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MapInfo Monday: Renaming Windows, Layers, and Tables

  • 1.  MapInfo Monday: Renaming Windows, Layers, and Tables

    Posted 10-24-2022 07:17
    Happy #MapInfoMonday!

    Today we will look at how you can give your elements in MapInfo Pro more friendly names​.

    If you are like me or any other user of MapInfo Pro, chances are that you work with multiple map windows, many tables, and just as many or more layers. There's also a good chance that many of your tables do not always have very friendly names. Often they may contain underscores or the words making up the table name or combined without spaces between the words. The table names can also hold abbreviations.

    As the GIS analyst or professional user of MapInfo Pro, we of course know what these sometimes strange-looking table names and window names refer to. But if we share an analysis result with other people from our organization or outside of our organization, this may not be the case. This is especially a problem if we share the result in the form of a layered PDF document where the layer structure is transferred to the PDF document. But it could also be the case if we share a workspace with other users in our organization via MapInfo Pro Viewer.

    In these cases, and probably other cases too, it can be worthwhile considering the names of the elements in MapInfo Pro.

    And you can control how you name your elements. Let's look at some of the options.


    A table typically refers to a native MapInfo table that consists of a number of files stored on your disk or server. These file names must meet the conditions that Windows sets for file names but they should also meet the conditions that MapInfo Pro sets for a table name.

    A table in MapInfo Pro can not be longer than 30 characters. If the file name is longer than this, MapInfo Pro will only show the first 30 characters. If the file name holds spaces, these will be changed to underscores (_) in MapInfo Pro, and finally, if the file name starts with a number, MapInfo Pro will add an underscore in front of the table name.

    Personally, I prefer not to use underscores in my filename even though MapInfo Pro will replace these with an underscore when MapInfo Pro opens the table.

    If you want to rename an existing table, you can right-click this table in the Table List and from here use Rename Table to give it a different name.

    But, a bit of warning: if the table you are renaming is being used in other workspaces they can no longer locate this table automatically and you will have to point to the renamed table when you open these workspaces.

    When you rename a table, you can change its name or you can change its name and folder. MapInfo Pro will not allow you to move the table to a new folder without also changing the name of the table.


    You can also rename the layers in a map, or you can give them a friendly name.

    Right-click on the layer in the Layer List and select Rename or simply select the layer and hit F2. This will enable you to enter a new name for the layer.

    A friendly name for a layer does not have to meet all the rules of a table name. You can use spaces and special characters. This gives you the freedom to give the layer a description that better explains what it contains or shows.

    Also, note that you can also rename your thematic layers. Instead of having a layer called "Ind. Value with SIC8_DESCRIPTION", you can rename it to "WPPOI Landmark Types".

    If you are exporting your map to a layered PDF document, in many cases giving your layers a friendly name is sufficient as this is what the users of the PDF document will see.

    If you have the tool WindowHelper installed, you get some additional options for renaming layers. If you don't have WindowHelper installed, you can install it from the MapInfo Marketplace.

    From the layer context menu, you can access Advanced Rename

    The Advanced Layer Rename dialog has some additional capabilities compared to the standard rename option. By default, it removes underscores from the name shown in the Friendly Name field which quickly helps you fix one obvious problem with your layer names. If the table has a description stored in the metadata section of the tab file, this description will be shown in the dialog.

    The dialog also allows you to save the friendly name to the metadata section of the tab file for reuse later, and it can rename the table in any map window where the layer is found.

    In the context menu of the map, WindowHelper has added an option to Rename Multiple Layers.

    From the dialog Rename Multiple Layers, you can control which layers you want to rename and how.

    By default, this feature renames all layers by using the file name of the table and by removing potential underscores from this name. This also means the potential truncated names will be shown in their full length for the layers.

    The options allow you to Skip Layers with Friendly Names, to Use Existing Table Descriptions, and to Save the name as the default friendly name in the metadata section of the tab file.

    There are two preferences that control friendly names for layers. One controls whether to Show Friendly Names at all and the other controls if MapInfo Pro should Use the Description Field for a Friendly Name automatically. I would suggest checking both these options if you haven't already. You find these under Options, Window, Layers on the Backstage.


    By default, a window gets its name from the content in the window. A map window takes its name from the first few layers. A browser window uses the name of the table shown in the browser. And a layout window is by default just called Layout.

    But you can also control this yourself.

    You can rename all window types from the Window List. Select a window and hit F2, or right-click and use Rename. This will bring up the Rename Window dialog. Type in your preferred name, and hit OK to rename the window.

    You can also rename map windows from the Layer List. Select the map element and hit F2, or right-click and use Rename.
    Renaming your windows makes it easier to find your way around many windows. If you print a window to a PDF document, the name of the PDF file will match the name of the window by default.

    Hopefully, this gave you some ideas on how to make your output easier to understand for your audience, and maybe even for yourself too.

    Peter Horsbøll Møller
    Principal Presales Consultant | Distinguished Engineer
    Precisely | Trust in Data