Options files – what are they?

Do you need greater control on the use of certain licenses for certain groups or individuals? If so, then using an options file could be the answer.

An options file is a simple text file that gives the license administrator within an organisation the ability to control user access to licenses authorized on the License Manager. Put simply, an options file is a register of individuals (or groups of individuals), followed by a list of parameters that apply to them (e.g. Reserve, Exclude etc).

Creating an Options File

Firstly, it is worth noting that there are a number of special characters and rules that apply to options files:

  • Everything in an options file is case sensitive (including names, features and command syntax)
  • Options files are limited to 4000 lines (which should be plenty!)
  • The \ character is also a line continuation character
  • The # character denotes a comment line (i.e. it will not be read as part of the options file)

Secondly, you will need to decide who the options file is going to control, whether this is an individual or a group of individuals:

  • USER – you will not need to define these individually at the start of the options file. Users can be identified by their username, hostname, display or IP Address.
  • GROUP – you will need to define the groups at the start of your options file for use with further commands later on. To define a group you should use the following syntax:


Once you have defined your groups (if you have any) you may then begin to define your required controls for these groups. This is done by using further syntax commands:

  • INCLUDE – allows the user or group access to a particular feature
  • EXCLUDE – denies a user or group access to a particular feature
  • MAX – limits the use of a particular feature to a user or group
  • RESERVE – reserves feature licenses for a specific user or group

Further commands may be found under the documentation listed in the Related Links section.

TIP: Do not mix command types as they may lead to unexpected behaviour and certain commands not to be read. When using multiple commands in an options file, you should group them together (i.e. keep all of the RESERVE commands together, and then have a group of MAX commands etc).

In order to use these commands you will also need to know the feature name to which the command is going to be applied. These are not the standard names, but instead use the Internal Feature name. These can be found by:

  • Opening the License Server Administrator 10.2
  • Select Availability
  • Double click on the required product, and the Internal Feature name will be displayed at the bottom of the window

For example, you may wish to reserve 4 Desktop Standard (ArcEditor) licenses for the GIS group (so that they always have 4 available to them), but also wish to limit them to these 4 licenses (so they do not use the other license available to the rest of the organisation):




Once you have created your options file for the selected features, users and groups, you will then need to apply it to the License Manager to administer it. To do this:

  • Save the file as ARCGIS.opt
  • Save ARCGIS.opt to the License Manager install directory (default is C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\License10.2\bin)
  • Open the service.txt file (default location is C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\License10.2\bin)
  • Add the file path of the ARCGIS.opt file to the VENDOR line of the service.txt file:

VENDOR ARCGIS options="C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\License10.2\bin\ARCGIS.opt"

  • Open License Server Administrator 10.2
  • Select Start/ Stop License Service and select Stop and then Start
  • Check that the Options file has been read correctly by performing a Status Inquiry (see below link on how to do this)