When exporting or printing a large map, the following error message is displayed.
"Cannot map metafile into memory. Not enough memory"
This prevents the output file from being created and deletes the interim Enhanced Windows Metafile Format (EMF) file.
When ArcMap prints or exports to any format, a series of 100 MB EMF files are created. Windows attempts to allocate enough memory to read each 100 MB size EMF metafile. If it cannot allocate a large enough contiguous block of memory, Windows returns a NULL or '0' EMF handle, and ArcMap displays the error message.
Memory in Windows is a combination of physical RAM and disk paging files. Memory is allocated when an application is launched, and it is released when that application is shutdown. Continuous use of applications causes fragmentation of memory and reduces the size of the largest contiguous block. Memory is slowly defragmented when the machine is allowed to sit idle, such as no processing or mouse movements.
An E-size map with raster elements, either raster data or rasterized vector objects, such as those having transparent or picture fill/marker symbology, can easily reach total temp file sizes of 2 to 4 GB. The interim EMF file used to store 2 GB of draw commands is represented as a chain of twenty 100 MB files on disk.
When creating a map of this size or larger, Windows must find at least 100 MB of contiguous (perfectly unfragmented) memory or it returns a NULL handle, and the error is triggered. Because any application or service running on the machine can fragment memory, perfectly contiguous 100 MB memory blocks become scarce after even moderate use. Preserving contiguous memory is difficult even on machines with large amounts of RAM (2048 MB and up), and plenty of disk space for the page file (4 GB and up).
It is highly recommended to use ArcGIS Pro for printing and exporting, especially when experiencing issues caused by the limitations of the ArcMap display engine. More specifically, ArcGIS Pro is not restricted by the graphical device interface (GDI) limitations that some users experience in ArcMap. For example, transparency is natively supported in ArcGIS Pro, preventing the rasterization of layers. Additionally, ArcGIS Pro supports transparency in layout elements.
Note: ArcGIS Pro does not support exporting Adobe Illustrator files; it is recommended to export using PDF or SVG instead. Also, because ArcGIS Pro does not use the Windows GDI, font substitution or fallback does not occur in ArcGIS Pro. Boxes may appear if using characters unsupported by the chosen font. If using ArcGIS Pro is not an option, use one of the following workarounds to resolve this issue.