Create a geospatial (referenced) image from images displayed on the the ArcMap canvas

Last Published: April 25, 2020


There is no built in functionality to export the displayed map to a georeferenced image at the data resolution. The steps in this document will allow you to approximate this effect.


  1. Display the map in the ArcMap canvas.
  2. Bring up the Properties of the raster layer with the largest extent. Preferably, the other data layers will match or fall entirely within this extent. Click the Source tab. Make note of the Number of Rows and Number of Columns.
  3. Make note of the scale. It is recommended to change this to an easily remembered value (i.e. 1:200,000 versus 1:205,286).
    Initial ArcMap window size

    [O-Image] Initial Image Size
  4. Resize the ArcMap window to more closely align with the data area. When the map redraws, reset the scale to the previous value. Adjust as necessary so the canvas window is completely filled by the data.
    ArcMap window resized

    [O-Image] ArcMap window resized
  5. Click File > Export Map
  6. Set the image type in the Export window to BMP. Click the Options button.
  7. In the BMP Options window, set the Color Depth as appropriate. Set the Image Size to the size of the data (Width = Number of Columns, Height = Number of Rows). Click on the Create World File checkbox. Click OK.
  8. Name the file as desired and click the Export button.

    This will create a BMP file (filename.bmp) with an associated world file (filename.bpw). You can convert this image to another format with the Arc CONVERTIMAGE command or with a third party graphics application (be sure to maintain the world file after the conversion).

    Note: In general, it will be difficult to get the image to line up exactly with the source data layers. For this reason, the output created from this procedure should not be considered as perfectly spatially accurate, but more for graphic presentation purposes. Using the largest display canvas will help minimize the error.

Article ID:000002053

  • ArcMap 8 x

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