How To Permanently Reorder Fields in ArcGIS

arrange fields arcgis feature

Rearranging Fields in ArcGIS

If you want to permanently reorder fields in ArcGIS, we have two ways to do it.

First, you can export your data and use the “field map” method.

Secondly, you can use X-Ray for Catalog. But this one takes a bit of time and effort.

So, let’s get started re-arranging your columns forever.

1. Field Map Technique

This method is a quick and dirty way to rearrange your fields. The best part? It works for both ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Pro. Follow the instructions carefully below.

Step 1. Rename your feature.

First, give your feature class a different name. If the name of your file is “feature.shp”, then change it to “feature_old.shp” in ArcCatalog.

Step 2. Export your data.

Export your data by right-clicking your feature. But this time, you can give it the same name as before. In this case, rename your export file as “feature.shp”. But don’t hit the export button just yet because you need to rearrange your fields.

Step 3. Adjust the field map.

By rearranging the fields in the “field map”, you can permanently change the order of your columns. If you want to move any fields to the right of left, then use the up or down arrow button.

Reorder Field Map

2. X-Ray For Catalog

X-Ray for ArcCatalog is a whole other beast. In fact, you have to download it and install it as a stand-alone application.

The main purpose of the X-Ray add-in for ArcCatalog is to design and document geodatabase. provides a simple spreadsheet interface to your geodatabase.

Step 1. Download X-Ray for ArcCatalog

First, download X-Ray for ArcCatalog Addin. As of today, the add-in is available for ArcGIS 10.2 to 10.7.

Step 2. Install X-Ray for ArcCatalog.

Find the XRayArcCatalog.esriAddIn file you just downloaded, and double-click it. In order to install the add-in file, you will have to confirm it is a trusted source. This add-in is a trusted source, so click the “Install Add-In” Button.

Esri ArcGIS Install Add-In

Step 3. Enable Extension.

Now the extension is installed, the extension will be available in ArcCatalog. After opening ArcCatalog, click the Customize drop-down and select Extension (Customize > Extension). Finally, select and ensure there is a checkmark for “X-Ray Extension for Geodatabases”.

X-Ray Extensions For Geodatabases

After enabling this extension, a new pane will show up with the “X-Ray for Geodatabases”.

X-Ray For Geodatabases Pane

Step 4. Reorder Fields Tool

As part of the X-Ray ArcCatalog Tool, it has a set of quick-and-dirty tools to set up the structure of your geodatabase. Specifically, it’s the Reorder Fields Tool that permanently moves your fields from a table.

In the menu, click (Tools > Reorder Fields). Next, the tool will open and prompt you to add a table or feature class. After you add a feature class, the tool allows you to design your exported feature class in several ways:

  • Field to Include – This option allows you to delete and omit them in your output.
  • New Field Order – By using semicolons, you can permanently change the way your output fields are ordered.
  • Delete Existing Table/Feature Class – You can overwrite your existing dataset or create a new one.

Reorder Fields Tool

Conclusion

Without a doubt, it’s a bit surprising why there isn’t a default ArcToolbox tool that does this.

In fact, this request has been “in consideration” for over 10 years from users altogether.

Unfortunately, Esri has completely dropped the ball on this one. They’ve switched their focus on less-used tools like 4D space-time cubes that less than 1% of the community uses.

But there still is a bit of a curious disconnect between the Esri community and the development team.

Either way, do you know any other ways to permanently arrange fields in ArcGIS or ArcGIS Pro. Please let us know with a comment below.

1 Comment

  1. Great tips! A similar one is to use the Merge tool, but only Merge your one feature class or shapefile. I believe this gives you even more options to change field names etc. It took me a long time to realize I could do this.

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