How to Install ArcView 3.x on Windows 7

Caitlin Dempsey


With so many GIS shops hanging on to legacy ArcView 3.x project files (.apr), having a running ArcView 3.x version in still a necessity for some.  Others still find working in ArcView 3.x preferable to ArcGIS.  

Installing ArcView 3.x straight from its original installation CD unfortunately won’t work.  The installer is  16-bit so trying to install ArcView’s setup.exe using the computability tab found on Windows 7 is not an option.

The steps below are what worked for me when I needed to install ArcView 3.3 on a Windows 7 operating system and I found them to be the simplest way to install a running version of ArcView 3.3:

Installing ArcView 3.3 on Windows 7 – Solution 1

This first solution requires access to a Windows machine running Windows XP.  Even thought it’s deprecated, ArcView 3.3 is still a commercial GIS software package so only transfer ArcView 3.3 installations that you are licensed for.

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Copy over the Required Files

  1. From the XP machine copy C:\ESRI and paste in the same named folder on Windows 7
  2. From the XP machine copy the files in C:\Program Files\Common Files\ESRI and paste into your Windows 7 machine in the following directory: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\ESRI
  3. On the XP machine, copy the ESRI fonts from c:\windows\fonts.  On the Windows 7 machine, install those fonts.

Update: these additional instructions have been supplied by James Cokinos from CGG on making sure that the final file, mtch.dll is copied over:

Once these files are copied over there will still be one missing file you have to get before you can run the .exe from the BIN32 folder. One .dll (dynamic link library) called mtch.dll needs to be copied over:

Copy and paste this .dll from the Windows XP machine into the following folder –> C:\ESRI\AV_GIS30\ARCVIEW\BIN32

Testing the ArcView 3.3 Installation

Once all the necessary files have been copied (and the ESRI fonts installed), you are ready to test your ArcView 3.3 installation.  Navigate to

C:\ESRI\AV_GIS30\ARCVIEW\BIN32\arcview.exe and double-click to launch the application.
ArcView 3.3 running on Windows 7
ArcView 3.3 running on Windows 7
To have Windows 7 automatically open .apr files using ArcView 3.3, double-click on any .apr file.  In the dialogue box that appears, click the browse button and navigate to C:\ESRI\AV_GIS30\ARCVIEW\BIN32\ and select arcview.exe.  In the Open with dialogue box, make sure the “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” is checked and hit the OK button.  Now Arcview.exe is associated with .apr files and double-clicking this file type will automatically launch ArcView 3.3 in the future.

Second Method for Installing ArcView 3.x on Windows Vista or Windows 7

Reader Erik has submitted step-by-step instructions on installing a running version of Esri’s ArcView 3.x on Windows Vista or Windows 7:

ArcView 3.x is a 32-bit app and has no problem running on a 32-bit or 64-bit Windows OS. It *should* work on all versions of XP, Vista and 7. I say *should* because I have not actually tried it on all versions.

The ArcView 3.x installer is a 16-bit app. 16-bit apps are supported on a 32-bit Windows OS, but not supported on a 64-bit Windows OS.

If you are working with a 32-bit version of XP, Vista or 7, just run the ArcView 3.x installer. Afterwards be sure to also install the XP patch, even if you are installing on Vista or 7. Get the patch here:

For a 64-bit Windows OS you have two options:
1) Copy all of the files, and registry settings, manually; or
2) Create your own 32-bit or 64-bit installer.

There is a good thread on getting ArcView 3.x to work on a 64-bit Windows OS here: 3.2 install windows 7

I chose the second option and created my own 32-bit installer using Microsoft Visual Studio. Here is what I did – NOTE: You can use these instructions for manually copying the files too. %windir% means the Windows directory, usually C:\WINDOWS\.

1) Start with a clean install of a 32-bit Windows OS (I used XP Pro). I also installed MS Visual Studio.

2) Create and save a listing of all files in the directory:

3) Install ArcView 3.x and any extensions you want. For these instructions, I also installed Network Analyst and Database Access. Also add the extensions you want which do not have their own installer, such as Compiled Table Tools.

4) Install the XP patch, even if you are installing on Vista or 7. Get the patch here:

5) If you want ArcView to already be registered, launch ArcView and register it now.

6) Find all of the files the installers have added. If you did not install the same extensions I installed, then some of these files I list below may not be installed, or additonal files may be installed. Just be methodical and careful when looking for which files were added.

6a) Because you started with a clean OS install, with no other ESRI apps, you can just grab everything in:
C:\Program Files\Common Files\ESRI\
C:\WINDOWS\Crystal\ (only if you installed Crystal Reports)

6b) Grab the ArcView 3.x fonts installed in %windir%\Fonts:


6c) Also grab these files, if they were installed:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\DAO\Dao2535.tlb
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\DAO\dao350.dll

6d) There may also some files installed in the %windir%\system32\ directory. Use the list you created in step 2 (above) to find the new files which where installed with ArcView. NOTE: You may not need to install/copy all of these files. The rule I used for all files was only install a file if it does not already exist on the target system.

7) Grab the registry settings the installers have added.

Grab everything in:

And also grab these keys:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\ArcView.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\ArcView Project\shell\open\command

Copy the files and registry settings to the target machine.

8a) Copy the files in these direcotries to the same directory on the target machine:
C:\WINDOWS\Crystal\ (only if you installed Crystal Reports)

8b) For these directories, copy the files:
from C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\DAO\
to C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\DAO\.

from %windir%\system32\
to %windir%\SysWOW64\

8c) Register these files, if they were copied, using “%windir%\syswow64\regsvr32″. For example:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\ESRI\Mo20.ocx
C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\ESRI\Shape20.dll

If you installed extensions which I did not install, there may be other files which need to be registered. Try the extension and if it does not work, look for DLL or OCX files that are specific to that extension and register the files.

8d) You cannot just copy font files to the fonts folder on the target machine. Instead, on XP, navigate to the Fonts directory on the target machine and from the file browser “File” menu choose “Install New Font…”. There should be a similar method in Vista and 7.

8e) To manually copy a registry key, find the key in Regedit. Right-click on the key and select Export to save the keys/values to a text file. Then, copy the file to the target machine and right-click on the file and select Merge.

IMPORTANT: You have to edit this registry key before Merging it on the target machine. Edit the file you Exported in any text editor.

change HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\ArcView.exe
to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\ArcView.exe

Good luck!


Related Post: Why ArcView 3.x is Still in Use

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.