My MXD file is corrupted and won’t open anymore. Can it be fixed?

Yes, but it will require some help from the GIS administrative staff. There is a utility called MXD Doctor that is provided as part of the sample scripts. These sample scripts may or may not have been installed as part of your ArcGIS installation. If not already installed on your computer, the installation can be done by a GIS administrative staff member. Once the MXD Doctor is installed, you will be able to restore a corrupt MXD file.

A note on prevention: The most common source of a corrupt MXD file is the thumbnail image. Thumbnail sketches are snapshots of your MXD file that are automatically created every time you save your ArcMap projects. Thumbnail sketches allow you to preview your MXD file in ArcCatalog, and for this they are handy. However, the thumbnail sketch is the element most often corrupted in a broken MXD file. The easiest solution is to turn off the thumbnail image.

Under File > select Map Properties. Uncheck the box ‘Save thumbnail image with map’. Save your project. This must be done for all your MXD files, but remains set for each from one session to the next. Incidentally, this makes saving your project run much faster!

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