles, but I never use shapefiles anymore so I am not totally sure. You could try this again with feature classes and see what happens. Maybe that will fix your problem.
Merging multiple rows of data into one with the su posted by William McIntosh on Jun 19 2015 3:45AM
I want to merge data from a number of smaller polygons into a larger, however I want the resultant table to show the sum of these values. E.g. I have data listed by county and I want the counties merged into the state shapefile to find totals for each state.
Can I output result to a shapefile? posted by Amy Ihlenfeldt on Aug 27 2015 2:19PM
If I am merging 2 shapefiles, can the output be a shapefile or does it have to go to a .gdb?
Merging shape files into a shape file posted by Bibek Rana on Sep 9 2015 12:07PM
Can we merge multiple shape files into a single shape file ?(Rather than feature class in ArcGIS 10.3)
Yes posted by Aileen Buckley on Sep 11 2015 11:18AM
Yes - you can merge multiple shapefiles into a single shapefile.

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