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iNat bulk upload instructions

Which method is for me?

If you have a bunch of photos to upload, and they have location information embedded in the photo, then you have a few options.

  1. If they're on your phone, you can use our app (at the time of writing our app doesn't yet support reading the location information from photos, but it will)
  2. Use the "regular" upload method for iNat via their website

If you have observations that do not have a photo, or do have a photo but the photo does not have location information embedded in it, then the CSV based bulk upload if the best choice.

Steps common to both methods

  1. make sure you're signed into iNat (or our sandbox copy of iNat)

  2. go to the project page on iNat. We're going to use our sandbox iNat to play with and the project page is You can also find the project page in other ways. If you're a member of the project, you can find it in your list of projects under the Community menu:

    You can also find it by going to the Projects page (accessed via the Community menu) and searching for wild orchid or similar.

  3. our iNat project is open so anyone, member or not, can add observations to it using our app. That doesn't make you a member though so for these guides, you need to be a member of the project mainly so the project is selectable from the list of projects. If you haven't already joined the project, click the link to join the project in the top right of the project page:

Bulk uploading photos (with location information) via iNat's website

This is what iNat is built for and is the main method that most people who upload sightings via the website will use. The only variation from the official help page is that you need to remember to add the observation to our WOW project and supply the observation fields.

  1. follow the common steps above

  2. click the green upload button at the top

  3. add your photos but clicking the button or dragging and dropping them onto the page

  4. if you have multiple photos per observation, you can merge them by dragging one photo and dropping it on the top of another photo. You'll then have a single observation with two photos

  5. click the select all check box at the top of the page

  6. now we'll set the location privacy for all the observations at once using the dropdown on the left of the page. Set them to Location is obscured.

  7. with everything still selected, we'll add them to our project. Again, on the left of the page, expand the Projects twisty thing and select our project (search for it if it's not already suggested):

  8. with everything still selected (or select a subset by control control or shift and clicking on observation to add them to the selection), we can fill in the common observation fields that apply to all of the observations, like perhaps surrounding land use or soil type.

    To add a field, first expand the Fields twisty in the left menu, then find a field to add (red arrow). Once you've selected the value for the field, remember to click Add (purple arrow) and then it should show up as added (blue arrow). Repeat for as many fields as you need

  9. observations will have fields that are different for each observation. In this step, select each observation one at a time and use the same method of adding fields, as used above, to add all the fields you need to each observation.

  10. the last step is to fill out any other information that iNat requires, for example the species name. Select each observation, one at a time, and go through the menus on the left to add any required information.

  11. now we're ready to upload. Click the green Submit N observations button (top right) to upload everything

Bulk uploading CSV data

In this method, we'll bulk upload a CSV of observation data. Then, if you have photos to add, we'll attach them after the upload.

  1. follow the common steps

  2. download the template using the provided link from the project page:

    A less obvious way to download the template is to open the upload page, select the More Import Options menu and choose CSV. Then, select the project you want to bulk import observations for and use the Download template link (burried in the grey text above the project selector) to get the template.

  3. fill out the template with all your data. Make sure the file is still saved as a CSV. If you change the format to .xls, .xlsx, .ods, etc then things probably won't go well. Don't add any kind of formatting to the file (colours, fonts, etc). It's just plain text.

  4. go back to the project page

  5. click the bulk uploader link

  6. select our project from the Add to project list

  7. select your filled in CSV as the file to upload. See an example filled in CSV file

  8. click upload

  9. look for the (probably not as obvious as it should be) message that confirms the file will be processed by the server. If you don't get this message, the message you do have should tell you what went wrong:

  10. the file will be processed in the background by the server. Once it has processed the file, it will send you an email. You'll always receive an email, for success or failure. If there are problems, it will tell you and you'll need to fix them and try again. Expect to wait a few minutes for the email. If the server is busy or you have a lot of records, it will take longer to process.

  11. Note by Tom: if you need to re-upload the CSV because of failures, you may need to rename the file. I can't tell if the server refuses to re-process identical files (same name and same content) that I've been using for testing or if it only looks at the name. Renaming will make sure this doesn't happen though.

  12. now you have everything uploaded successfully, we can attach photos to the observations. From the menu in the top right, go to Edit observations

  13. swap to batch edit mode using the button

  14. select the observations you wish to add photos to. You might be lucky and can use the Today filter if that matches what you wish to do. Then click the Edit selected button to jump to the edit page:

  15. this page make it easy to edit all the selected observations. For each observation, expand the Photos twisty and attach your photos

  16. press Save all at the bottom and you're done.

  17. if you did all this on our sandbox iNat, make sure you keep your CSV so you can upload it to the real iNat, once we're created our project on there.

species guess Date Description Location Latitude / y coord / northing Longitude / x coord / easting Tags Geoprivacy WOW Orchid type* WOW Is located in a layer of leaf litter?* WOW Landform element* WOW Surrounding land use* WOW Sign of disturbance and threats WOW Host tree species WOW Epiphyte height (cm) WOW Altitude metres WOW Soil texture WOW Vegetation community notes WOW Phenology WOW Floral visitors observed WOW Damaged flowers WOW Deheaded flowers WOW Count of individuals recorded WOW Accuracy of count WOW Approx area searched (m²)
Three-toothed Puffer 2019-12-01T14:40:33 some notes, blah -34.9752415 138.6288651 Obscured Terrestrial Yes Gully Conservation and natural environments Sand 2x2 (4m²)
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