Unable to create a selection layer in ArcMap

Last Published: January 27, 2022


No selection layer is created and nothing is added to a map when you attempt to use the Create Layer From Selected Features option in ArcMap.

This article applies to retired ArcGIS versions 8.x. Later versions of ArcGIS may contain different functionality, as well as different names and locations for menus, commands and geoprocessing tools.


You cannot create a selection layer from a layer that points to a read-only personal geodatabase.


You must obtain write access to your personal geodatabase, but if unable to do so, you may be able to use a Definition Query instead of a Selection Layer. A Definition Query will only be a useful substitute if your selection is described using an attribute query.

  1. Right-click the layer on which you have made your selection and click Copy.
  2. Paste the layer into the Table of Contents.
  3. Clear the selection on the new layer.
  4. Right-click on the layer and go to Selection.
  5. Double-click on the layer to open the Layer Properties dialog box.
  6. Click the Definition Query tab.
  7. Click the Query Builder button.
  8. Use the dialog box to build a query that limits the features used in that layer as desired.

Article ID:000004915

  • ArcMap 8 x

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