Knowledge Base - Technical Articles

Technical Article   HowTo:  Remove multiple fields from a table or dataset through ArcMap

Article ID: 27336
Software:  ArcGIS - ArcEditor 9.0, 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 9.3.1, 10 ArcGIS - ArcInfo 9.0, 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 9.3.1 ArcGIS - ArcView 9.0, 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 9.3.1
Platforms: N/A


It is not possible to select and delete multiple fields from an attribute table through ArcMap. Instructions provided describe how to remove multiple fields from a table or dataset simultaneously by exporting the feature class or by using the Delete Fields geoprocessing tool.


One way to remove multiple fields from an attribute table is to use the Delete Fields tool in the Data Management Tools > Fields toolbox.

If the use of a geoprocessing tool is undesirable, then the following steps will walk you through removing the fields through ArcMap. This task can be used with a shapefile, stand-alone dBase table, SDE feature class, SDE table, or personal geodatabase feature class or table.

  1. Add the data layer to ArcMap.
  2. Double-click the layer name in the ArcMap table of contents to access the Layer Properties dialog box.
  3. Click the Fields tab.
  4. Click Clear All to turn visibility off for all fields.

     The Clear All button located at the bottom of the Fields tab allows for controlling visibility of all fields in the layer simultaneously.

  5. Check each field you wish to retain.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Right-click the layer and select Data > Export Data.
  8. From the Export Data dialog box, change the file name, desired output file format, and output file location, if necessary, and click OK.
  9. Add the newly created dataset to ArcMap and verify that all fields with the visibility setting turned off were carried over into the new layer.

Created: 7/28/2004
Last Modified: 11/3/2015

Article Rating: (7)
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By twest820 - 12/16/2015 9:50 AM

The article is incorrect or the solution didn’t work.

Delete Field appears to correctly, if slowly, drop columns from the underlying table. After which, ArcMap 10.3.1 always spins indefinitely at 16% CPU on a single core with an unresponsive UI, requiring manual process kill and restart to continue editing. This doesn't meet freeware expectations, much less those for code at ArcGIS's price point. It's orders of magnitude faster and 100% more reliable to write an ALTER TABLE in SQL or even manually delete columns in Excel.


By SiteMarker1 - 11/02/2015 4:41 PM

The article needs to be updated.

The best way to delete multiple fields now is to bring your data into ArcGIS PRO, use the fields view, and select all fields you would like to delete (can use shft or ctrl to help select), then choose delete from the FIELDS tab at the top of the program. Alternatively, you can use the Delete Field geo-processing tool in ArcMap.


By katiekat466 - 07/15/2015 11:05 AM

The article is incorrect or the solution didn’t work.

Step #9 is worded incorrectly, "verify that all fields with the visibility setting turned off were carried over into the new layer" - Shouldn't the fields that had visibility turned off NOT appear in the new layer?


By Anonymous - 11/02/2009 7:51 AM

Other - See details below.

Has this feature been updated. I would like to delete multiple fields in a shapefile but not go through the pain of exporting and creating multiple copies as this article suggests.


By Anonymous - 11/20/2008 3:44 PM

The article has missing, misleading, or conflicting information.

This article is patronising and factually incorrect - there is no way to delete multiple fields unless using an externally added script. The text would more accurately describe article topic thus - 'The deletion of multiple fields in ArcView is not possible. It is possilbe though, to create a new shapefile with a subset of existing fields achieving the same effect as deletion of multiple fields whilst having the advantge of retainng the source data.'.....


By Anonymous - 02/05/2008 10:42 AM

Great article! It helped a lot!

Thanks for the article concerning how to delete multiple fields.


By Anonymous - 01/25/2006 11:08 AM

I would like to see some VB code that does this very thing programmatically. Thank You Vince Smith