ArcGIS for Desktop

ArcGIS for Desktop

ArcGIS is the industry-leading geospatial software developed by Esri and used to answer geographic questions, provide analysis, interpret information, produce cartographic products and build geospatial web-applications.

Spatial data refers to any information tied to a location. Census data is spatial data; road center-lines are spatial data. Any information that can be tied to a location, a geographic latitude-longitude coordinate, or a physical address, is spatial data.

ArcGIS provides an enormous collection of spatial analysis tools. These tools can do such things as calculate density and distance, interpolation, perform cost analysis, and proximity analysis. Address geocoding, the locating of a phenomenon by using a mailing address, one of the most popular tasks associated with geographic data, is a relatively easy capability within ArcGIS.

ArcGIS supports over 70 different data formats, SHP, E00, DWG, DXF, DGN, KML, and many more. The ArcGIS Geodatabase helps users management the variety of difference data sets used in analysis. ArcGIS allows users to add, modify, browse, and query using standard SQL geographic information.

ArcGIS can produce some nice mapping products and supports exporting graphic files to a variety of common graphic file formats, including TIFF, JPEG, Adobe PDF and Illustrator (.AI). ArcGIS contains a number of data visualization functions for assisting users in the analysis of complex data sets.

For more details about ArcGIS for Desktop, please visit ArcGIS for Desktop at

Note to Mac/Apple folks:

ArcGIS for Desktop is not natively supported for any Mac OS. If you have no choice and have access to only a Mac, the Mac must be running some form of Windows emulator on your Macbook.

ArcGIS for Desktop: Computer Requirements

Faculty, staff, and students need ArcGIS for Desktop for Esri's E-Learning courses. The computer requirements for ArcGIS for Desktop Student Edition are the same as those for the non-student edition.

For specific system requirements, visit ArcGIS Resources - System Requirements.

For most users, the following computer requirements will be sufficient:

  1. Operating System: Windows 10
  2. CPU Speed: 2.2GHz minimum.
  3. Processor: Intel Pentium 4, Core Duo, or Xeon. AMD processors are also acceptable though may not be specified on the support page.
  4. RAM: 4GB minimum. MARC recommends a minimum of 8GB, or as much as one can afford. ArcGIS Pro (ArcGIS 10.3) needs at least 8GB of RAM.
  5. Graphics Card: Any NVIDIA or ATI card w/more than 256MB RAM will work. But...invest in a 1GB card or better. Card must support OpenGL v2.0 or higher.
  6. Display: A 24-bit color display with a resolution equal to or greater than 1024x768. Dual-monitors is a joy.

Esri ArcGIS for Desktop Availability

Murray State/MARC is able to provide ArcGIS for Desktop for free to all faculty, staff, and currently-enrolled students. The ArcGIS for Desktop Student Edition is the same full-install found in several Murray State computer labs. The only difference is the Student Edition expires after one year.

Faculty and staff can have ArcGIS for Desktop installed on any Murray State computer for free. Students can request a Student License using the information found at the bottom of this page.

ArcGIS for Desktop includes the core ArcGIS software, plus Spatial Analyst, Network Analyst, and Geospatial Analyst. A version of Python programming language (v2.7) is also included. These software products are enough to accomplish the vast majority of virtual campus courses.

ArcGIS for Desktop: On-campus

Murray State Computer Labs

ArcGIS for Desktop can be installed on any Murray State University lab computer, as long as the computers meet the minimum system requirements. Currently, ArcGIS is supported in the following campus computer labs:

  • Mid-America Remote sensing Center
  • Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business
  • Hutson School of Agriculture

As noted above, none of the computer labs are open to the general student population, with the exception of the Science Resource Center. These computer lab double as teaching/lecture classroom and are therefore not open as general-use computer labs. Please refer to the rules pertaining to the individual computer lab for more information.

ArcGIS for Desktop: Request Student Edition and Authorization Codes

ArcGIS for Desktop is available for installation on any Murray State University computer. ArcGIS for Desktop Student Edition is available for faculty, staff, and currently-enrolled students to install on their own personal computers. The ArcGIS Student Edition cannot be installed on Murray State University computers. If a campus user needs ArcGIS for Desktop installed in a computer or research lab, a separate request for a campus install is necessary.

ArcGIS for Desktop for Academic Off-campus Use

Faculty, staff, and currently enrolled Murray State students may request a copy of ArcGIS for Desktop Student Edition for their academic use, to be installed on their own personal computer. Please send an email to Please include the following details in the email:

  • Subject: ArcGIS for Desktop Off-campus Use
  • Email Body:
    1. First and Last Name
    2. Status (Faculty, Staff, Student)
    3. Murray State Email Address (* software authorization codes can be granted only to those with active Murray State University email accounts)
    4. Year in School, if applicable (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior)
    5. College and Department
    6. Track, Major, or Area
    7. Computer Make and Model
    8. Reason for request (specific grant, research topic, or university course)

Once the request has been processed, instructions will be emailed to the person making the request within 24-48 hours.

ArcGIS for Desktop for On-campus Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff interested in using ArcGIS for Desktop for on-campus administrative, academic, and research purposes can make arrangements to obtain ArcGIS for Desktop for their Murray State University office or computer lab. Please send an email to for more details.