Esri software              Google Earth           DNRGPS            QGIS

ESRI Software

The GIS software used by most departments at Michigan Tech is ArcGIS, by esri. ArcGIS Pro versions 3 and 2.8 are available in all of Michigan Tech’s open labs as part of Apps Anywhere. Their older software suite, ArcMap and ArcCatalog, is also available in AppsAnywhere. The current version—ArcGIS 10.8—is installed.

Please note that ArcMap is being phased out by esri and users are strongly encouraged to switch to ArcGIS Pro as soon as possible.

Our site license allows the installation of esri software on any University-owned computer. This includes machines in faculty, staff, and graduate student offices. Esri software may be used for teaching, research, or administration, but not for consulting or other for-profit work.

If you wish to arrange an installation of ArcGIS in your office on an IT-managed machine, contact the help desk at 7-1111 or email it-help.

Site licensed esri software can now also be installed on home computers or personal laptops for academic use. See below for details.

How to obtain ArcGIS Pro for office or personal machine use

Most courses at Michigan Tech have moved to using ArcGIS Pro for instruction. If you need ArcGIS Pro installed in an office or lab and you don’t have a self-administered machine, contact it-help.

If you would like a copy of ArcGIS Pro for your own computer, the media is available from Google Drive. Versions 3.0 or 2.8 are what’s currently used on campus. Download, installation, and licensing instructions are here for 3.0 and here for 2.8. If you want to be on the bleeding edge of releases, that’s version 3.1.

You will need to be logged in to Google with your Michigan Tech SSO credentials to access the instructions and software.

If you are having problems with ArcGIS Pro 2.8 or 2.9 crashing when editing symbology, see this post for details on how to fix the issue

How to License ArcGIS Pro on an office or personal machine

We have named user licensing set up for ArcGIS Pro for all campus users with a valid Michigan Tech SSO login. Named user licensing means you do not need to install a license file and do not need to update it annually, as your license is provided via your login credentials. Instructions for configuring named user licensing are in the second part of these instructionsThe same login process will work for ArcGIS Online. Login instructions specific to ArcGIS Online are here.

How to access ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online is esri’s online GIS, and is well integrated with both ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap. Persons affiliated with Michigan Tech (faculty, staff, and currently enrolled students) have access to ArcGIS Online via SSO login. Detailed login instructions specific to ArcGIS Online are here.

Some operations and data in ArcGIS Online use service credits. These include certain types of spatial analysis, geocoding address data, access to some data layers, and data storage. All users are allocated 1000 credits per year, and available credits renew each February. If you are curious what sort of credit use to expect when running a tool, see the list of premium services (under “credits by capability”) and read the “tips for everyone” section here. Geoprocessing tools in ArcGIS Pro have a credit estimator available that you can check before running a tool.

How to Download ArcGIS (ArcMap) for personal use

ArcGIS 10.8.2 is the most recent (and probably last) version of ArcMap and is installed in the open labs on Campus. The executable installers are large and should therefore be downloaded from a high-bandwidth connection. You only need to download ArcGIS_Desktop_1082_180378.exe – the other files are add-ons you won’t need unless you are undertaking advanced tasks. Detailed download and installation instructions are here.

ArcMap is being phased out by esri and users are strongly encouraged to switch to Pro as soon as possible. Licenses for ArcMap are limited in number & difficult to get as of 2023.

Please note you will need to be logged in to Google with your Michigan Tech SSO credentials before downloading any of these files, as they are shared from Google Drive.

How to License ArcMap on a personal machine

To license ArcMap on a personal machine, you will need 1) an active MTU VPN connection and 2) ArcMap installed and the ArcGIS Administrator configured to use the Michigan Tech license server:

Open the ArcGIS Administrator (Windows menu > ArcGIS > ArcGIS Administrator)
Choose the Desktop panel
Ensure that Advanced (ArcInfo) Concurrent Use is the selected software product
enter in the license manager line.

Activating a new license for subsequent years does NOT require re-installation of the software!

ArcGIS System requirements

ArcGIS software only runs on the Microsoft Windows platform (Windows 10 or Windows 11). If you have a Macintosh or Linux system, you will need some type of virtualization software (VMWare Fusion, Parallels Desktop, or Virtual Box {free!}) with a recent version of Windows installed. Apple silicon-based users (M1 or M2 MacBook owners) are advised to do GIS work in campus labs, as most Windows software has not been designed to run on ARM-based CPUs.

A full listing of hardware and software requirements necessary to run the ArcGIS suite is available from ESRI. If you don’t want to purchase a copy of Windows, a license is available to most currently-enrolled Michigan Tech students through the University’s Software Distribution Center.

Google Earth

Google Earth Pro is installed in all open computer labs. It may also be added to faculty and staff computers. Contact the help desk to arrange installation if you are interested. The free version of Google Earth may be obtained from, and as of spring of 2015, Google is giving away the Pro version of Google Earth! (see this link for details)

GPS Software

DNRGPS, provided by the Minnesota DNR under a no-cost license agreement, is installed in the open labs. This software allows for the transfer of GPS data from a Garmin (and many other models of) GPS unit to your computer. It can also save data collected by GPS to files compatible with ArcGIS (.shp or geodatabase feature class) and Google Earth (.kml). Note that DNRGPS often has a lag time before it is completely integrated with ArcGIS, due to regular code changes by esri. If you have issues between your installed versions of DNRGPS and ArcGIS, DNRGPS does function well as a standalone application. More information is on the DNRGPS web site, and tips for using DNRGPS can be found under the “How to” section of this web site. DNRGPS will work without administrative installation (you can run it from a flash drive or your home drive).

The tutorial materials for DNRGarmin will be rewritten for DNRGPS in the near future.  If you need help with DNRGPS in the meantime, contact the help desk and they will route the request to me. FYI – the State’s official projected coordinate system for Michigan (Michigan GeoRef) is NOT handled properly by DNRGPS version due to bugs in the version of the open-source GDAL/PROJ software it uses. These issues are fixed in DNRGPS versions and (released in May & June 2014). One caveat – there are multiple definitions for the Michigan Georef (Michigan Oblique Mercator) projection, and some odd behavior can still occur with coordinates, depending on which definition you use. I suggest double- (and maybe triple-) checking any coordinate pairs before sharing with others or heading out to do field work.

Other software

Many other GIS and GPS software programs exist. These include Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) applications, as well as more specialized GPS and image processing software. As we do not have site licenses for such software, or they are not used for teaching, you should check with your instructor if you need support for other packages. If you’d like a free GIS program to experiment with, QGIS is recommended. Installers for Linux, Windows, and Macintosh are available. QGIS 3.26 is the current release.