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Importing a CSV File into Tap Forms

A few people have asked me how to import their CSV files into Tap Forms. Here's a quick guide to get you going in the right direction.

Before you transfer your file to Tap Forms, make sure your CSV file has the following properties:

  1. Has a .csv file extension (lowercase .csv in version 1.6).
  2. Encoding matches encoding of set in the Import & Export Settings screen.
  3. Includes a header row defining the field names and types (optional) you would like to have in your form.
  4. If you're importing dates, your import data format should be set correctly in the Import & Export Settings screen.

You can build a header row such as this (including a couple of sample records):

Movie Name<text>,Release Date<date>,Is Great Movie<check_mark>
The Dark Knight,07/18/2008,Y
The English Patient,11/22/1996,N

Valid Field Types are:

  • text
  • number
  • date
  • time
  • check_mark
  • contact
  • web_site
  • note
  • phone (should be all digits without formatting)

The field type in the header row of your CSV file must match exactly one of the field types above. If the field type doesn't match or is unspecified, text will be used instead.

If you define your header row on your PC to be the field names that you'd like to see in Tap Forms and also give them a field type, then Tap Forms will do most of the work for you. The only thing you need to do on the iPhone itself is create a new form, give it a name and pick an icon.

On the Edit Form screen you'll see an action menu icon (a little arrow in the top-right corner). Tap that and then you'll see "Import Records". Selecting your .csv file will then bring you to the Import screen. You'll see how many rows there are (less the first header row), the file size, and a big green Import button. Tap that and Tap Forms will auto-create the fields for you and import the records.

155 Responses to “Importing a CSV File into Tap Forms”

  1. wayne alexander says:

    BENTO USERS, NOVICE, BEGINNERS (part 4 from above)

    well that was mightily difficult (After 2 days solid -20 hours)

    I’ve finally done it but i’m exhausted.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    I Put a semi-colon ; in the searchbox and it found any record with a ; in it – delete all semi colons found (Bento can only search 1 library/folder)

    Then export from bento (right click on a library/folder & export as a ; csv = semi-colon csv
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Tapforms>tools>import settings>
    file encoding:automatic date:yyyy/mm/dd time format:HH:mm column: semi-colon

    then get file into taprooms by either tapform>files>click on dropbox icon or by FTP here

    If the file is in correct format then data should be displayed on iphone when clicking on file (its in the “files” list)

    If ok so far….then go to my part 5 below

  2. Brendan says:

    Hello Wayne,

    Oh my. That’s a bit of a runaround for creating a form from a CSV file. The easiest and quickest way is to go to the Files area where your CSV file is, then tap on the action button next to the file name. Then tap “Import Records”. Tap Forms will auto-create the form for you (using the name from the CSV file without the file extension) and import the records (after you press the Import button).

    That’s all there is to it!



  3. wayne alexander says:

    brendan your right

    was it just as simple as that.

    Tapforms is a lovely app but so unintuitive……..

    Can you remove 108 above, that’s all wrong…….

    [BD: Wayne, I’ve removed your comment above as per your request so that it doesn’t confuse other users]

  4. wayne alexander says:

    import only appeared after i was successful with the formatting of a file

    upto that point all my files that had reached the files folder were incompatible and so import was never shown (it shows only view file, email file or upload to dropbox)

    I never bothered to look there again, because it appeared to me that there were NO import options from there and only import options from “forms” folder. and this was 8 hours later so i felt i knew the app inside out

    its all making sense to me now

    as a SUGGESTION – Can the “import file” option appear always even if the file wont actually import (do you see what im saying)

    What a torrid/frustrating time ive had

    ah well

    thanks brendan

    • Brendan says:

      Hi Wayne,

      One thing to note, you need to have either a .csv or .txt file extension for the Import Records function to show up. That’s probably where you got tripped up. Sorry about that.


      • Mark says:

        Dear Brendan,
        I am suffering for the csv file import to Tap forms. I simply the data as listed below and can import it to TAP form by dropbox or email on my Ipad. However only 1 or 2 data import successfully and others disappear. How can I could find the bugs? or where the wrong setting from my Ipad?
        Thanks a lot.


        • Brendan says:

          Hi Mark,

          What File Encoding settings are you using? And what is the File Encoding of your actual CSV file? A mismatch in the file encoding is what usually causes this problem.



  5. LOL the “take on me” at 3:10 sounds so cranky!

  6. It?s really a nice and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Ray Hodges says:

    I am not able to import csv files into my iPad. I have been using your product with my iPhone with no issues, however I am not seeing the files on my iPad when I do a file transfer. Please advise.


  8. admin says:

    Hello Ray,

    How are you doing the file transfer? Where are you putting the files in Tap Forms? If you email I can take your issue offline.



  9. Daniel says:


    I haven’t used this great app for a while.
    Now I want to import an updated file but it’s not recognized.
    I have an Excel 2007 file which I exported to CSV (Excel: File-Save as-Other formats-CSV)

    I then entered the app on my iPhone (iOS 5.01) and selected the following settings:
    Tools: Import export settings
    Import: auto encoding (also tried Unicode UTF-8, Unicode UTF-16)
    date DD/MM/YYYY
    delimiter comma

    encoding ASCII
    end of line windows CRLF
    delimiter tab

    I then went to iTunes and added the CSV file to the TapForms app (in the Apps folder).
    But the file is not seen on the iPhone. Again, the issue is not incorrect import, but the file is not seen in any of the 2 directories.

    What am I doing wrong?

    Thank you.


  10. Daniel says:

    Forgot to mention, I also exported the Excel file as unicode.

  11. admin says:

    Hello Daniel,

    You will need to put the files inside the Imports folder. But you can’t see that from within iTunes. You will need to either email the file to your device, use Dropbox to transfer it, use the built-in FTP server, or use the built-in Web server to transfer the file to Tap Forms. Once you have that done, then you should be able to import the file just fine.



  12. Daniel says:

    After posting here I tried using Dropbox, it worked.

  13. Brent says:

    Love this app!! Quick question though. Is there a way to import custom pick lists or do you have to create them within the app itself?

  14. Stuart says:

    Brandon: Quick question on importing CSVs. What if on of the fields has much text (so it will become a “note” I suppose) including paragraph breaks, tabs and … worse yet…. one or more excerpts with quotes? Thus, if I manually put quotes around the entire field of text, it’s going to have quotes within quotes. Is this oing to create an import error? Thanks in advance of your reply!! PS congratulations on the Leo Laporte mention.

  15. admin says:

    Hello Stuart,

    Was the Leo Laporte mention recent? I know that he talked about Tap Forms on iPad Daily many months ago, but I don’t know if he’s mentioned it recently. Which show was it on?

    Anyway, you can deal with your quote issues by making sure you put two double-quotes around the quotes within your text.

    For example:

    “This is my “”amazing”” text line”

    Something like that will work for you in those situations.



  16. Stuart says:


    Thanks. No, the Leo reference was probably an old show. Sorry.

    One more question: is here a character limit in the “notes” field?

  17. Terry says:

    I’ve had trouble downloading as well. I managed to do so once, using Dropbox, but it was a while ago and I’ve forgotten the account name and whether the email address is my computer or the phone. While trying to sort that out, I thought I’d try iTunes files sharing and duly imported the document into the Tap forms box, then synced.

    According to the iTunes box, the document has been transferred. So I opened TapForms to look for it – but where is it? Not in the Imports file. Where else can I look?

  18. admin says:

    Hello Terry,

    You’ll need to stick your files inside the Share folder for Tap Forms to see them. You can use the built-in web server or the FTP server, or use Dropbox to transfer your files into the Share folder. You can also email them to yourself onto your device.



  19. Ralph says:

    How typical. Hide all the complaints. You sell more when you cover up the truth I guess.

  20. kristin says:

    I tried to import a file from DropBox, according to the instructions, but I was unable to do so without upgrading to the full version of Tap Forms, which I assume costs money. Too bad – I don’t want to spend the money without testing it out, to see if I can actually use the files I need on my phone.

    • Brendan says:

      Hello Kristin,

      I’m extremely sorry for not responding to your inquiry earlier. For some reason this got put into my spam folder on my blog and I did not see it until just now.

      Yes, Dropbox integration requires the full-version upgrade. But you can test out importing files into Tap Forms by simply emailing them to your device. Then in Mail when you get the email with the CSV file attachment, tap-and-hold on it until you see the “Open in Tap Forms” option. That will launch Tap Forms and show you the Import File screen.



  21. Keith says:

    How can i copy a file from my hotmail account to Tab Form?

  22. Brendan says:

    Hello Keith,

    I’m not sure what mail app you’re using, but if you’re using Apple’s Mail app on your iPhone or iPad to get your Hotmail email, then when you get the file attachment in your email, just tap-and-hold on it and then select “Open in Tap Forms”. Tap Forms will launch and import the file into the Imports folder.



  23. Keith says:

    Hi Brendan, I just tried that but nothing has appeared in the imports file. Am i doing something wrong?

  24. Brendan says:

    Can you please email me at and we can work through this via email? I’d like to see a screenshot of your mail and then in Tap Forms to see what you’re seeing.



  25. Travis says:

    Hi, I have what may be a stupid question. When I upload a form to Dropbox, edit it on my computer, and then import it back to TapForms it creates duplicates of every record that was in the form pre-edit. Is there a way to import only the added entries or to overwrite the existing form upon import?

  26. Brendan says:

    Hello Travis,

    What you want to do is to turn on the Export Record IDs option in the Export Settings. Then edit your data on your computer and then re-import into the exact same form. When Tap Forms sees the record ID, it will attempt to match it up with an existing record and perform an update in the database. If there’s no record ID for a particular row or it can’t find one, Tap Forms will add that row as a new record in your form.



  27. Travis says:

    Boom. Worked like a charm. Thanks, Brendan!

  28. Travis says:

    Ok, now I have run into another issue. I have imported a database to dropbox with the Export Record IDs on. I then have added records in the csv file in dropbox and when I try to import tap forms crashes. Lets say ay I have 150 records in the database when i import to dropbox, add 1 more record, and then try to import the records, it will go all the way to 150 and then crash. I hope that explanation makes sense.

  29. Travis says:


  30. Brendan says:

    Sorry Travis, I missed seeing your question here. It’s perhaps best to just email me at so I don’t accidentally miss anything. Although I typically get email notifications when someone posts here, they don’t all come through for some reason. Anyway, if you email me the CSV file I can take a look at it to try and figure out why it’s crashing. I would also check to make sure your import file encoding setting matches your export file encoding setting.



  31. Patrick says:

    I have the same problem as above. I checked and my export and import file encoding settings match.

  32. Brendan says:

    Hi Patrick,

    Can you verify the actual encoding of the CSV file you’re trying to import? You can send me the file and I can give you a recommendation on what file encoding to select.



  33. Emilio Farina says:

    I am new to Tap Forms but was able to build several databases on my MacBook Pro, back them up and export/import them and transfer one of them (so far) to my iPad. I am writing because I am especially sensitive to security issues and refrain from using iCloud, drop box or other service. I have placed robust passwords on MacBook Tap Forms client and on my iPad but not entirely sure how to optimize security. My question is three fold: 1). What is the most secure (current) method to transmit a CSV file to a iOS device … for importing to a Tap Form on the respective device? 2). Do you foresee the ability to use iTunes to do this similar to the way Excel Files are copied to and opened in iPad’s Numbers App (i.e. where CSV files could be imported in the iPad’s Tap Forms App) and if so, what time frame to you see. Finally 3). I’ve seen comments about transmitting via WiFi … where do we stand on that. I would like to see the ability to hook a cable from my mobile device to my Mac and move the information WithOut transmitting wirelessly at all – will that ever be possible? BTW excellent product and you have the patience of a saint in handling all these comments. All the Best, Emale

    • Brendan says:

      Hello Emilio,

      You can use the built-in web server or FTP server to directly transfer files into Tap Forms if you like.

      Plus in the next update which will require iOS 8, you’ll be able to access documents from other apps directly from within Tap Forms. It’s a new feature of iOS 8.

      I have no progress on WiFi sync at the moment, but it’s on my radar.



  34. Byron says:

    I created a form with a Date & Time field as the first field followed by other data. I filled in a number of records, exported it, cleaned up a bit of data, and then imported it again. The Date & Time field was imported as text. As soon as I customize the form to specify a type of Date & Time again, it loses the data for that field. Editing a record shows the current date/time rather than the imported value and if I export the records, they’re blank (unless I filled them in within TapForms).

    I note that Date & Time is not one of the field types listed at the top of this post. Is there a way to get TapForms to import Date & Time? I didn’t specify types on any of the fields. I’ve tried importing into both a brand new form as well as the original (after I deleted all the records).

    This is v38.3(177) running on iOS 7 (iPhone 4S).

    Thanks for any insight you can offer!
    Great product; first significant snag I’ve run into.

  35. Brendon says:

    G’day. I hopefully have a very simple question to ask – I have just downloaded TapForms for my Mac Pro, and I want to import the pick lists that I have set up on my iPad Tapforms version – what is the simplest way to achieve this?

    I look forward to your reply – I love TapForms because of its versatility and capability.



    • Brendan says:

      Hi Brendon! :-)

      Your best bet is to just email the form template from your iPad to your Mac Pro. That way when you import the form template, Tap Forms will also import the Pick List.

      Hope that makes sense.



      • Brendon says:

        Hi Brendan,

        Mate, can you please provide a step-by-step process on how to email the a form template from the iPad version to the Mac Pro version please?

        Many thanks,


        • Brendan says:

          Hi Brendon,

          1. Tap on your form to view the list of records.
          2. Tap on the action menu button (the square with the arrow pointing up).
          3. Tap on Customize Form
          4. Tap on the action menu button
          5. Tap on Email Form and enter who you want to email it to then send it.

          That’s it.



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