How To: Acquire projection files in the Coordinate Systems folder in ArcGIS for Desktop 10.3 and later


The instructions provided describe where to find the projection files located in the Coordinate Systems folder in ArcGIS for Desktop 10.3 and later.


The Coordinate Systems folder is no longer installed under Program Files, but in the following user profile path:

C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\ESRI\Desktop10.3\ArcMap\Coordinate Systems

The folder, AppData, is a hidden folder. To show hidden folders, refer to the following web help, Windows Help: Show hidden files.

The physical projection definition files (.prj) are now accessible from the Coordinate Systems folder above, and only if the projections have been added to the Favorites folder in ArcMap.

The Coordinate Systems folder does not exist in the directory above until a projection is added to 'Favorites'.

This causes applications relying on ESRI projection files (.prj) to not function correctly, or display error messages. For example, Trimble Pathfinder Office users exporting GPS data into a shapefile format may result in errors due to the .prj file not being included in the export.

  1. In the ArcMap main menu, click View > Data Frame Properties.
  2. Click the Coordinate System tab. This creates the Coordinate Systems folder in the default location.
  3. Select the desired projection from the drop-down or search for it in the search bar.
  4. Right-click and select 'Add To Favorites'. This saves the desired projection as a .prj file in the Coordinate Systems folder.
  5. Navigate to the Coordinate Systems folder at the following default location.
    C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\ESRI\Desktop10.x\ArcMap\Coordinate Systems

  6. The projection file (.prj) is now available for use.

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