HOWTO: Convert KML/KMZ to LYR and SHP

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Let’s say that you have georeferenced data from Google Fusion Tables, a Google Earth layer, or from a smartphone app and you want to use it in ArcMap.  These sources will often use KML files, which are an XML-based geo-dataset. Although ArcGIS can’t read KML directly, ArcGIS does have a built in tool to help you convert the data over.

I’ve used this before with hiking data I recorded using an iPhone app that outputs to KML, but for the purpose of this how-to I’ve grabbed table data from Google Fusion Tables of farmer’s market locations in the US.

The conversion can be done in either ArcMap or ArcCatalog, with this example done in ArcMap. Click any image for a larger version.

1) Retrieve KML/KMZ file.

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Here I have loaded the Google Fusion Tables data into Google Earth for KML visualization.

2) Bring up ArcMap and whatever basemap you prefer.

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3) Open ArcToolbox and select ‘Conversion Tools’, ‘From KML’, and ‘KML to Layer’

kml144) When the window comes up, select the KML file (first input box) and then where you would like it to be saved (second input).

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5) This will create a Geodatabase and a Layer (.LYR) file in the destination directory, and will add the layer to your map with ugly symbology and (possibly unwanted) labels.

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kml86) Finally, you can either right click on the new layer and got to ‘Properties’ or double click on the new layer to change the point symbols. From properties you can also choose the label attributes or you can simply right click and uncheck ‘Label Features’.

kml97) Convert to SHP: If you would like the data as simple .SHP (and associated) files, then just right click on the data in the ToC and select ‘Data’, then ‘Export Data’, and then choose where you would like the files to be saved and what they should be called.

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KML file used in this demonstration:  Farmers Markets Locations in the U.S.

Link to original Google Fusion Table:  Geographic Coordinates Spreadsheet for U.S. Farmers Market

If you find that your KML file isn’t converting properly, try the Official Google Maps blog link to a KML Feed Validator to see if it’s formatted properly.

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