ArcGIS Online

Changing the Map Projection in ArcGIS Online

As a map author, you may have noticed that web maps you create in ArcGIS Online Map Viewer are displayed by default in the Web Mercator map projection. This is because all basemaps in the default basemap gallery in ArcGIS Online are in Web Mercator.

But what if you want to use a map projection other than Web Mercator for your map?

All map projections distort the earth in some way, and your map may require a different projection, depending on its focus. For example, the Web Mercator projection greatly distorts area, which is particularly problematic when displaying Canada’s northern regions. This is apparent when you compare the following maps:

Comparison of two web maps of Canada at similar scales: one in Web Mercator and one in Lambert Conformal Conic.

While both maps are displayed at similar scales, each one uses a different map projection: Web Mercator (shown on the left) and Lambert Conformal Conic (shown on the right). You can see that Lambert Conformal Conic is a more appropriate projection for a map of Canada because area is not distorted the way it is with Web Mercator.

How to change the projection

In Map Viewer, the projection of the basemap defines the projection of the map. Therefore, the way you change the projection of the map is by adding a layer in the desired projection as a basemap layer. The key to this workflow is a simple, yet powerful option called Use as basemap, which tells Map Viewer to use the map projection of the current layer to display the map.

To learn how to change the projection, watch the following short video or follow the steps outlined in this Esri Community post. You can also continue the discussion with other ArcGIS Online users there.

Learn more

To learn more about map projections and how to work with them, see the following resources:

About the author

Jennifer Wrightsell-Hughes is a product writer on the ArcGIS Online team. She has a degree in Journalism and over 20 years of experience creating and editing content, including product documentation, tutorials, blog articles, guides, and videos.

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