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FAQ: What is the correct use for the Geographic Transformation parameter in the Environment Settings?

Question

What is the correct use for the Geographic Transformation parameter in the Environment Settings?

Answer

The Geographic Transformation parameter is used to set a default transformation for a geoprocessing tool that would not normally have this option available.

For example, if data defined as WGS 1984 is being imported into a NAD 83 feature dataset using the Feature Class to Feature Class tool, the option to select a transformation does not exist. Therefore, ArcMap uses the Geographic Transformation parameter in the environment settings instead.

However, if a feature class in WGS 1984 is being reprojected to NAD 1983 using the Project tool, it uses the selected transformation as set by the Transformation pull-down menu and overrides the environment settings.