Error: Error reading package contents

Error Message

After receiving a map package, attempts to open the package cause the following error:

Error reading package contents.


There are a number of issues that cause this error. Listed below are several steps to diagnose the issue and determine a solution.

Solution or Workaround

Confirm which of the following workflows is used to open the map package:

  • If unable to open the package when double-clicking a map package directly from an email or through the network in which it was provided, the workflows listed below are recommended.

Solution A

  1. Save the package to the local computer drive.
  2. Navigate to the package within ArcCatalog.
  3. Right-click the map package and select Unpack.

Solution B

  1. Use the Extract Package tool within ArcMap to unpack the map package.
  2. Extract the package contents to a specified folder (see the Related Links section below).
  • Determine if the map package was created in the same version of the software as the recipient, including service packs. Map packages may not open if:
    • The map package was created in a software version that is newer than the recipient’s.
    • The map package was created in a version of the software that has been updated with service packs, while the recipient’s software has not been updated.
  • Determine if the map package was created using SDE data. If the map package was created using SDE data:
    • Confirm that the Include ArcSDE Geodatabase Data option was selected when the map package was created.
    • Confirm that the recipient has access to the ArcSDE geodatabase data.
    By default, the ArcSDE geodatabase data is referenced by the package instead of being included in the package. Because the data is not included, the recipient must have access to the ArcSDE geodatabase data to view the map contents. If the recipient does not have  access, choosing to include the ArcSDE geodatabase data enables the recipient to view the map package’s contents (see the Related Links section below). 
  • When the contents of a map package are extracted without using the Extract Package tool to designate a specific file location, the maps are saved in the Packages folder in the recipient’s computer. If this folder is corrupt, the map package cannot open properly. Rename the Packages folder:
    1. Find the folder here:
    2. If the Packages folder is present, rename it to Packages_Old.
    3. When unpacking the map package, ArcMap or ArcCatalog automatically creates a new Packages folder to save the map package contents.

Related Information