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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. Al McPhee says:

    OK, this is “how to set up my CSV file for import”. How about more clear instructions on how to actually invoke the import? When I start the process, the file will be on my Mac, how do I get it to my iPod Touch? TapForms can’t simply browse for it on my Mac.

    I’m an old Palm user and have been using a DB program on that platform, import is very important for me as I don’t want to re-key all my data.

    Much thanks, Al

  2. admin says:

    There are instructions on the Files tab for how to get your file into Tap Forms from your PC or Mac. I simply added this bit of information to help people understand how to actually format their CSV file and also where to go to initiate the import (e.g. tap the Import Records button from the Edit Form screen’s action menu). You can also tap the Import Records button from the list view’s action menu.



  3. Eve McGivern says:

    My problem is that from a Mac, when launching from Finder’s Go > Connect to Server, it creates a volume on my desktop in which I can see the Exports and Imports folders, but the volume is read-only. Do I need to sudo in and set permissions here, as Get Info does nothing for me? I also tried via CuteFTP for the Mac, but no combination of anonymous logins got me connected. (using IP address and port 8021).

  4. Al McPhee says:

    I figured instructions would be available once TapForms is installed. That doesn’t help one make an evaluation of the software prior to purchase. You have to agree that documentation and support availability are large criteria toward purchasing decisions. I’m glad to see a prompt response to my question, speaks volumes concerning support.
    I’m anxious to see your response to Eve McGivern’s issue.

    Tkx, Al

  5. admin says:

    I agree that my documentation skills are a little lacking. I will have more time in the near future to put together a comprehensive user guide.

    To answer Eve’s Finder question. The OS X Finder for some odd reason only mounts FTP servers as read-only. I generally use a cool free program called CyberDuck. You can download it from

    Then I simply click the Open Connection icon, put in the IP address and port number into the appropriate fields, check anonymous and then connect. Works like a charm every time.

    I’ll add this bit of info to the main article.



  6. I noticed that the list of fields you included in this post included the audio and photo fields. Does this imply that there is a actually a way to import these formats? I assume that you just cut and paste these out of habit, but I thought I’d ask “just in case”.


  7. admin says:

    I just updated the posting to remove audio and photo from the field types. Yes, you’re right Daniel, you can’t import photos or audio from a CSV file. Typo!



  8. admin says:

    Although now that I think of it, you could leave audio and photo in their and Tap Forms will at least generate the fields and set the types for you given the column names in the CSV file.

  9. Gary Connor says:

    I thought the documentation, though brief, was clear, although the need for a username and password was skipped. Other than that it worked perfectly on some fairly large files.

  10. Tom Arnfeld says:

    I must say, i do love this app! Every time i reach for a bit of paper i think, wait i can just do it on here!

    I have no idea how to use this .csv , i know it is some kind of database file or some sort.. i can export the MYSQL databases on my web-server to CSV. Could someone email me a demo CSV with a sample form or something in it so i can just see how it works and how i need to actually make the .csv file :)

    Thanks so much!

  11. Ian Yarwood says:

    I have created my .csv file and sent it to my imports folder using my FTP program. No problems there. When I open my form and go to import this file it starts but then drops out of the program. hen I go back into the program I find that only a small number of the records have imported. Tried this a few times and each time different number of records are imported before the program crashes. The .CSV file I am importing has over 15,000 records but only getting around 350 imported? Any help would be appreciated on this :-)

    Thank You


  12. john says:

    hi i have got the .csv file over to the tap forms import folder then made form named movie collection press box in corner then import then .csv file is not showing up to import to form where am i going wrong can you help please thanks.

  13. Marcus says:


    I just downloaded the App and imported my DVD Collection database with no problems at all. Really a great application, great UI especially, thanks a lot! (I can’t wait for the encryption feature, which will make it even more useful… :) )

    In order to import my DVD list, I had to replace all Commas by something else before writing to csv. I have to admit I use Commas quite frequently, so it would be awesomesome if the were some way to mask them for the import or use a different separator if needed.

    Thanks for the great programming again,


    • admin says:

      Tap Forms 1.7 will let you choose a column delimiter. It will support commas, semi-colons, colons, pipes, and tabs. I think those are the most common delimiters anyway.



  14. Marcus says:

    Sounds great, looking forward for the next version. If you need help with German localization I’d love to help out, though I’m probably not of much use as I don’t own a Mac. ;)


    • admin says:

      The German translation has been done and will also be available in 1.7. Along with German, Tap Forms will now have English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, Italian, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese. Swedish and Polish are in the works.

  15. flo says:


    I have the same problem like Ian. When importing the csv it just imports rd.ab. 5% and the ends the app. With evry new try it stops at the same point. File has 918 entries, same format as anothe file which worked. When trying to edit the entries the app stops as well. Any recommendations on this?



    • admin says:

      Hello Flo,

      If you send your file to I can look to see if there’s anything obviously wrong with it. You could also try looking for any rows that don’t have the same number of columns as the header field. For example, if your header row had 5 columns, then every row should also have 5 columns (4 commas actually). If you have any fields that might have a comma within it, make sure they are quoted. Like this “Friday, May 22, 2009”.

      Also, Tap Forms doesn’t deal well with files as big as Ian’s unfortunately. You could try making your files smaller and importing them a segment at a time.

  16. Bin says:


    i personally love the applications; kudos on the build so far
    i use the customizable forms alot because i do alot of insurance it’s nice to have clients data on the go.

    i primary bought the app for the audio recording it’s hands down the best so far and plus it.
    and i appreciate that fact that it will keep recording when the iphone darkens… awesome.

    but the only issue i have is….how do you import the audio files?
    i have over 25 audio recording of meeting …(one hour each conversation)

    any suggestion to transfer into the computer

  17. admin says:

    To export an audio file from Tap Forms, you will need to do a backup with SyncDocs ( Once you’ve done a backup, there will be a folder on your Mac or PC in the TapForms backup folder called Audio Recordings (and one for Photos). Then you can copy the files to wherever you want them to be. Tap the Tools tab in Tap Forms and then tap Backup & Restore. There’s a help button [?] in the top-right corner that tells you how to use SyncDocs.

  18. Kerrie says:

    It’s taken me a while to work this computer to application thing out (as I have little experience with this sort of stuff) but with your help I’ve finally managed to create my files.
    Just wondering though, on the pc, can I have separate lines within the one text field?
    And, in the app, because I have a lot of text in the one field, can I view the field contents without the keyboard coming up?

    Many thanks,


    • admin says:

      Yes, you can have separate lines within a single field for your import. The important thing to note is you need to make sure your column is surrounded by quotes.

      For example:

      My first column,”The second column has text that is
      contained on multiple lines”,My third column,”And last, but not least,
      the fifth column”

      Also note the fifth column has commas in it. If you use a comma delimiter, you must put double quotes around it so Tap Forms can treat it as a single column with data that just so happens to have commas inside it.

      I have fixed the Notes field so you will be able to see the entire note without the keyboard popping up until you tap inside the note to edit it.



  19. Ninad says:

    Hello Brendan,

    Of all things, your Import settings do not support dd/mm/yy date format, the most popular date format in US. Please add this.

    Great app!

  20. Ninad says:

    oops .. I meant mm/dd/yy.

  21. Brendan says:

    Oops! Yes, you’re right.

    I have just added that for the next update.

    Sorry about that.


  22. Nicole says:

    Hi, Brendan! Love TapForms so far, but I have an urgent request: I have a database with a number of long (several paragraphs’ worth of text) fields. The app truncates them after four lines. Please, please, please can you enable either 1) unlimited-length text fields (can be scrollable or show all the text on a secondary screen), or 2) the ability to set a field’s length?

    Thanks very much!
    :) Nicole

  23. Nicole says:

    Oops–I meant that the app truncates them upon import (the original file was tab-delimited).

    :) Nicole

  24. Nicole says:

    Never mind! I see that feature is part of the “Notes” field type functionality. I’ve changed all of those field types to Note.

    :) Nicole

  25. Ian says:

    Tried to import csv file but only 19 of 72 records imported. 20th record had a “£” in text, removed and imported OK.

  26. dennis says:

    I am trying to split up my database into smaller subsets.

    I have exported the database, used TextEdit to change some values and delete some rows.

    When I import the data into a new, cloned database, the second field (of the type date-time) gets hosed and, in all rows, replaced with “December 31, 1969 16:00”

    The date format for both importing and exporting is mm/dd/yyyy and on the iPod the import and export files look correct.

    Is there something tricky about using the date-time field?


    Any thoughts

  27. Michael says:

    I really love this app, and I’m just not discovering the import feature. So I’ve started creating a new test database using TextEditor (Mac) and everything looks right. Then once the form is imported, the first field name has an “N” in front of it. My text file is this:

    Eaton,ATS Bypass Isolation Switch,Closed Transition,Y
    Schneider Electric,ATS-NW,Open Transition,N

    I then save that with UTF-8 encoding with a .csv extension. Once that’s converted to a form inside TapForms, the field name is displayed as “NManufacturer”. Now, encoding with UTF-16 solves this problem, so I checked and made sure that the File Encoding under Import Settings is set to automatic. Is this a bug I’ve stumbled on?

    Thanks for all your help!

  28. Peter says:

    would be a good idea to have link on your website to the instructions in the coments about import and exporting with out going through the comments as it explains it well but could not find that at first search it would have saved me heaps of time
    great app thanks

  29. Eric Delph says:

    I noticed that HanDBase allowed the use of MS Internet Explorer to perform FTP upload and download. I tried it with TapForms, and it works. No need for a separate program. Due to your great support, I will now purchase the full program.

  30. Mike says:

    On Snow Leopard, and possibly Leopard I’d imagine, I select Go/Connect to server in the finder, enter the http 8080 address for WebDav and use a username and password – works OK, though I’ve had a couple of occasions when it hangs and sometimes the iPhone app crashes too (this is just on file transfer, not import).

    On the import itself, no luck yet :(

    I’m trying to import a database of poems, so I have several text fields for title, author etc. and one for date, then a field called “text” at the end, which is of “note” type. Some of the values are pretty long, of course, so I was doing a test import with just three poems. The CSV is 102 lines altogether. The import appears to work (it thinks there are 4 records, probably my trailing newline?). However, on opening the form I find no records! If I customize the form there are no fields in it either. If I add a text field called “Title” to match the CSV file I then see four records, but all of them are blank titles.

    I assumed that the import should create a new form each time with all the field names and types I specified. Am I right? What’s wrong?

    P.S. I have tried both pipes and commas for separators, and I have placed commas around the fields as in the example above. Also, this may be relevant – my date format is “yyyy-mm-dd”.

    Oops, I’ve typed too much. I do that :)

  31. Mike says:

    Oops. When I said “commas around the fields”, of course I meant “quotes” !

  32. Mike says:

    Well that was great! Brendan emailed me within minutes of my post – thanks Brendan!

    It turns out my problem was the character encoding hadn’t been set. In case anyone else has this problem, here’s a summary:
    I created the CSV in Windows XP, copied it to iMac, then downloaded to iPhone. In this instance, importing with character encoding set to “Auto” didn’t work. When I changed to “Windows Latin 1” it was fine.

  33. Peter says:

    I managed to import some csv files okay, but the largest failed to get as far as the forms list, but it was visible in the form list. When I tried to delete it, the app hung and since then I have not been able to open Tap Forms at all. Can I reinstall the app and start over. It is a great app, so I really want it back please.

  34. Peter says:

    Apopa! My earlier posting didn’t show a plus sign I put in. It should have read… ‘failed to get as far as the forms (ie main) list, but it was visible in the plus (ie new) forms list’…

  35. Paul says:

    I am using Tapforms to store the photography tips I read about and to make entering this info easier I am using Excel.

    A couple of tips:

    1. If you perform an export from TapForms first, this will create a CSV file that you can then edit on your PC or Mac with all of the field names and types in place.
    2. Make sure you turn on “Export Record ID” in the import/export settings. If you do not have this on, when you next import your csv file into TapForms you will end up with duplicate records. When editing the csv file on your PC or Mac, leave this field blank for new records and TapForms will import it as a new record.

    This is a truely excellent app Brendan – Can’t wait for the desktop app to go with it :)

  36. Sue says:

    I can’t seem to import more than 2 records in my CSV file, what am I doing wrong? My CSV reads like this:

    Title,Year,Price,Size,Medium,Copies Available?,Framed?,Notes
    Adoration,2009,200,8×8 unframed, 16×16 framed,Ink Painting on canvas,,Yes,
    After Dinner,2009,50,Approx 8×8,Ink Illustration on Paper,No,,
    Balance,2010,200,8×8 unframed, 16×16 framed,Ink Painting on canvas,,Yes,At Baden Hound
    Blue Heeler,2010,200,8×8,Ink Painting on canvas,,Yes,At Baden Hound

    My import settings are File Encoding=Automatic, Date Format=default, Column Delimiter=Comma

    I have tried everything except the Japanese File Encoding, and get either zero or 2 rows of 10. In the initial import screen, it sees 10 rows, but stops importing at 2. If I View instead of Import, I see all 10 records.

    Eventually I would like to import hundreds of records, this is just my test. Any advice?

  37. admin says:

    Hello Sue,

    Your header row has 7 commas in it, but not all your data rows have 7 commas. Some have 8. That’s probably the problem. They have to match.



  38. Glenn says:

    I am making a DB of airports with fields including text, numbers and photos. I can export the DB and modify it on Excel on my Mac. I then export the modified file to csv.

    However when I import the modified version the text and numbers import correctly, but the photo fields are now empty in all the records and I have to reselect which photo goes with each field.

    Any solutions as inputting on the Mac is a lot faster than the iphone.

  39. admin says:

    Hello Glenn,

    You should remove the photos column from the CSV file before you import them back into Tap Forms. The photos will not be removed then.



  40. Glenn says:

    So do I need to leave a blank column in my desktop csv file where the photo field would be or do I just need to delete it completely and have less columns (fields) in the desktop v iphone file?

    Thanks for the quick reply. I really like how your app keep the photos at good resolution which can be zoomed and are still readable.

  41. Glenn says:

    I have just tried this with a sample database. I used export settings of Export Record ID both ON and OFF. When I exported the form/DB I could modify it with Excel and create another record. The original form had a picture in it and the photo ID seems to be in the CSV (lots of alpha numeric & .jpg under the photo field). However when I import the CSV, both the original and the new record appear (which is good) but the photo field of the original record no longer has the photo I had put there.

    I tried with deleting the photo column in the CSV before I imported it and also just deleting the data in that field prior to import to Tap Forms but in both cases the photo in the original record gets lost.

  42. admin says:

    Hi Glenn,

    I’ll look into this issue. But if there’s no photo column, and there exists a record ID, then I’m not sure why it’s removing the photo. But hey, it’s possible. I’ll look into it to see what the problem is.



  43. Colin Woolf says:

    OK, I count myself as very computer literate coming from the Acorn platform then to Mac’s – but I am stumped.

    I am trying to get my Filemaker database into TapForms, I have a .csv file in the correct format waiting, but I cannot connect. I have the IMPORT screen ion my iPhone4 with an http:// address at the bottom. Putin gthat into Speed Download or CyberDuck gives ‘connection failed’

    How do I get the file onto the iPhone – PLEASE HELP me

    I have read all the comments above but nothing helps IAF – At the moment my paid for App looks like a dead duck.


  44. admin says:

    Hello Colin,

    Have you tried visiting the website address displayed on the Files tab using Safari?

    There you will see a web page which allows you to upload files. Alternatively if you need to use FTP, then you need to switch Tap Forms to use the FTP server. This you do on the Tools tab. Also alternatively you can signup for a free Dropbox account and transfer files to Tap Forms that way.



  45. Colin Woolf says:

    Thanks for the prompt reply

    Firstly – there is no web page detailed on the Files tab, when you click the question mark it gives you details on how to connect using CyberDuck (Ia am) or via DropBox. I have tried all these to no avail. I just get the message – ftp://anonymous@ failed, connection refused.

    This is great

  46. Colin Woolf says:

    To all you struggling with the use of TapForms – the support is EXCELLENT !

    Just ask.

    Thanks Brendan

  47. admin says:

    Thanks Colin,

    And just to let others know, Colin’s issue was with Cyberduck automatically filling in port 21. Changing that to port 8021 as is required by Tap Forms fixed the problem for him.



  48. Colin Woolf says:

    Hi all

    I have just had the import stop importing at 30 records out of 3235 – I firstly got rid of all the double quotes that Filemaker puts into the .csv export and made sure the first line contained the field names separated by a comma! The solution was to change import settings to ‘automatic’ and try Mac Roman for the encoding (if you use a MAC :-)) and that seemed to work for me.
    Just discovered a cool feature that is not clear from use. You can drag the order that the fields are displayed in (in customise setting) , mine was showing the Title first which was kind of useless- I just dragged Surname to the top and now it is easy to see my contacts.

    I guess when the manual come out all will be clear :-)

  49. Ian Todd says:


    I’m having a problem importing a column of type date_time from CSV into a form. I have exported my form to csv, and tried to import a line in exactly the format, with the same header column except form_record_id (I also tried it with, and left it blank). For some reason even though the date_time format I am using is mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm it imports into the database as 1 January 1970 01:00 every time. I’m not sure why as it is in exactly the same format as the exported csv, and the import/export format settings are the same. Any ideas?

    Thanks, Ian.

  50. Brendan says:

    Hello Ian,

    Yes, that’s a problem. Unfortunately I haven’t added the ability to import date/time or time fields. Only importing date fields is supported at this moment. That’s something I need to add.

    Sorry for that.


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