Maps saved with relative paths can have broken data paths when reopened from Windows Explorer or a Windows folder


When creating maps with relative paths, the resulting saved map's data sources display as invalid when reopened. The data source path displayed in layer properties on the data source tab contains a ~ character in the path instead of the full path name.

For example: C:\washin~1\lake.shp

Data paths will also be shortened in other parts of ArcMap. This includes when editing has started and the system prompts to select a single workspace to edit. This can also be seen when working with geoprocessing models in the model builder window.

The path to the map document file is also be shortened, and is visible in ArcMap's title bar. See the Related Information section for more details.


The map document was opened by double-clicking the map document in Windows Explorer. Names and folders are displayed with the Windows 8.3 naming convention, instead of the proper long filenames.

For example, a map saved with the name MapDocument.mxd displays as 'MAPDOC~1.MXD' on the ArcMap title bar.

The same naming convention occurs for the layer's data source paths as well.


To avoid this problem do not open maps in ArcMap by way of double-clicking on the map in Windows Explorer; use File > Open instead.

To successfully create an ArcMap document with relative paths follow the Steps below:

  1. Start ArcMap.
  2. Create a new map document or browse to open an existing map.
  3. Click Map Properties on the File menu.
  4. Click the Data source button and select 'Store relative paths'.
  5. Save the map, or save the existing map to a new name.

Article ID:000006809

  • ArcMap 9 x

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