ArcGIS application errors – some troubleshooting tips

Twice today I’ve seen problems with ArcGIS 10 (and 10.1) failing to launch. In one instance, no specific application error was given – ArcMap just failed to start with a ‘serious error’ dialog, and in the other, some direction was provided by ArcMap in the form of an error message.

In both cases, the user had a corrupt default user geodatabase. The location of the default geodatabase may be given in the error message. If not, it should be located in <user profile>\My Documents\ArcGIS. If you are working on a lab machine, the location will be h:\ArcGIS\  The file is named Default.gdb, and if ArcMap has had trouble loading more than once, you may have multiple copies named Default.gdb, Default.gdb1, Default.gdb2…

The ESRI knowledge base article 38523 suggests several fixes, the most important of which seems to be deleting any Default.gdb files in the users profile directory. I found that using Windows worked properly, as ArcCatalog seems unable to remove the offending files. One machine I worked on today had more than 150 default.gdb files (all of which were corrupt and preventing ArcMap from launching).

A fix for ‘script errors’ when running tools in ArcToolbox

I recently was made aware of a fix for the long-present problem with ArcGIS on domain machines (i.e., users log in to lab or office machines using their ISO password) where a script error is generated every time a tool in ArcToolbox is opened. After dismissing three error dialog boxes, the tool will run ‘normally’. Not a fatal error, but annoying.

The problem stems from Internet Explorer, and can be fixed by replacing two files in \program files(X86)\ArcGIS10.0\ArcToolbox\Stylesheets

A description of the fix and the replacement files are available from

Administrator privileges are needed to implement the fix.