Skip to main content

Geographic Information Systems at Yale: GIS Software Installation

Geographic Information Systems at Yale University encompasses a range of spatial applications and services. GIS is used by many disciplines at Yale University.

Yale Esri ArcGIS Installation Guides

This guide is intended to help standardize GIS Software installations on managed and faculty/staff/student computers across campus.  If you have questions, or would like to see an application added to the suggested GIS software configuration, please send an e-mail to the CSSSI GIS team at

GIS Software for Mac OS

ArcGIS Desktop is not available for Mac OS. However, Esri has published these recommendationsQGIS is an open-source desktop GIS alternative that runs natively on Mac OS, as well as on Linux.

In order to install ArcGIS in a Mac, you need to establish a windows environment. Yale ITS provides student support. To get rapid and targeted response, identify your local support contact at

Running a complex software package in an emulated windows environment places heavy demands on your computer's memory.  For reliable ArcGIS processing, we recommend using a computer with at least 8 GB of RAM (preferably with an i5 processor and at least 256 GB storage) and allocating 4GB of that to your virtual windows machine.  ITS can help you to determine if your computer meets these specifications and to configure your virtual machine appropriately.  

Once you have windows installed in your Mac, please follow the ArcGIS Installation Instructions provided above on this guide.

Alternatively, web-based mapping can be performed on a Mac environment using Yale ArcGIS Online

Planning to use GIS Abroad?

The standard installation of the Yale ArcGIS software requires that you are on campus to use the software. This is due to the fact that the default license is a concurrent use license that needs to connect to the on-campus license server. Our installation instructions outlines how to borrow a license, this step cancels the need for you to connect to the Yale license server every time you use ArcGIS.It is highly recommended to borrow the license as soon as you install ArcGIS

Please DO NOT borrow a license while connected to the Yale University Network using VPN. Your system IP address will change every time you connect via VPN, causing the licensing access to fail.

If you plan to use ArcGIS away from Yale and will not be able to visit campus and borrow the license before your departure, please contact for a consultation about alternative licensing options. 

If you are already out of the country, and are expericing issues to connect to ArcGIS, please refer to our  Yale GIS FAQs for the latest solution on this issue.

ANNOUNCEMENT: ArcGIS License Server under Maintenance

Sept 19, 2018

This e-mail was sent to GIS-L members and all account holders of Yale ArcGIS Online:

Dear ArcGIS for Desktop users,

I want to give you an update of status of the ArcGIS license server. A testing instance has been working impeccably since many days ago. However, the “real” server (Cooke)  is working properly to authorize the ArcGIS for Desktop licenses, but it is NOT fully functional to borrow the license for 365 days.

As now, there are two scenarios:

  • Those who have authorizations without borrowing, might see their license “availability” has been extended to Sept 30, 2019. That is the case for yale computers labs. Computers under this group are OK, and should not experience any license disruption on Sept 20, 2018.
  • Those who have borrowed a license should still have the expiration as Sept 20, 2018. Computers under this group are prone to license disruption, and we want to resolve the server issues on time, so you can take the necessary steps to re-authorize your license and extend your expiration date until Sept 2019.

Library IT is working around the clock to resolve the issues in Cooke. We definitively have a backup plan in case Cooke does not work properly for the borrowing part. We ask your cooperation to keep an eye for upcoming updates, and to plan spending time tomorrow (or next time you need to use ArcGIS for Desktop) to do the necessary updates on your machine.

We are waiting for Esri tech support to assist us tomorrow, and hopefully we will have good news Thursday morning.  

WHAT: ArcGIS license server updates not completed
NEXT STEP: Wait for my e-mail tomorrow (Thursday 9/20), we will send an update ASAP
DEADLINE: License will expire tomorrow (Thursday 9/20) at midnight. Before then, I will send instructions on how to authorize your license with Cooke or with the new (already functional) server (Plan B, which is already working).

I apologize for the technical issues. Please send your technical and GIS inquiries to


Suggested GIS (and related) Software Download Links (Under Construction)

ArcGIS Server Whitepapers