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Exporting Photos From Avenza Maps For Use In ArcGIS

Avenza Maps Pro users can export layers to shapefile with associated photos. ArcGIS can display these photos using either hyperlinks or HTML popups. This post explains how to export your photos from Avenza Maps and display them in ArcGIS.

First, download and unzip these utilities. The general process for exporting and displaying photos is as follows:

  1. Export a shapefile with photos from Avenza Maps
  2. Unzip the exported files to your computer
  3. Open ArcGIS
  4. Add the shapefile to the map
  5. Save the map in the same folder as the shapefile
  6. Run the “Photo Shapefile Converter” tool
  7. Set the layer to display a hyperlinked photo and/or
  8. Set the layer to show an HTML popup


Exporting from Avenza Maps

First, export a layer that contains photos from Avenza Maps. Choose Shapefile (SHP) as the Export Format and ensure that Media Size is set to either Small, Medium or Large — don’t set it to No Photos. It is also possible with shapefile to set the Output Coordinate System to either WGS 84 (lat, long) or the native coordinate system of the map. The shapefile will export as a ZIP file with each of the component files of the shapefile and a folder called images.

Avenza Maps export settings


Display the photos in ArcGIS

Unzip the file on your computer and start a new session of ArcGIS. Load the shapefile into the map. Save the map document as an MXD in the same directory as your shapefile. The images folder should also be in this directory. The “Photo Shapefile Converter Script” creates fields with the path to the photos on your computer. It assumes the photos are in the same directory as the map. The script will not run if the map has not been saved.

Export folder

The shapefile has four attributes which are described below. The fields ‘name’, desc’, and ‘Photos’ have a maximum length of 254 characters. Because of this, ‘Photos’ can have a maximum of 13 photos.

  • name: From the placemark’s Title
  • desc: From the placemark’s Description
  • TimeStamp: The date the placemark was created
  • Photos: Relative paths to each associated photo separated by commas

Locate the Avenza Tools toolbox in the Catalog pane. Optionally, drag this toolbox to My Toolboxes for convenient access. Run the script Photo Shapefile Converter located in the Photos for Avenza Maps folder. Select the photo shapefile from the drop-down menu and click OK to run it. The script formats the shapefile to display photos using either a hyperlink or an HTML popup. Using the field ‘Photo’ as an input, it creates a field for each hyperlink (‘Photo1’, ‘Photo2’, etc.) and a field with the HTML code to display each photo in the HTML popup (‘HTML1’, ‘HTML2’, etc.)

Note: Photos exported from Android contain geotags and can be plotted in ArcGIS using the Geotagged Photos to Points tool. Photos exported from iOS do not have geotags.


Viewing Photos using a Hyperlink

Hyperlinked photos display in the default system viewer when the user clicks on the field in the info window or using the Hyperlink tool when a default field is set up.

  • Select the info tool and click a feature. Click on the lightning bolt icon and a photo will open in the default picture viewer
  • Open the layer’s properties and select the Display tab. Check “Support hyperlinks using field” and choose a field with a ‘Photo’ prefix (Photo1, Photo2, etc.). Click OK.
  • Select the Hyperlink tool from the ArcGIS toolbar. Click a feature and the associated image will open


Viewing Photos in an HTML Popup

To view as an HTML popup, open the layer properties and click “Show content for this layer using the HTML popup tool”, select “As formatted based on an XSL template”, and load the predefined XSL template ‘Avenza.xsl’. The XSL file determines how the HTML popup is formatted. Select the HTML popup tool (word bubble icon) from the toolbar and click a feature. The placemark’s title, description, and all associated photos are displayed in a callout.

One thought on “Exporting Photos From Avenza Maps For Use In ArcGIS”

  1. rweber says:

    Another option to get attachments into a Filegeodatabase as attachments download zipped up shp and run this from script tool or stand alone:

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