13 Preferences to check and configure in MapInfo Pro

Products affected: MapInfo Pro™
MapInfo Pro has a wide variety of preferences that control how the software behaves, how it calculates and how it displays elements. This article provides an overview of the most important of these settings. There are more settings to tweak, but these are some common preferences.

Accessing the preferences

Finding the preferences. In the 64 bit versions of MapInfo Pro, the preferences are found on the Backstage area via the PRO tab then Options.

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For 32 bit versions of MapInfo Pro, the Preferences can be found under Options > Preferences.
Please note that many of the Preferences mentioned aren't valid for the 32 bit versions of MapInfo Pro.

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. Units

Under the Systems Settings in the top left corner, specify the preferred units for displaying area and length.
These units will be applied to new map windows and used as a default unit when calculating for instance areas via SQL.

Controling the paper units which will control the units in new layout windows.

Out of the box, MapInfo Pro comes with American units. This can be changed if normally using, say centimeters, meters and hectares or maybe square meters.
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2. New tables

Still under System Settings but in the lower right corner, find the New Tables options. These settings control how new tables by default will be created. Select between the Standard MapInfo Table format and the new Extended MapInfo Table format. The benefit of the later is that it isn't limited to 2GB file sizes like the standard MapInfo Table format is, and it supports Unicode.

Using the classic MapInfo Table format or the new Extended MapInfo Table format, would depend on the specific use case:
MapInfo Table format:
  • Having clients or co-workers still using the 32 bit version
  • Not having very big datasets
Extended MapInfo Table format:
  • Having very big datasets, files larger than 2GB
  • Working with data from all over the World, say India, Russia, China, Japan - Unicode would be very helpful

3. Default Object Styles

In the Style Preferences default styles for new objects when adding new features to a layer/table can be specified. Assigning specific Insert Styles for individual layers which will be used when adding a record to a specific layer.

As defaults, the styles are all black & white. 

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4. Highlight Control

The Styles Preferences also can specify a certain style to be used on selected features. Selected features will be shown with these styles/colors in the map window.

Make sure to set a Translucency for the highlighted features. This makes it possible to see when two identical features have been selected. If translucency is not specified, the highlighting of the second will remove the highlighting of the first and seeing the two selected features will not be possible. 

5. File Locations

Using the Directory Preferences the location of a number of specific file types can be specified. A list of different "file types" that can be specified and locations for such as Tables, Workspaces, SQL Queries and Images. Either note where files are stored for easy access, or change the locations to a familiar location.

Change the Initial Directories to a location to store data. 
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These default file locations will be used for example when opening tables and workspaces or when saving images.
In the left side of the dialog, switch between MapInfo locations to make it easier to switch between specific file locations.

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6. Performance Settings

For the Object Processing tools that use multi-threading Concurrency Level can be set to influence how many of the cores of the computer will use. It goes from 1 core via 25% of the cores, 50% of the cores, 75% of the cores to all of the available cores. If you set it to Full, it will use all the cores available the computer might be hard to work with outside of MapInfo Pro when MapInfo Pro is using these Object Processing tools.

The recommended setting is to either Aggressive or Intermediate. It can be set to full if requiring the processing speed and don't have to use the computer while MapInfo Pro is processing data.

The Smart Indexing option allows MapInfo Pro to evaluate if it's faster to drop the column index before doing certain table update statements and then create the column index again afterwards. In certain cases this can cut the processing time substantial.

It's recommended to set Smart Indexing to Auto.

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7. Managing Ribbon Tab Switching

MapInfo Pro has been built to be context aware. This means that it will try to reflect the current context, for example the currently active window, in the ribbon. Some users find this very helpful where other users find it annoying. You can change the Ribbon Tab Switching to None to turn off the switching of tabs.

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8. Ribbon and Tool windows state

By default MapInfo Pro will save the current state of the ribbon and the tool windows when shutting down MapInfo Pro. But sometimes, it  may be better not to save these changes by default, but save them only for certain changes that need to be kept. This behavior can be controlled via the Application Settings dialog shown above in preference #7.

It is suggested to have the states loaded on startup and save on exit for a beginning. Experiment with these settings to suit an individual work flow.

9. Auto save workspace

With the 64 bit releases of MapInfo Pro, there have been some changes to the way MapInfo Pro works with workspaces - or projects as they might be called in other software products. MapInfo Pro now has the concept of a current workspace. The Workspace Preferences can be used to take better advantage of this concept. One of these concepts is the option to Auto Save Workspace every x minutes. In this way MapInfo Pro will automatically save changes to the workspace while working.

it is recommend that to enable the Backup On Save to keep a backup when overwriting your current workspace file.
For Auto Save Workspace, the recommendation is to turn it on in specific situations where a lot of work would be saved to the workspace, such as moving labels and changing layer settings.

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10. Prompt to save workspace

With the introduction of the Current Workspace concept, MapInfo Pro will prompt more aggressively for saving a workspace for example when shutting down MapInfo Pro. To manage this prompting a new setting was added that can be turned off, or only prompt when  workspace has been opened. It can also be set to prompt every time.

The setting to control this behavior is also found in the Workspace Preferences shown above.

Most users prefer to have it turned on, but only when a workspace is open.

11. Default Coordinate Systems

Set the default projection/default coordinate system for new tables, which is used whenever creating a new table. The default projection is pre-selected but can always be changed.

A projection for the session can be specified. This is used when extracting coordinates from spatial features.

It is recommend to set both to the typical coordinate system used in a country/state/area.

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12. Calculate distance/area method

In the same place as above, set whether to prefer MapInfo Pro to use Spherical or Cartesian distance and area calculation.
  • For projected data Cartesian calculations gives the best result.
  • For lat/Long data Spherical is the only option.

​13. Browser Alternating Row Color

For browser windows, specify the preferred Alternating Row Color.

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Setting it to a color different than white, makes it easier to follow the rows in the browser window as shown below.

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UPDATED:  June 24, 2019