ArcGIS – Selecting polygons from one layer that do not intersect polygons in another

When using ArcGIS Desktop alot of the times you are tasked with adding new information from data that are on different layers. For example – one of the most common tasks is adding new polygons from one layer unto another.  For clarity, let’s say you have two polygon layers one Green and one Blue. You might want to:

  • Select those Blue polygons that DO NOT intersect any Green polygons.
  • Export the selected Blue polygons to a third layer

Step 1 : To select the Blue polygons, I would first use the Selection > Select By Location tool, with Blue as the Target layer, Green as the Source layer, and intersect the source layer feature as the Spatial selection method. The intersecting Blue polygons are now highlighted.


Step 2: Next, right-click the Blue layer in the Table of Contents and drop down to Selection > Switch Selection. This has the effect of selecting those Blue polygons that DO NOT intersect Green polygons, which is what you want.


Step 3: In the Table of Contents, right-click the Blue layer and drop down to Data > Export Data. Enter the output path and name. Voila! – the third layer, containing only the intersecting Blue polygons, is created.

ArcGIS Selection and Switch Tool
ArcGIS Selection Tool Functions
ArcGIS Switch Selection Function

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