The GPS toolbar does not recognize COM ports over COM9

Last Published: April 25, 2020


ArcGIS Desktop's GPS toolbar cannot access GPS receivers connected to virtual COM ports higher than COM9. To free occupied COM ports, force Windows to deallocate COM ports marked as 'in use'.


Bluetooth GPS receiver connections can sometimes be problematic due to strange COM port configurations and/or an incorrect installation order.

Problematic connection behavior is frequently found in serial COM port connections under these conditions:

• the connection is between desktop PCs and Bluetooth GPS devices or desktop PCs and Mobile PCs.
• the device connects via Windows synchronization software (ActiveSync or Mobile Device Center).
• COM ports COM1 through COM9 are already occupied on the Desktop PC, and former applications did not release the COM port after uninstallation.

ArcGIS Desktop only supports COM ports COM1 through COM9. If a COM port higher than COM9 is reserved for the virtual serial port in the Bluetooth stack, the GPS toolbar cannot find the port and does not allow a connection.


The instructions provided describe how to release and reactivate previously occupied COM ports.
  1. Open the Device Manager via Control Panel, and expand Ports (COM & LPT).
  2. Right-click a serial port, click Properties and select the Port Settings tab.

  3. On Port Settings tab, click the Advanced button to display the Advanced Settings window for the selected COM port.

  4. In the Advanced Settings window, release occupied COM ports by selecting individual dropdowns from the COM Port Number dropdown menu, and changing them to a port number in use.

    Warnings can be ignored during this step.

    When this process is completed, all unused COM ports no longer display the incorrect 'in use' status.

    Virtual COM ports can now be set to COM ports between COM1 and COM9, and this allows a Bluetooth GPS device to connect to ArcGIS Desktop's GPS Toolbar and obtain GPS positions.

Article ID:000011126

  • ArcMap

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