How to Clip Rasters to Polygon Boundaries in ArcGIS

How to Clip Rasters with Polygon Boundaries
How to Clip Rasters with Polygon Boundaries

Last Updated: Aug 7, 2017

How to Clip Rasters in ArcMap

This might surprise you to hear… But there are two ways to clip rasters in ArcMap.

First, the classic technique is the raster clip tool in Data Management of ArcToolbox. This has been around for awhile.

And second, the ArcGIS 10 Image Analysis Toolbar can clip rasters as well. The main advantage of the Image Analysis Toolbar is that you can visualize the end-result before you export it.

Sounds neat? Let’s take a look at both techniques to clip rasters in ArcMap.

Raster Clipping Techniques in ArcGIS

As shown in the image below, we will clip a “Shaded Relief” raster to the state of Wyoming which is a polygon boundary.

Wyoming in Center
Wyoming in Center

Here are step-by-step instructions how to clip rasters using two techniques in ArcGIS.

Of course, if you are looking for more time-saving tools in ArcGIS, check out our ArcGIS tips and tricks section for more.

1 ArcToolbox Clip Raster Tool

In the first example, we use the Raster Clip tool in the Data Management toolbox.

Here are the steps to follow to clip raster using this method. If you want to follow along, you will need a raster image and a polygon boundary.

In this example, we are using the Natural Earth data. Alternatively, you can use GIS data in our list of 10 free vector and raster data sets.

Step 1: Select Clip Tool in ArcToolbox

In ArcToolbox ( Data Management > Raster > Raster Processing > Clip ), double-click the clip tool.

Clip Tool in ArcToolBox

Step 2: Fill in fields

Input Raster (required) is the raster you want to clip. We want to clip the “Shaded Relief” raster.

Output Extent (optional) is the polygon boundary you want to clip to. You can select specific records in the polygon dataset and it will only clip this boundary. In our case, we would select the polygon of Wyoming before dragging and dropping it in the field. If you have coordinates instead of a polygon extent, type the maximum and minimum X and Y values.

 Use Input Feature for Clipping Geometry (optional)  checkbox clip rasters to a polygon boundary. We want to clip to the state of Wyoming so insert a checkmark in the checkbox.  Output Raster Dataset  is the name of the output (clipped raster). Add an extension for the output such as .TIF, .IMG, or .JPG.  NoData Value (optional)  means all the pixels with the specified value will be set to NoData in the output raster dataset. You can change this value in this field.

Raster Clip Toolbox

Step 3: Run tool

Run the “clip” tool by clicking OK. Finally, the tool will clip the raster to the polygon extent.

Wyoming Shaded Relief
Clipped Raster of Wyoming Shaded Relief

2 Clip Raster with the Image Analysis Toolbar

For the Image Analysis Toolbar method, the main advantage is that you can visualize the end-result before you export it.

Essentially, you create a temporary raster. If you like the temporary result, you can save it to memory.

Here are the steps to clip rasters using the Image Analysis toolbar in ArcGIS:

Step 1: Enable Image Analysis Toolbar

Enable the Image Analysis Toolbar ( Windows > Image Analysis ). After, this will display the image analysis window pane in ArcMap.

Image Analysis Toolbar
Image Analysis Toolbar

Step 2: Select Raster to Clip

In the image analysis toolbar, select the raster that you want to clip. Make sure you select the checkbox and highlight the raster. If you don’t highlight the raster in the image analysis toolbar, the clip button will be greyed out.

Select Raster in the Image Analysis Toolbar
Select Raster in the Image Analysis Toolbar

Step 3: Select Polygon Boundary to Clip To

Select the record of the polygon that you want to clip the raster to.

Wyoming polygon record
Attribute table of the United States polygon boundaries

Step 4: Click Clip Icon

Click the “clip” button in the image analysis toolbar. This will create a temporary raster. You can view the temporary clipped raster for an idea of how it will look when exported. All you have to do now is save this clipped raster.

Image Analysis Toolbar Clip Button
Image Analysis Toolbar Clip Button

Step 5: Export Raster

In the Image Analysis Toolbar, highlight the new clipped raster the tool creates. Save the new clipped image by clicking the export button.

Export raster button
Export raster button

Choose the location and name of the file that you want to save. You can also change the cell size and the format of the clipped raster. Finally, click save to export the raster.

Why clip rasters?

Clipping rasters means that you can save time. Processing data at a larger extent puts the crunch on you and your processor.

For example, satellite imagery and LiDAR data is a beast to work with. Wouldn’t it be nice to cut processing time down?

The good news is that you can save time when working with raster data.

How? Clip rasters to shapefiles (your area of interest). When you clip rasters, you generate workable subsets of data. All in all, we limit analysis to only the area of interest.

Other Resources
ArcGIS 10: Using Imagery Video


  1. Hi
    I georeferenced 7 geological map (1:100,000 geological map sheets next to each other) and now I want to clip parts of the 7 aforementioned maps. Is it necessary to join the 7 maps and after that to clip part of it?

  2. You can clip each separate sheet and then join, or you can mosaic the sheets and then clip.

    Sometimes if you have a border around each sheet you will have to clip each sheet beforehand

  3. Using the example data sets, how could one generate a DEM for each polygon? That is, a DEM extracted for (and named) Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, etc.?

  4. I wish Split Raster worked. Tried it on 10.3 and 10.5. Empty folder resulted. Maybe a file size issue? Inputs were source_dem, output folder, output base name, split method of polygon features, output format tiff (and ENVI, and GRID), Resampling nearest, split polygon feature class was a ~200 feature polygon shape file, other options were set to units:meters, cellsize specified same as imput DEM, and no data -9999. The output folder was empty on every try.

  5. No unallowed characters – no special characters, no spaces, no numbers, just lower and upper case letters. I was memorably burned once a quarter century ago. I won’t get burned again.

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