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.