Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How to Convert ArcINFO Interchange Files (.e00) to Shapefiles (.shp)

Back in the days of ArcINFO, interchange files, also known as export files (.e00) were used to package directory based data types (coverages and grids) into a single file so they could be transferred between different machines. Though ArcINFO interchange files are used less frequently today, it is not uncommon to come across this file type. So the question is, how do you convert an export file (.e00) to shapefile (.shp) format? There are actually a couple ways. The easiest way is to use ArcGIS Desktop (ArcView, ArcEditor, or ArcInfo license level). I explain how to do this step-by-step below. However, if you do not have ArcGIS Desktop, you can install a couple of free tools to achieve the same results. See the Converting E00 Vector Data To Shapefiles – A Free and Fairly Painless Approach entry on the Free Geography Tools blog for information on and links to the free tools available for the conversion.

Conversion Using ArcGIS Desktop
Stage 1: Convert ArcINFO interchange file to ArcINFO coverage
1. In ArcCatalog, click the View menu, then click Toolbars, and select ArcView 8x Tools to open the toolbar.
2. Select the Conversion Tools drop-down menu and click on Import from Interchange File…
3. Click the Input file browse button and navigate to the .e00 file to be imported. Once the .e00 file is selected click Open.
4. Click the Output dataset browse button and navigate to the directory where the output coverage will be stored. Provide a name for the coverage and click Save.
5. Click OK.

Stage 2: Convert ArcINFO coverage to Shapefile
6. In ArcToolbox, navigate to the Feature Class to Shapefile tool located in Conversion Tools  To Shapefile.
7. Click the Input Features browse button and navigate to the ArcINFO coverage that was created in Stage 1. Select the coverage and click Add.
8. Click the Output Folder browse button and select the folder where the shapefile will be stored. Click Add.
9. Click OK.

*Important Notes*
• The input .e00 cannot have a space in its name or be stored in a directory that has a space anywhere in the directory’s path.
• The output coverage cannot have a space in its name or be stored in a directory that has a space anywhere in the directory’s path.
• The output coverage cannot be more than 13 characters long, and cannot contain special characters (underscores are okay).


  1. Hi, I have been trying to follow your advice. I continue to get an error message about spaces in file path, although there are no spaces. Using 9.3.1 on xp. Any thoughts?

  2. Hi Noah,

    Thanks for reading my blog. There cannot be any spaces in the file name of the coverage, nor the directory in which it is stored. If there is a space in the name of your coverage, remove it. If the space is in the directory, copy it to a folder location that does not contain any spaces in it's path (like C:\TEMP). Let me know if you still have problems.

    (See the Important Notes section at the bottom of my post for other important tips)

  3. I do not know where the space was. I tried using the temp folder for output and it worked. You have a gold mine of useful info here. And thanks for the fast response.


  4. Ok new problem. I can view the newly created files in the temp folder through a windows browser now. But still nothing is displayed in the Feature class to shapefile dialogue (even with all filters listed for type). ahhh.

  5. Noah - try closing out of ArcMap and ArcCatalog. Then reopen and try again. If you still have the same problem, email me a screen shot of what you see in the Windows Explorer (

  6. Still nothing. I am sending you a screen cap now.

  7. I do have 1096 files format .e00
    In case I have selected some of those files in catalog and afterwards proceed with step #2, the interchange-import-tool switches to batch mode and all these files are available with in the input-file-list.
    But: how to fill the output-dataset-column? Any idea beside editing 1096 lines by hand?
    Thank you.


  8. Old post I've stumbled upon, but what the heck...

    Chris - select all the lines of the batch window, copy, use excel to format, and paste back in. Using delimeters to and from txt files/excel files works well.


  9. Hi,

    it is perfect, the first step is critical, when the e00 coverted to coverage, you can add it to ArcMap directly, and if you want can export to shape file.


  10. IT WORKED!! Thank you sooo much. Im new to the field and I was worried for a second that I was never gonna be able to use all these E00 files. You rock.

  11. hi i have e00 file but i cant open in arcmap 9.3 can you halp me *???
    here is my file there are nearly 200 file
    but i thnik all of only one piece. but i cant undesrtand which one i open?? can you help me plaesee

  12. THANK YOU! Just followed your instructions in Arcmap 10 and it worked properly. All others blog/website (including the ESRI one)were missing the second stage of the file conversion.

  13. Hi, thanks for this amazing blog!

    So, I've been looking for a similar but slightly different solution. I need to convert ArcINFO (ArcView 1.x) coverage to shapefiles. The coverage doesn't come in .e00 files, but rather in the old set of files (ARC, ARX, CNT, etc). However, they didn't even have the .adf extension (a characteristic of the very first ArcView, if I am not mistaken). They are just a bunch of files without any extension, like ARC, ARX, CNT, among others. The only file that has an extension is PAT.dbf. They came all in one same folder and they were delivered by an official mapping authority. I've tried using the tool at but also without any success. I've also tried to open the coverage as a New Theme at the ArcView 3.3. Nothing.

    Do you have any ideas on how could I proceed? Thanks in advance for your attention.

    1. Hi Richard,
      If I recall correctly, these files were almost impossible to move. In addition to the folder, there would also be another folder (Info) in the same directory, shared by all cooverages in that directory and containing something that was needed to use the coverage. Best guess is that you data delivery was either missing the info folder, or if you had multiple coverages, that something got overwritten.