We can help UMN students, faculty, and staff access and license several geospatial software packages. Not sure where to get started? Our Help desk provides assistance with everything from identifying the appropriate software for your work to installing it on your computer.

ArcGIS Desktop

For personal computers

Currently enrolled students and working faculty/staff may obtain a free, one-year ArcGIS Desktop edition for their personal computers. Please email the U-Spatial help desk for an authorization code then refer to these instructions.

For University-owned computers

See the ArcGIS page on the Information Technology website for software licensing information. Once you, your department, or your college has obtained a license, download your software via by mounting the network file location below. Windows users must go to the Start menu, search, and paste the path below.


Note for Macintosh users

ArcGIS is a window-only program. Mac users will need to either install Bootcamp or create a virtual machine (such as VirtualBox, Parallels, or VMWare Fusion) and install Windows in order to use ArcGIS.

ArcGIS Online

Esri ArcGIS Online is a web mapping platform that allows you to easily create, edit, analyze, share and publish geospatial data. To read about all that ArcGIS Online has to offer, check out its official website. The University of Minnesota has a subscription to ArcGIS Online which allows students, faculty and staff to use it in their learning, research, and outreach activities.

Please note: U-Spatial provides free training that helps you quickly develop your ArcGIS Online skills. Please see our training page for details and registration information.

Activate your ArcGIS Online account

Visit the University of Minnesota organization on ArcGIS Online, click "Sign In" on the up left corner, choose "Using your UMN X.500 Account" and start using!

Business Analyst Online

Esri Business Analyst Online (BAO) is an online market analysis platform utilizing a wide range of demographic, census, consumer spending, and business data. You can find details on BAO's functionality on the Esri wesbite. In the spring of 2014, U-Spatial sponsored a Brown Bag talk on BAO (video).

BAO is included in the University's ArcGIS Online subscription. However, use of BAO can use a large number of credits. If you have a large number of address to geocode (over 500) or are planning on performing analysis on a large scale, please contact the help desk to learn about Business Analyst Desktop; this is a more powerful version of Business Analyst available for your use.

Setup your account

  1. Activate your ArcGIS Online account (follow the instruction in previous section).
  2. Please email U-Spatial Helpdesk ( from your University email account, or be sure to include your Internet ID (X.500).
  3. Once you are notified that your account has been set up, go to UMN's BAO, choose to sign in with an Enterprise Account, type "umn" in the URL and then click sign in "Using your UMN X.500 Account" and have fun!

Intergraph: GeoMedia Pro and ERDAS Imagine

For a free, one-year student version of either GeoMedia or ERDAS Imagine (2015 or 2016) contact the U-Spatial help desk ( for an authorization code, and then refer to these instructions for the 2015 version of Geomedia and ERDAS and refer to these instructions for the 2016 version of ERDAS.


The University has a site license giving access to the full LAStools suite for academic and research use. Contact the Help Desk ( for more information.

Open-Source GIS (OSGeo)

GIS and remote sensing are rich with open source applications. A good place to start exploring the open source options is OSGeo, your open source compass.

Software on Campus

The following section lists the some of the more common GIS software resources available. The University of Minnesota maintains many of these on lab computers throughout campus.

You can find a more complete listing of GIS products on Wikipedia. This OS-GIS matrix provides a comparison of both open-source and proprietary desktop GIS software.