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Converting KMZ to Shapefile

Beginner guide to transforming KMZ to Shapefiles

One common conversion task involves transforming Keyhole Markup Language Zipped (KMZ) files into Shapefiles (SHP). KMZ files, commonly used in Google Earth, are compressed files containing placemarks, images, polygons, 3D models, and more. On the other hand, Shapefiles, a popular format in desktop GIS software like ArcGIS and QGIS, are more simplistic, and primarily used to store the location, shape, and attributes of geographic features.

Quickmaptools.com is by far the easiest way to convert between KMZ and Shapefiles online. But if you are looking for desktop options continue reading!

While this conversion might seem straightforward, it’s not without its challenges. From preserving complex data and attribute information to handling multiple layers and ensuring software compatibility, there’s a lot to consider.

In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the process of converting KMZ files to Shapefiles using different tools, including ArcGIS Pro and GDAL. We’ll also delve into the crucial considerations to keep in mind during the conversion process to ensure data integrity and usability. Whether your KMZ file contains simple point data, complex polygons, lines, or even raster images, we’ve got you covered.

Converting KMZ to KML

KMZ files are essentially zipped KML files. You can convert KMZ to KML by simply unzipping the KMZ file. This can be done with any standard unzipping tool.

Convert KML to SHP in QGIS

New to QGIS? listen to this podcast episode!

Here’s how you can do it in QGIS:

  • Open QGIS and click on Layer > Add Layer > Add Vector Layer.
  • In the Source panel, click on the ... button next to Vector Dataset(s).
  • Navigate to your KML file, select it, and click Open.
  • Click Add in the Data Source Manager window. Your KML file will be added as a layer to QGIS.
  • To convert the KML layer to SHP, click on Layer > Save As....
  • In the Save Vector Layer as... window, select ESRI Shapefile from the Format dropdown menu.
  • Click on the ... button next to Save as, navigate to where you want to save your SHP file, enter a name for the file, and click Save.
  • Click OK in the Save Vector Layer as... window. Your KML file will be saved as a SHP file.

Converting KMZ to Shapefile in ArcGIS Pro

Sure, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to convert KMZ to Shapefile using ArcGIS Pro:

  1. Open ArcGIS Pro: Start by launching the ArcGIS Pro application on your computer.
  2. Create or Open a Project: You can either create a new project or open an existing one where you want to work with the KMZ file.
  3. Add the KMZ Data:
  • Go to the Insert tab on the top menu, click on Add Data dropdown and select Data.
  • In the Add Data window, navigate to the location of your KMZ file, select it, and click OK. The KMZ file will be added to your project.
  1. Convert KMZ to Layer:
  • In the Analysis tab, click on Tools.
  • In the Geoprocessing pane that opens, search for KML To Layer tool.
  • In the KML To Layer tool, set the Input KML File to your KMZ file and specify the Output Location where you want the output layer to be saved. Click Run.
  1. Convert Layer to Shapefile:
  • In the Geoprocessing pane, search for Feature To Point tool.
  • In the Feature To Point tool, set the Input Features to the layer you just created and specify the Output Feature Class as your desired output SHP file location. Click Run.
  1. Check the Result: Navigate to the location where you saved your output SHP file. You should see your SHP file there. You can also add it to your ArcGIS Pro project to view it.

If your KMZ file contains polygons, lines, or raster data

You can still convert it to a Shapefile or a raster format using ArcGIS Pro. The process is similar to the one described above, but you’ll use different tools for the conversion. Here’s how:

  1. Open ArcGIS Pro: Start by launching the ArcGIS Pro application on your computer.
  2. Create or Open a Project: You can either create a new project or open an existing one where you want to work with the KMZ file.
  3. Add the KMZ Data:
  • Go to the Insert tab on the top menu, click on Add Data dropdown and select Data.
  • In the Add Data window, navigate to the location of your KMZ file, select it, and click OK. The KMZ file will be added to your project.
  1. Convert KMZ to Layer:
  • In the Analysis tab, click on Tools.
  • In the Geoprocessing pane that opens, search for KML To Layer tool.
  • In the KML To Layer tool, set the Input KML File to your KMZ file and specify the Output Location where you want the output layer to be saved. Click Run.
  1. Convert Layer to Shapefile or Raster:
  • If your KMZ file contains polygons or lines, you can use the Feature To Polygon or Feature To Line tools respectively, instead of the Feature To Point tool. The process is the same: set the Input Features to the layer you just created and specify the Output Feature Class as your desired output SHP file location. Click Run.
  • If your KMZ file contains raster data, you can use the Copy Raster tool. Set the Input Raster to the raster layer you just created and specify the Output Raster Dataset as your desired output raster file location. Click Run.
  1. Check the Result: Navigate to the location where you saved your output SHP or raster file. You should see your file there. You can also add it to your ArcGIS Pro project to view it.

Convert KMZ to Shapefile using GDAL

Not sure what GDAL is? Listen to this podcast episode!

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to convert KMZ to Shapefile using GDAL:

  1. Install GDAL: If you haven’t installed GDAL, you can download it from the official GDAL website. Follow the instructions provided for your specific operating system.
  2. Convert KMZ to KML: KMZ files are zipped KML files. You can convert KMZ to KML by simply unzipping the KMZ file. This can be done with any standard unzipping tool.
  3. Open Command Line or Terminal: Open your command line interface (CMD on Windows, Terminal on MacOS or Linux).
  4. Navigate to the Directory: Use the cd command to navigate to the directory where your KML file is located.
  5. Convert KML to Shapefile: Use the ogr2ogr command to convert the KML file to a Shapefile. The basic syntax is: ogr2ogr -f "ESRI Shapefile" output.shp input.kml Replace output.shp with the name you want for your output Shapefile, and replace input.kml with the name of your input KML file. Press Enter to run the command.
  6. Check the Result: Navigate to the location where you saved your output SHP file. You should see your SHP file there.

If the KMZ file contains a raster image

If the KMZ file contains a raster image, you can use GDAL to extract the raster image and convert it to a more common raster format like GeoTIFF. Here’s how:

  1. Install GDAL: If you haven’t installed GDAL, you can download it from the official GDAL website. Follow the instructions provided for your specific operating system.
  2. Unzip the KMZ file: KMZ files are zipped KML files. You can convert KMZ to KML by simply unzipping the KMZ file. This can be done with any standard unzipping tool. When you unzip the KMZ file, you should see a KML file and a directory of assets which may contain your raster image(s).
  3. Open Command Line or Terminal: Open your command line interface (CMD on Windows, Terminal on MacOS or Linux).
  4. Navigate to the Directory: Use the cd command to navigate to the directory where your unzipped KMZ (now KML and associated files) are located.
  5. Identify the Raster File: Look in the unzipped files for the raster image. It could be in a variety of formats, including .jpg, .tif, .png, etc.
  6. Convert the Raster File to GeoTIFF: Use the gdal_translate command to convert the raster file to GeoTIFF. The basic syntax is: gdal_translate -of GTiff input.jpg output.tif Replace input.jpg with the name of your input raster file and output.tif with the name you want for your output GeoTIFF file. Press Enter to run the command.
  7. Check the Result: Navigate to the location where you saved your output GeoTIFF file. You should see your file there.

Things you should know about converting KMZ to Shapefiles

When converting between KMZ and Shapefiles, there are several important considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Data Loss: Converting between different file formats can sometimes result in data loss, especially when going from a more complex format (like KMZ) to a simpler one (like Shapefile). For example, KMZ files can contain raster images, 3D models, and other complex data types that cannot be represented in a Shapefile.
  2. Attribute Information: KMZ files can contain attribute information for each feature. When converting to Shapefile, make sure that this attribute information is preserved. Some conversion tools might not carry over this information by default.
  3. Coordinate Systems: KMZ files use the WGS84 coordinate system. When converting to Shapefile, you might need to reproject the data to match the coordinate system of your other data. Be aware of this potential step in your workflow.
  4. Multiple Layers: KMZ files can contain multiple layers, but a Shapefile represents a single layer. If your KMZ file contains multiple layers, you will need to create a separate Shapefile for each layer.
  5. File Size: Shapefiles can be larger in size than KMZ files. If storage or sharing of the files is a concern, this could be a factor to consider.
  6. Software Compatibility: Not all GIS software handles KMZ and Shapefiles in the same way. Some software might have issues with certain features of KMZ files, or might not support Shapefiles fully. Always check the compatibility of your software with the file formats you are using.
  7. Privacy and Security: KMZ files can be easily viewed in Google Earth and shared. If your data is sensitive, consider this when sharing or converting KMZ files.
  8. Zipped Files: KMZ files are zipped KML files. If you’re having trouble converting a KMZ file, try unzipping it first and then converting the KML file.

Remember, the best method for conversion depends on your specific needs, including the complexity of your data, the software you have access to, and your comfort level with different types of tools.

About the Author
I'm Daniel O'Donohue, the voice and creator behind The MapScaping Podcast ( A podcast for the geospatial community ). With a professional background as a geospatial specialist, I've spent years harnessing the power of spatial to unravel the complexities of our world, one layer at a time.

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