Georeferenced image displays as blank when opened in third-party applications

Last Published: April 25, 2020


Georeferencing and rectifying a raster image from ArcMap displays as blank in third-party applications like Windows Photo Viewer, GIMP, and so forth.


Starting at ArcMap 10.1, when a new raster dataset is exported and the original image is 8-bit, the following message may be returned:

"Export will add NoData pixels to the output raster dataset. In order to store the NoData pixels in the output, pixel depth will be promoted. Do you want to promote the pixel depth?"

When users select Yes, the pixel depth is automatically assigned to 16-bit.

When rectifying a georeferenced image, sometimes NoData pixels are created in the corners in order to maintain the rectangular shape of the raster. When NoData pixels are added to a file-based raster with a full-bit range, these pixels are promoted to the next bit depth of 256, and results in a 16-bit output. When this output is opened in a third-party application that does not support 16-bit raster, it is shown as blank.

Solution or Workaround

Use one of the options below to avoid promoting a georeferenced image to the next pixel depth:

Option 1
Select No in the message dialog to preserve the image as 8-bit.

Option 2
Use Update Georeferencing from the Georeferencing drop-down menu in ArcMap. This writes the georeferenced information directly to the original raster without creating a new copy to store the spatial reference information.

Article ID:000012161

  • ArcMap

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