Installing ArcGIS on a Mac

Welcome Mac owners!  Esri's ArcGIS Desktop 10.4x requires Windows Operating System (10, 8 or 7).


You're ready to then install ArcGIS. Please read our ArcGIS Installation instructions.

Other Recommendations for working with ArcGIS
Small USB Mouse with a wheel and a right-click button. ArcGIS uses a graphical user interface, a design space, and includes many functions/menu's using the right-click. We highly recommend this item.

Office Production applications
LibreOffice (free and open-source) or MS Office 2010 or later. GIS often use spreadsheets and databases to store information and data. You will want an office application to view this type of GIS data.


Windows OS can be installed two different ways: A) Separate Boot Disc; OR, B) Virtualization. You can read more about the differences in the next section but we recommend option A which uses a free utility called Boot Camp.

The general process goes like this:

  1. Make sure your Mac OS is up-to-date for the latest version of Boot Camp.
  2. Back-up your stuff with Time-Machine/other backup software.
  3. Download Boot Camp Support Software (Mac model dependent - see section below). These files will be installed after Windows is installed.
  4. Run Boot Camp and partition your drive (we recommend at least 50gb (100gb if you have the space).
  5. Insert Windows OS DVD (required if your model has an optical drive) OR use USB/Utility Manager to mount Windows OS .iso as a drive.
  6. Run Boot Camp to install Windows.
  7. Install Boot Camp Support Software on Windows OS.

Parallels, VMware or other virtualization software can be used but only Boot Camp is covered in the Step-By-Step Instructions to Install Windows 7 on a Mac. As always: Proceed at your own risk.


In order to install Windows on your Mac you can choose to create a separate partition by using either Boot Camp or install a virtualization software (Parallels, VM Fusion, VirtualBox). There are a few key differences between Boot Camp and virtualization software that could determine your choice.

While virtualization software enables Windows to run on top of Mac OS (in other words, a window in Mac OS), which is convenient, it also means both Windows and Mac are using hardware resources to do their job, so there is potential for performance loss. Choosing Boot Camp will mean having to boot into Windows (or reboot Mac in order to access Windows). While this may be inconvenient it does allow for the greatest performance for both Windows and Mac. Being that ArcGIS Desktop can be a process hog on the cpu and graphics card we recommend using Boot Camp. However, this does not mean you can't or shouldn't use virtualization software to install Windows and ArcGIS. It can be done. We just want you to have the best possible experience with ArcGIS Desktop.

The Step-By-Step instructions to install Windows on a Mac will only detail using Boot Camp 5.0. However, you can still use the instructions to install Windows and ArcGIS Desktop if you already have a virtualization software or want to use one.

If you require using Boot Camp 3.1 the steps are basically the same but we can also suggest this decent tutorial that is specific to 3.1.

Boot Camp Support Software for Windows OS by Mac Model

Apple provides a table listing Mac version and its compatibility with Boot Camp. Visit the link below and scroll down to the section for your Mac Model to see what version of Boot Camp your Mac model supports (if at all) as well as to download the Support Software files.

Please note, that while Boot Camp 5 is the latest version this does not mean your Mac model supports version 5, you may need to download the Boot Camp Software Support files for version 4.

***Always back-up your Mac with TimeMachine before installing Boot Camp.***

Then, see the next section below on purchasing the correct version of Windows OS for your Mac.


We recommend purchasing Windows 10. However, be aware that you must check the Boot Camp Requirements by Mac Model chart to see which version of Boot Camp your Mac model supports - the Boot Camp version will determine the Windows OS version as well as denote if you can use 32-bit or 64-bit.

32-bit or 64-bit?
If choosing Windows 8 you must have a 64-bit Mac.  How to figure out if your Mac is 32 or 64 bit

Microsoft Version options for a Mac user: As a Mac user you must purchase the "full copy" of Windows 7 or 8, NOT the "upgrade" version.  

Windows 10

ArcGIS 10.4x is certified for Windows 10. System Builders and Mac users should purchase the Full Version of Windows 10. The Microsoft Store should provide you the correct version but you can also do a web search to find the full version from other resellers.

Windows 8.1

In Windows 8 there is only the System Builder/OEM version that you can purchase. Mac users can only use the 64-bit version of Windows 8.

Microsoft Windows 8 64-bit DVD or .iso file (An .iso file is a disk image instead of a physical CD or DVD).  Purchase the System Builder/ OEM version from Amazon or Newegg for Windows 8.

Windows 7

In Windows 7 you can purchase the Full Retail copy which is more expensive but does not register hardware configuration, therefore, you can install on mutliple machines or replace/upgrade hardware with different brands. OEM (aka System Builder) is considerably less expensive but will register hardware configuration which means installation on a single-machine; no hardware upgrades allowed and faulty hardware must be replaced with original hardware.

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 32/64-bit DVD or .iso file* (An .iso file is a disk image instead of a physical CD or DVD).  You can purchase either a Full Retail copy or OEM version from Amazon (OEM) or Newegg (Retail | OEM). 

ArcGIS Desktop Installation


CURRENT VERSION: ArcGIS Desktop Installation Instructions

This page describes how to prepare, download, and install ArcGIS Desktop 10.3x (and 10.4x) Student Evaluation copy. ArcGIS Desktop is now a downloadable product from the Esri website. Note: Students have access to ArcGIS 10.4.1 but the GIS Quick Start labs are currently based on 10.3.1. For the Python for ArcGIS or Vector/Raster Analysis workshops, please download 10.4.1.

***Please read the Steps below prior to installing ArcGIS Desktop 10x***

  • You must uninstall any previous version of ArcGIS Desktop.
  • If you will be installing ArcGIS on a Mac click here for more information.



Review the ArcGIS Desktop system requirements 10.3x | 10.4x and view both the Hardware & Software Requirement sections.

Not sure you have the right hardware?

System Requirements Lab is a free online service that will check your computers hardware to see if you can run ArcGIS Desktop. Check your computers ability to run ArcGIS

Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 is required for 10.3x. If you have Windows 7, 8, or 10 installed it should already be included. The installation wizard will prompt a message if it's needed. (Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 is required for 10.4x)


Download and install either 7-zip or virtual optical drive.

ArcGIS Desktop is delivered/downloaded as a .iso file from the Esri website. In order to install ArcGIS Desktop you will need a utility that can either extract files from a .iso file or read a .iso file.  A .iso file is a disk image file instead of a physical CD or DVD.

7-zip will extract the files from a .iso. This means if the ArcGIS Desktop 10.x .iso is 1gb in size you will need an additional 1gb of disk space (2gb) to store the files.

Virtual CloneDrive (available for Windows only) can be installed for users without an existing optical (CD/DVD) drive. This install will create a virtual optical drive that you can then mount the .iso to and run the .iso as if it were a DVD.


*Step 3 through 5 are designed to show the approximate process, some screenshots may differ slightly from version to version of the software*

Create Esri Global Account OR if you already have an Esri Account then Activate the authorization number provided by your instructor AND download ArcGIS Desktop. The gallery below shows a step-by-step process of creating an account, activating the authorization code and finally downloading ArcGIS Desktop. *** PLEASE DOWNLOAD VERSION 10.3x FOR GIS QUICK START WORKSHOP ***



Before you begin, you should already have installed .NET Framework 3.5 if installing 10.3x (or .NET framework 4.5 if installing 10.4x) and activated your authorization code. Installation time ~ 25-30 minutes.


After installing ArcGIS Desktop it must be authorized before the program will open. Your authorization code MUST already be activated as described in Step 3 above.



Download and install the latest Service Packs and/or Patches if necessary.

*** NOTE: there is no Service Pack for 10.4 *** But there are non-critical patches that you can choose to install.

Under Patches & Service Packs select the ArcGIS Desktop link, then choose the latest Service Pack. The file will be labeled something similar to: ArcGISDesktop10spX.msp

Not sure what Service Packs and patches you have already installed?
Download and install the PatchFinder (Windows & Unix available). This utility does not show you which service packs and patches you need - instead it shows the service packs and patches you have already installed.


CHECKS: Please verify you've done the following...

- Did you "register" the software? Did you receive an email confirming it's registered? This requires creating an Esri User Account.

- Did you "authorize" the software? This is done post-installation.

Q: When I launch ArcGIS I'm prompted with a message that declares I can't open the software (license manager/server or concurrent use error). What did I do wrong?

A: During the "authorizing" step you must select ADVANCED - SINGLE USE. Launch the ArcGIS Administrator application, click the Desktop folder, make sure Advanced (ArcInfo) Single Use is selected.

Q: I've installed ArcGIS on my desktop and now I just bought a new laptop, can I install ArcGIS on my laptop?

A: Yes. However, you must de-authorize the ArcGIS license on your desktop first, then install and authorize ArcGIS on your new laptop. The license will still have the same time-out or expiration date.

To De-authorize ArcGIS Desktop:

  1. Open up ArcGIS Administrator
  2.  In the left-hand pane, click the Support Operations folder, and then click the Deauthorize button.
  3. Check the box next to the installed items you wish to deauthorize and click next. The wizard will guide you through the deauthorization process. If you encounter any issues please contact Esri, be sure to mention you are working with a Student Evaluation copy.

Q: I've unistalled ArcGIS Desktop but I forgot to deauthorize the license. How do I deauthorize my license so I can use it on another computer?

A: Esri has a technical article on this here.

Q: During the authorization process I receive an error. It doesn't complete and I can't open ArcGIS, what do I do? OR, my computer crashes during the authorization process?

A: Call Esri and ask them to reset the license, see the Esri Support Center tab for more information.

Q: How many times can I de-authorize a single-use license?

A: Four times per year. The year begins at the first de-authorization. If you get locked out you will need to contact Esri.

GIS Theory & Practice

» Have you heard about this thing called "GIS" and wondered what it is, exactly?
» Do you love working with maps, digital data, computers and the latest technology?
» Are you new to GIS and need someone to work with you from "square one"?
» Do you want to learn about one of the fastest-growing fields in today's job market?

If any of these questions apply to you, we encourage you to watch this informative free GIS workshop and meet the instructors of the GIS Education Center at City College of San Francisco.  We are a friendly, supportive and knowledgeable group of GIS practitioners (some may say geeks...and we're OK with that) whose mission is to de-mystify GIS technology by offering low-cost, targeted, hands-on workshops at conveniently-located classrooms in San Francisco.

GIS is short for Geographic Information Systems; and in simple terms is data converted to a map which aids in decision making.

You will discover GIS is a system and approach for studying the world around us. Businesses, communities, and organizations often have piles of data with spatial capabilities unexplored or used. We want to train the workforce to take advantage of this neglected data and show GIS can be an asset.

GIS typically tends to be a tool or a skill most of us use to augment our existing career. The GIS Education Center recognizes not everyone wants to be a GIS geek and strives to develop workshops where all backgrounds can succeed at using the technology.

Video 1 of 5 Rick introduces himself and talks about the GIS Education Center, its worskhops, and purpose. In addition, Rick begins discussing the topic of What is GIS?
Video 2 of 5 Rick continues discussing geospatial, providing an overview of geospatial technology, and the application of GIS in various industries.
Video 3 of 5 More discussion on theory of GIS, as a workflow from data to information to wisdom. In addition, Rick discusses the principals of effective map design.
Video 4 of 5 Rick provides an overview of the ArcGIS software package, Geospatial literacy, Geospatial workforce/jobs, and examples of GIS projects.
Video 5 of 5

SFGIS Quick Start

Dates: August 23, 30, Sept. 6, 13, 20

Time: Tuesday 1:30pm - 5:00pm

Location: CCSF Downtown Campus
88 4th Street San Francisco CA 94103
5th Floor - Room 515c




1. Register
Prospective students must first register, please fill out this form.

2. Wait for notification
Registrants will be notified by email of their enrollment status.


When will I be notified?
Registrants will be notified as early as possible. We generally like to notifiy prospective students 1 week prior to the start of class. However, we reserve the right to notify up to the day of class, though this is usually due to a student dropping the class thus opening an opportunity for the next student on the wait-list.

Do I need to have access to ArcGIS Desktop software?
It's highly preferred. The material is based on Esri's ArcGIS Desktop 10 software.  If you do not have access to ArcGIS Desktop 10.4.1 in the office you can inquire with your local or department GIS coordinator. However, that person is not required to provide you the softwarein order to complete course exercises.

We recommend students obtain a copy of the software by:
A) Purchase Getting To Know ArcGIS Desktop for ArcGIS 10. This book comes with a 60-day evaluation trial; Or,
B) Request a free 60 day trial version of ArcGIS Desktop from Esri.

• This course can not be taken for college credit and attendees are not considered City College students.



The workshop is designed for students with little or no GIS skills interested in understanding basic concepts of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and gaining skills to work with GIS on their own.  The workshop will demonstrate the fundamentals of creating maps, editing data, and performing analysis. Students will gain confidence in these fundamentals through various exercises, group work, and assignments.  Using Esri's ArcGIS Desktop 10, students will be exposed to the most powerful and widely used desktop GIS software package.

Students will learn how to use the applications to solve questions such as:
• Find all sex offenders within 2000 feet of schools
• Where is the best location to open a new store?
• Identify census tracks with high income and high home ownership
• Display the number of accidents at each intersection by direction
• Where might disease spread too?

The five week workshop will focus on the following:
• Understanding the setup of a GIS project
• Understanding GIS file formats
• spatial queries
• symbology
• Basic editing techniques
• Creating new datasets


(1) This workshop requires no previous GIS skills.

(2) Students need to possess an intermediate-level knowledge of the Windows XP operating system. This includes creating new files and folders, copy and paste, transferring data between computers using a flash drive, and other basic desktop functionality. Familiarity with creating and managing new worksheets in Excel and working with a wide range of file types (e.g. TXT, CSV, XLS) is helpful but not required.

(3) Additional skills expected: storing, copying and management of multiple data types; managing multiple windows and applications; and the discipline to save work frequently.

(4) A strong motivation to learn, explore and have fun with computer applications is essential.  This workshop will require a significant amount of independent work and relies heavily on student initiative.

(5) An openness to working with other students in the class as a shared learning experience in order to complete assignments, build contacts in the professional GIS world and to support relatively new GIS learners.