ArcGIS Online

Use images as point symbols in Map Viewer

When styling point symbols, you’ll find many different symbol styles to choose from. The built-in symbols are organized into categories that organize them for easy browsing and selection.

In addition to the built-in symbols, you can upload and use any PNG, GIF, or JPG image to add custom symbols to your maps, delivering a unique look-and-feel. These are part of the “uploaded symbols” category that can differentiate your work from others, or provide focus and impact to the content you want to present.

The symbols can also include animated GIFs, offering yet another way to make your map experience different and compelling.

Open the sample web map to follow along with the steps below. You can also use an existing web map with a point feature layer.


Use an existing image

To use an image as a symbol, follow these steps.

Step 1 — Open the sample web map. You can Sign In to save the map, or just follow along. You can also use your own web map with a point feature layer.

Step 2 — Make sure you have a suitable image to use on your local drives. For best results, use a square image 120 x 120 pixels or less. Larger images will be adjusted to fit.

Tip: Use a PNG or GIF with a transparent background if your symbol does not fill the square to avoid unwanted white space. For best overall results, use a PNG file.

In this example, the following custom symbols can be used. One is a static PNG, the other is an animated GIF. Click the image you want to use below to view it.

View image and save
View image and save

Once opened by viewing above, right-click to save the image to your local drive. Options you see will depend on your browser. Shown below are the options when using Chrome.

Save image

Images used in this example have been obtained and derived from Volcano icon by Icons8.

Step 3 — Open the Layers pane from the Contents (dark) toolbar. Ensure that the Alaska Volcanoes layer is selected.

Select layer

Step 4 — In the Settings (light) toolbar, open the Properties pane and click Edit layer style.

Edit layer style

You can also open the Styles pane from the Settings toolbar to advance to Step 5.

Step 5 — The layer is symbolized using a single symbol. Click Style options in the second section to advance.

Pick a style

Step 6 — Click to edit the current symbol style.

Edit style

Step 7 — The current symbol is of type Basic point. Click to change it.

Basic point

Step 8 — Click Symbols in the Uploaded Symbols category.

Uploaded symbols

Step 9 — Click Browse to navigate to the image on your local drives and select it to use it as your point style.

Uploaded symbols

Note: Uploaded symbols will persist until you clear browser cache, so you can go back and reuse them. Uploaded symbols cannot currently be saved for other members of your organization to use, members must add them from local files as described above.

Uploaded symbols

Once added, uploaded symbols can be sized, rotated, and have effects applied like any other symbol.


Create your own symbol

You can create your own image to use as an uploaded symbol. Symbols can be authored using any graphics program. Use a PNG or GIF for a transparent background, overall PNG provides the best results.

Something to consider is that the center of the image is placed on the x,y point location. For example, the symbol below will be placed with its center (where the dashed lines cross) on the x,y location of the point on the map.

Image center

To place the bottom tip of the symbol on the x,y location, create a symbol as shown below, placing the tip of the “tail” at the center of the image.

Image center


More information

For more information, see Use style options.

This post was originally published on August 26, 2016, and has been updated.

About the author

Corporate technology evangelist and advocate at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping customers succeed with the ArcGIS system. On a good day I'm making a map, on a great day I'm on one. Email or connect on LinkedIn (


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