How To: Set a new data frame coordinate system (spatial reference) to one that is supported by the WMS service(s)


ArcMap supports a wide array of coordinate systems (spatial references), while the WMS service added to the map may only support a limited set. If the ArcMap data frame uses a coordinate system not supported by the WMS service, the service will not draw for pre-9.2 versions of ArcMap. To draw, the data frame must be in a coordinate system that is supported by the WMS server.

** The feature addressed in this article is only available in ArcGIS 9.0 Service Pack 2, which can be downloaded through the link in Related Information, below. **

If the version of ArcMap you are using is at least 9.2, ArcMap will draw the WMS layer regardless of the data frame's coordinate system. For more information see the 9.2 ArcGIS Desktop online help topic, "WMS service layers and coordinate systems"


  1. Right-click the WMS layer to open the layer’s context menu and select Change Coordinate System.
  2. Open the dropdown list near the bottom of the Change Coordinate System dialog box, and select one of the listed coordinate systems. These are the supported coordinate systems for the WMS service.
    [O-Image] changecs_dialog
    Launching this dialog box can also be done by right-clicking any group or an individual layer inside the WMS service. If you launch the dialog box this way, it will list the coordinate systems supported by the group or the individual layer that you right-clicked.

    If your map contains more than one WMS service, use the first radio button option in the dialog box to select a coordinate system that is supported by all the layers in all WMS services in your map. Depending on the services you are accessing, you may encounter a situation where no coordinate systems are common to all of the services. In this case, you won't be able to draw some of the layers, and they will remain shown with a grey check box in the Table Of Contents.
    [O-Image] lifemapper
    Using the Change Coordinate System dialog box will ensure that the coordinate system selected will be one that is supported by all the WMS services in your map.

    You can change the coordinate system of your map by using the Data Frame Properties dialog box, but this doesn't limit your choices to those supported by WMS services in your map, and therefore may result in some or all of the layers in WMS services being unable to draw.

    In the Data Frame Properties Coordinate System tab, only one supported coordinate system is listed for WMS service layers.

Related Information