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GeoprocessingGIS Analysis

Clip Tool in GIS – GIS Geography

By: GIS Geography · Last Updated: October 20, 2020

What Is the Clip Tool?

The Clip Tool cuts out an input layer to a defined feature boundary. Like a cookie-cutter, the output is a new clipped output.

The clipping layer must be a polygon. But the input layer can be points, lines, or polygons.

The Clip Tool and Intersect Tool achieve the same results. But the main difference from the Intersect Tool is how it only retains the attributes from the input layer.

Whereas, the Intersect Tool preserves attributes from both tables input tables.

The Clip Tool is not just for vector

You can also clip raster data, using a polygon, graphic, or even a data frame.

If you need help, we have a tutorial on how to clip rasters with two different techniques.

Some of the advantages are:

  • Save time by working with a subset of data.
  • Perform area and summary statistics to your area of interest.
  • Improves cartographic output by clipping imagery to a specific extent.

Clip Tool

Common errors and troubleshooting

It’s always a good idea to visually spot-check a few areas after running the Clip Tool.

If your output isn’t what you expected, these are some of the common errors and how to fix them.

Missing Output – If data is missing in the output, it’s often because you selected a record selected before running the process. In this case, you will have to unselect the data and run again.

Same Projection – When the output is shifted, this can occur from having datasets in two different protections. Try projecting your data, and running the tool again.

Repair Geometry – If no records are in the output, you can try to repair the geometry beforehand. I’ve also seen even exporting to a shapefile fix this error.

We also have a range of troubleshooting specific to 999999 errors in ArcGIS, which is Esri’s generic error code.

How to run a clip in ArcGIS and QGIS

In ArcGIS and ArcGIS Pro, the Clip Tool is in the Analysis Toolbox and within the Extract Toolset.

Clip Tool ArcGIS

For QGIS 3, you can find it in the Vector | Geoprocessing Tool | Clip.

Clip Tool QGIS

In both GIS software, there are 3 entries including an input, clipping layer, and clipped output layer.

Your Turn

Clipping data is like the bread and butter of GIS tools.

It’s straightforward, and it’s probably going to bed one of the first you learn.

Do you have any questions about clipping data?

Please let us know with a comment below.

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