User Questions: KML and Shapefiles

January 24th, 2010 by mike.mahaffie
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Today’s question involves ways to convert data in KML or KMZ — created using Google Earth or Google Maps — to shapefile data, without using ArcGIS.


Sometimes I feel like a real neophyte, and apologize in advance if this turns out to be an elementary question.  I would dearly like to know how to convert KMZ and/or KML files to shape files.  I (and many colleagues who do not use ArcView) have an ongoing need that makes it simpler and more efficient to collect data in Google Earth and export it for use in Arcview.  Can you and/or your colleagues provide some guidance?  I am certain that I saw some communication about this last year.

It is fairly well documented that we can now export KML and KMZ from ArcGIS. It is also possible to import these file types into ArcGIS using the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension. This is not a free extension, but does offer support for many types of data, data translation and extract, transform and load (ETL) functions.

But you can also translate KML and KMZ into shapefile outside of ArcGIS. Here are a few possibilities, in no order and implying no sort of recommendation, based simply on my poking around the web:

  • KML2SHP is an online, form-based tool that lets you copy and paste, or upload, KML and export it to shapefile. I should note that you can use the “save as” command in Google Earth to save a KMZ as a KML.
  • The Free GIS Blog has a post on this subject that recommends using the DNR Garmin Application from the State of Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources. This is an ArcGIS extension, but the Free GIS Blog suggests that it can also be used as a stand-alone application.
  • There is at least one KML to Shapefile converter on the SourceForge open-source software site.

Editor’s Note: From time to time we get questions about software, data and other issues from members of the Delaware GIS Community. We try to provide the best answers we can, but recognize that the GIS community as a whole is brighter than any one of us individually. So, please, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. We’re not that proud; we’ll accept any help we can get.

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2 Responses to “User Questions: KML and Shapefiles”

  1. Dale Lutz says:


    My company makes the Data Interop Extension, which will do a fine job of reading KML/KMZ and then letting you rearrange it on its way into a Geodatabase. The Data Interop is an ArcGIS extension, and runs within that environment. If you want to run something entirely external to ArcGIS, our FME product will do just that, and let you go out to a wide variety of output formats. There’s a free eval off, and if you’d like to see some of the things folks have done with our KML support check out and for two interesting examples.


  2. Hi all,

    We have a converter to convert Google Earth’s KML file to Shape file(kml2shp). This converter can convert any type of KML to the Shape file format as per the standards. With this converter, you get the advantage of having your own shape file for any area of the world thus relieving your need to search or purchase the Shape file . This converter proves to be a User Friendly one as its GUI is so simple that you don’t need to specify anything for conversion.

    You all get this for a very minimal one time cost. If you like to have your own converter for generating shape file, reach us at

    Best Regards
    fevisis dev team