Running ArcGIS at the UW

Note that any Esri software you obtain through the UW is licensed for academic use only, which includes teaching, research, or administrative use. DO NOT use any of the site licensed software for any other uses. This means you should not use the software for uses such as

  • Your own private consulting business
  • An internship with a non-UW agency


Quick Links:

Running ArcGIS Desktop on computers owned by UW

If you are a student and want to run ArcGIS on a Window-based computer owned by the UW, ask your advisor, professor, or IT support staff to have ArcGIS installed on that machine.

ArcGIS sofware is also available in a number of computing labs at many UW campuses and facilities. A few of those facilities are:

  • Suzzalo Library GIS Lab

    • The GIS Lab is provided by the University Libraries to support the use of GIS for coursework and research by UW students, faculty, and staff. Groups are welcome to work together on GIS assignments in this space. GIS Lab staff are available to assist lab users with locating geospatial data, integrating data into GIS projects, and basic ArcGIS functionality. Lab staff cannot provide extended assistance with the completion of course assignments. Lab users are strongly encouraged to consult with their faculty and/or TAs for assistance with or clarification of course assignments.
  • College of Arts & Sciences Instructional Computing Lab

    • The College of Arts & Sciences Instructional Computing Lab is located in rooms B022 and B027 of the Communications Building and is open to all UW students. Room B022 is a drop-in lab containing twenty-seven Windows 7 systems. Room B027 is a classroom lab containing twenty-eight Windows 7 systems, a PC-attached projector, and an overhead projector. The maximum occupancy for either room is 30 people.

Running ArcGIS on your own Windows-based computer

If you are a student and want to run ArcGIS Desktop on a computer that is NOT owned by the UW (e.g., your own personal Windows computer), you are eligible to install a 1-year timeout version of ArcGIS. Note the software will only run on Windows machines; if you have a MAC or Linux machine you will need to be able to run Windows either in dual boot mode or within a virtual environment.

There are a few steps you will need to go through in order to get ArcGIS running:

  1. Get a license code from your instructor.
  2. If you are off-campus, use Husky OnNet to access resources as though you were on campus.
  3. Download the desired version of ArcGIS Desktop from Note that some third-party software that integrates with ArcGIS, such as Hazus, may require a specific version of ArcGIS Desktop, so make sure you download and install the correct version for your applications. Most users can simply download and install the latest version. Please note: there are multiple files that can be downloaded, The ISO file (e.g., /ESRI/ArcGISDesktop/10.4/ArcGIS_Desktop_104_148346.iso) contains a number of different applications and files in addition to ArcGIS Desktop, will be around 6 GB in size, and will likely take a long time to download. To install using the ISO, Windows 8 and 10 should be able to directly open the ISO file as a mounted file system. Other Windows versions may require the use of third-party applications such as 7zip for extracting the contents of the ISO file. To download only ArcGIS Desktop, make sure and navigate into the folder named ArcGIS_Desktop_nnn (where nnn is the version number), and download the main application EXE file, which will be around 1 GB in size. For example, this shows the download for ArcGIS Desktop 10.4, at the path /ESRI/ArcGISDesktop/10.4:

  4. Once the EXE file is downloaded, double-click and install ArcGIS Desktop using the default options, selecting "Complete" or "Full" installation of all parts of the software.
  5. Once you have installed ArcGIS Desktop, you will need to enable the license. The software will not run if the license has not been enabled. Make sure you have an active internet connection (at this point you don't need to be on Husky OnNet), and you have the license code from your instructor. These instructions will help you set up the license.
  6. Visit At this time you will need to log in (if you already have a account), or you will need to create an account using one of the links circled below.
  7. Log in with your account.
  8. Enter the authorization number you obtained from your instructor (the one shown below won't work).
  9. Click the link for the version of ArcGIS Desktop you want to install.
  10. The License Authorization Wizard may be open. If not, start the ArcGIS Administrator (within the group of ArcGIS applications).
  11. Click the Authorize Now button.
  12. Enter the authorization number you received from your instructor.
  13. Enter your personal information
  14. Choose the radio button for not authorizing any extensions. They will automatically be included in the student license once it runs.
  15. Again, do not select any extensions to evaluate (just click next without adding any extensions to the evaluation list).
  16. The authorization will proceed. Once the authoriation has completed, click Finish.
  17. You should now see that there are applications that were installed and are authorized for use.
  18. Test the license by starting ArcMap. You should see the splash graphic.
    And then you should see the Getting Started dialog.

    You are now ready to start using ArcGIS Desktop. The license will be good for one year after installation. If you need to keep running ArcGIS after a year, you will need to obtain a new license code from your instructor and you will then need to go through the authorization process again.


If you have troubles during the installation and licensing process, send a detailed message to Phil. You will need to include very explicit descriptions of your computer hardware, operating system, and what you did. Including screen shots in your message will be helpful if they show error messages.