Important account updates coming soon

With the upcoming March 2013 ArcGIS Online update, there are important use changes for ArcGIS Online personal accounts, affecting the way you can use them. You’ve likely received an email concerning these changes already, here’s a reminder of what will happen.

The account name will change from “personal account” to “public account” to reflect the nature of the changes. The ArcGIS Online public account will continue to be available at no cost, and is licensed for personal, noncommercial use only.

Under the updated Terms of Use, ArcGIS Online public account holders can no longer share items privately, or create private groups.  Public account holders can continue to create public groups and can share items publicly, or can keep items completely unshared for their own use and viewing. Note that existing private items and groups will not become public.

If you want to continue to create private groups and items for private collaboration and sharing, you can purchase an ArcGIS Online subscription, which also provides access to other ArcGIS Online features and services.

For answers to any questions or if you need help, e-mail Esri Customer Service at or call 1-888-377-4575.

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  1. gregory.hunter says:

    Will existing private items and groups still be accessible by group members?

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      Yes, if you are in a private group and there are privately shared items, you will still be able to view those items as you do today. However, nobody will be able to add any more private items to the group.

  2. I’ve an ARC-GIS online trial account and my organisation (University for Susatainable Development, Eberswalde) which holds an ESRI Campus license has invited my to their ARC-GIS online official organisational page.
    I’ve two questions:
    A: is it possibel to migrate my trial account and join it with this new account the university license manager has generated for me.
    B: since I was invited to the offical university account group of HNEE, I cannot open my ARCGIS online account any more, but I still can open my trial account ? I’ve already renewed my login and password several times, not successfully.

    What to do ?
    thanks a lot for support

    • nfazer says:

      maybe call esri tech support instead of posting on a blog?

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      (A) Many things are possible. You should be able to roll over your trial account to a full account. The best way to do this is to contact your local Esri distributor, who I assume to be Esri-Germany. You’ll be able to find contact information here if you don’t have it:

      (B) If you used an existing account and accepted an invitation to join the university organizational account, then your account is now part of the university organization and can’t be separated. You can create a new account at any time. If you have further questions you can contact Esri support at

  3. nfazer says:

    So as a “public” account user, I can’t create a private group for only myself and friends/family to share maps and data with them? The group and my shared information all has to be public and viewable by everyone? Stupidest thing ever. What difference does it make whether a public account holder creates a private or public group? Why is ESRI concerned about what kind of group I make?

    Just seems like yet another push to get people to buy something. I really don’t see how a private group created by a public account has any affect on ESRI whatsoever.

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      Starting with the March release (in about 2 weeks) you will no longer be able to create a private group or share items privately with only your friends and family. You can keep things entirely to yourself (not shared at all) or make them public. If you have a requirement for private sharing, then that will no longer be supported with a public account.

      • nfazer says:

        Thank you for copying/pasting the same thing from the post. That is my point – why did ESRI decide to do this, exactly? Can you offer any insight as to why this was done? I mean…ESRI is pushing this “GIS for Everyone” bit but yet keeps making changes to make it harder for someone to do basic things for free (like share maps and things in a private group). I’d like to know why ESRI is pushing one thing but then doing the opposite and pushing people to pay for everything?

        It was great to be able to make maps of our hunting camp, fishing holes, etc. and share them with each other in a private group. At least my existing group will stay, but I just don’t see why ESRI cares if I have a private group or not. I’m not paying $2,500 a year to have things private. That’s a joke if you think people will do that.

        • Bern Szukalski says:

          I understand your frustration – it was a decision that made sense in the context of our subscriptions for organizations, and our forward-looking plans. Public free accounts will still be available, and there are no plans for any other adjustments to their capabilities.

  4. kaymarjon says:

    If I were to obtain an ArcGIS Online subscription, will public users be able to view my private maps and apps and be invited to my private groups? Or do they have to have a subscription, also?

    • mcrow758 says:

      Good question. We really need an answer to this. I was told by an ESRI representative today that a public account holder COULD join a private group created by a subscription account holder. The online documentation seems to contradict this…

      • Bern Szukalski says:

        mcrow758 – see response to kaymarjon below. Public account holders cannot participate in private groups. Also as of the March 2013 update, public account holders cannot join public groups owned by organizational account holders, and vice versa. However, public items can be viewed, public groups can viewed, and items saved locally from account type to account type.

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      Hi kaymarjon – Public account user cannot view privately shared maps or apps, and cannot participate in private groups. To share privately and participate in private groups requires an organizational account.

  5. ariatevari says:

    Currently I publish feature services from ArcGIS Server 10 on Amazon EC2. I add them to a web map on My clients access and edit them through the Esri app for iOS and Android. Do my clients now need to purchase both ArcGIS for Server and a yearly ArcGIS Online subscription to do this. I am not using ArcGIS Online to publish services, just create web maps and authentication.

  6. clover_eng1 says:

    This change of policy is bull if you ask me. You had given us a very useful tool, only to severely handicap it and leave us high and dry.

    • sqril13 says:

      I agree with you – this was the best option out there and we were willing to pay for an organizational license if we could create one off users who could only view the web maps and apps PRIVATELY. It’s totaly bull to think that we’re going to put all of our stuff out there to the public. In many cases it would violate our user agreements.

      This is very frustrating. I tried a bunch of other services and nothing matches the easy of ESRI (despite still not being great) but a few have options for private sharing.

      I’ve been using ESRI for a long, long time and am becoming increasingly frustrated with the constant changes and the inane push to have everyone do everything online.

      • Bern Szukalski says:

        A new user role option will be added for organizational accounts starting with the upcoming December update that enables view-only access to private-to-organization items. This new role will be an addition to the current Administrator, Publisher, and User roles. The View role still does require an organizational account – but it represents a refinement that you might find useful.