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Technical Article   Bug:  Cannot open map documents in ArcGIS Desktop 9.3 that were saved in ArcGIS Desktop 9.2

Article ID: 35250
Bug Id: NIM039951
Software:  ArcGIS - ArcEditor 9.2, 9.3, 9.3.1 ArcGIS - ArcInfo 9.2, 9.3, 9.3.1 ArcGIS - ArcView 9.2, 9.3, 9.3.1
Platforms:  Windows 2000, XP, 2003Server, Vista


When opening map documents (MXDs) in ArcGIS Desktop 9.3 that were saved in ArcGIS Desktop 9.2, the following or similar error message displays:

"Opening the selected ArcMap document failed.

An unexpected error occurred while loading the map document.
Last Component: {588E5A11-11D1-AA7C-0C04FA33A15}.

It may reference an extension that is not currently installed or one that failed to load.

The following extensions were present when the map was saved
but are currently missing on your system:

- Survey Analyst
- TabletPC Support
- Tracking Environment
- Data Interoperability
- ESRI Adjustment Tools
- Overposter Validation
- ESRI Route Hatching Extension"

Error Message Example -show me-



When opening version 9.2 (or earlier) MXDs in ArcGIS Desktop 9.3, this error message generally means that a third-party application has corrupted the installation.


This issue can be resolved by uninstalling ArcGIS Desktop 9.3 and all versions of Python, renaming several current user and system install location folders, and reinstalling.

 WARNING: The instructions below include making changes to essential parts of your operating system. It is recommended that you backup your operating system and files, including the registry, before proceeding. Consult with a qualified computer systems professional, if necessary.

Esri cannot guarantee results from incorrect modifications while following these instructions; therefore, use caution and proceed at your own risk.

  1. Close all ArcGIS Desktop applications, including ArcMap, ArcCatalog, and so on.
  2. Navigate to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs.
    • On Windows Vista, click Start > Control Panel > Programs and Features.
  3. Select ArcGIS Desktop and click Remove.
    • On Windows Vista, click Uninstall/Change.
    Follow the prompts.
  4. Uninstall any additionally installed 9.3 components, such as Workstation, Developer Tools, etc.

      Do not uninstall the ArcGIS License Manager; it has no effect on this issue, so reinstalling it is unnecessary.

  5. Uninstall all versions of Python, including 2.1, 2.4.1, and 2.5.
  6. Start Windows Explorer and browse to C:\Documents and Settings\<your_login>\Application Data\.

     If the folder Application Data is not visible, navigate to Tools > Options, click the View tab, select 'Show hidden files and folders', and click OK.

  7. Right-click the Esri folder and select Rename. Rename the Esri folder to Esriold.
  8. Browse to C:\Program Files\Common Files.
  9. Right-click the Esri folder and click Rename. Rename the Esri folder to Esriold.
  10. Navigate to Start > Run, type 'regedit', and click OK.
  11. Expand HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software.
  12. Right-click the Esri folder and click Rename. Rename the Esri folder to Esriold.
  13. Navigate to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs. If ArcGIS Desktop is still visible in the list, use the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility to remove it.
    • See the link in the Related Information section for more information.
  14. Reinstall ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.
  15. After the reinstallation is complete, open the map document in ArcMap. If the problem is resolved, stop here - do not go on to the next steps. If the error message still displays, proceed to the next step.
  16. Open the map document on a computer that still has ArcGIS Desktop 9.2 installed. If there are any third-party extensions or toolbars turned on in the map document, turn them off. Also, turn off any free Esri add-Ins, such as ArcSketch or the Districting Extension.

     Third-party extensions could include ET Geowizards tools, XToolsPro, Hawth's tools, and more.

  17. Navigate to File > Save As and save the map document with a new name.
  18. Open the map document in ArcMap 9.3.

     There have been instances where this error was resolved by reinstalling the printer driver related to the printer saved in the map document. See the link in the Related Information section below for more information about deleting and reinstalling a printer driver.

     Additionally, this issue may be caused by a startup script that references a corrupt locator in a file geodatabase. Fixing the locator resolves the issue.

Related Information

Created: 7/21/2008
Last Modified: 9/29/2011

Article Rating: (7)
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By MMilos - 09/25/2014 7:02 AM

The article needs to be updated.

No need for reinstall. Just rename Normal.mxt template from AppData folder, and start ArcMap. It will work as before.


By timjdavis - 12/22/2011 9:35 AM

The article needs to be updated.

If anyone is still having this problem, a temporary fix is to save a new project over one of the corrupted ones, and the error message stops coming up. downside is you lose one mxd. so only useful if the error is affecting the majority of your map projects. also, the error resurfaced a few weeks later, not sure of the cause.


By Wilsonle - 06/23/2011 7:46 PM

The article needs to be updated.

I had the same error message as above with only with one certain .mxd. I fixed it by 1. renamed the .gdb the .mxd referenced 2. open the .mxd (it opened with broken data link) 3. closed the .mxd (didn't save) 4. renamed the .gdb back to the original name ....... and it now works. Still puzzled how that fixes it but it worked for me. It’s worth a try, better than reinstalling ArcGIS


By Anonymous - 05/09/2011 4:20 PM

I have suggested related resources/links that can enhance this article. See below.

A startup script for ArcMap that referenced a corrupt locator in a file geodatabase caused this error. After fixing the geocoder, these errors disappeared.


By Anonymous - 10/06/2009 9:40 AM

Other - See details below.

I was experiencing a similar issue (unable to open .mxds that I had worked in previously). I went from a network license to a standalone today, both version 9.3, and was unable to open my .mxds. After reading the article, I decided to try installing my aftermarket extensions (I use Hawths Tools and ET Geowizards, both free from the internet) and did so, in an empty .mxd. Then I went back to trying to open an existing map and was able to get into my maps! So, this error is not uncommon. We also experienced it when trying to transfer .mxds to another office so that they could help us with some mapping needs. Thanks!


By Anonymous - 04/22/2009 12:34 AM

Other - See details below.

Glad I found this article - however is this workaround the only way? It seems quite drastic to uninstall ArcGIS completley/fiddle registry/etc. Is there really not a simpler solution? Simon J Esri Australia Tech Support


By Anonymous - 12/23/2008 12:57 PM

The article needs to be updated.

I've been working with 9.3 sp1 for a while now. This error occurred for an .mxd that had been opened and saved quite a number of times under 9.3, so it does not only occur for a 9.2 mxd. Also, when I try to open ArcMap without clicking on an mxd, I get the 'visual c++ abnormal program termination' error. Surely reinstalling is not the only way to go?