Backing up and Transferring Your ATLAS.ti Projects

May 10, 2016

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Author: Ani Munirah Mohamad

In this short Best Practices article, I will discuss the processes of backing up and transferring projects in ATLAS.ti 7 Windows, ATLAS.ti Mac, and ATLAS.ti Mobile (iPad and Android apps).  Very often when we talk about creating backup files, people will assume that it is a precautionary measure just in case something unwanted happens to our analysis projects. While this assumption holds truth to some extent, in this article, I will consider a couple of other occasions in which we might need to create backup files more often than we think. I will also discuss some matters surrounding this issue. Finally, I will describe the methods of creating project backup files for different purposes. (See here related blog article on Copy Bundles in ATLAS.ti 7).

Why create backup files in ATLAS.ti?

  1. Precaution against unwanted occurrence to our original project. Since the ATLAS.ti 7 Windows and the ATLAS.ti Mac projects are stored on our computers, any risks associated with the computers are also associated to the projects. Computer risks such as technical failure and virus attacks are common and just to name a few, we could be rest assured when we have our research analysis properly backed up.
  2. Ability to open the project in a second computer. In ATLAS.ti Windows, moving a project between computers requires a Copy Bundle.  That is the same procedure used to back up the project.  In ATLAS.ti Mac, the project has to be exported, and then imported in the second computer. Additionally, when we have projects created using the iPad and Android ATLAS.ti Mobile applications, it is required that the projects be transferred to the software desktop versions for analysis.
  3. Keeping a progress record of our analysis.  In the Windows and Mac versions of ATLAS.ti, it makes sense to create backups every now and then so that we can preserve the progress record of our analysis over a specified period of time. It could be weekly, or bi-weekly or monthly, or any other intervals we decide.  That could become a point of return in the event the latest development in the analysis is not desirable for any reason. Or, just if you want to see the state of your analysis at a given point in time.

Some issues on creating backup files

I list down below some of the frequently-asked-questions (and my answers) which I discuss with my course participants:

  1. Where do I keep the backup files?  This question may sound funny to some people, but I always make it a point to suggest ideas on where to keep the back up files: ideally, try keeping them in the cloud or an external drive.  Importantly, do not save the back up files in the same computer where the original project is saved. The reason for that is obvious: if the computer crashes, you will lose everything, including the ATLAS.ti backup files.
  2. How often do I back up my project?  There is no hard and fast rule about when should we create backups. It is impossible to suggest a specific time interval for this given that no one has the same usage pattern of the software.  My recommendation, however, is that you back up your project files as frequently as necessary in order to preserve the integrity of your projects in case of computer malfunction
  3. What do I do with the backup files? It very much depends on the purpose which we create them in the first place. I would say if we initially create them as a precaution against unwanted risks, then if no such risks take place, there would not be any need to use them. We would only be using them if the computer technically fails, is stolen, or faced with any other similar risks. Similarly, if we initially create the back up files to keep a progress record of our analysis, then, we would only be installing them if we wish to return to the earlier ‘versions’ of our analysis. Otherwise, we would not need to do anything with them. On the other hand, if we create the back up files intending to transport the project to a second computer, then on the second computer, we simply need to unpack them (in ATLAS.ti Windows) or import them (in ATLAS.ti Mac).

Procedures to create project backups in ATLAS.ti.

ATLAS.ti Windows. In ATLAS.ti Windows (version 7 and earlier), projects are backed up using the Copy Bundle function.  This procedure allows to create a sort of a ‘zip’ file that contains all documents and all work done with them in the analysis project.  Everything is together in one single file.

To create a copy bundle:

  • Select the menu Project / Save Copy Bundle.
  • Alternatively, we can also select the menu Tools / Copy Bundle / Save Copy Bundle.
  • The bundle will be saved with the extension ‘atlcb’.

Save CB

To unpack a copy bundle:

  • Select the menu Project –> Unpack Copy Bundle
  • Select the file with the extension ‘atlcb’
  • Select where to save it in your computer and proceed.

Unpack CB

The copy bundle procedure should also be used to transfer ATLAS.ti Windows project files between computers.  To learn about copy bundles, read this manual section and watch this video tutorial. You may also read this blog article discussing the Copy Bundle function.

ATLAS.ti Mac. In ATLAS.ti Mac, the best option for backing up projects is to use Time Machine, which is the backup software application that comes with all Mac computers. To learn about Time Machine,  visit the Apple Support website.  Alternatively, you can export the ATLAS.ti Mac project, and save the exported file in an external location (e.g., the cloud or an external drive).  This procedure backs up the file and allows to transfer the project between computers.

To export the project:

  • Select the menu Project –> Export Project.
  • The project will be saved with the extension ‘.atlpac’.

Export Mac

To import a project:

  • Open ATLAS.ti and select Import an ATLAS.ti Project.
  • Alternatively, if a project is currently opened and you want to import a new one without closing it first, go to Project –> Import Project.
  • Select the file with the extension ‘atlapac’.

Import Mac A and B

To learn about exporting a project file in ATLAS.ti Mac, read starting on page 25 of the manual.

Procedures to transfer project files from ATLAS.ti 7 Windows and ATLAS.ti Mac

Projects created in ATLAS.ti 7 Windows can be exported into ATLAS.ti Mac.  To do this, follow these steps:

  • In ATLAS.ti 7 Windows, select the menu Project –> Export –> Mac Transfer Bundle.
  • Alternatively, we can also select the menu Tools –> Export –> Mac Transfer Bundle.
  • The bundle will be saved with the extension ‘.atlpac’.

Export Transferrable file A and B

  • In ATLAS.ti Mac, import the Mac Transfer Bundle. To do this, import the project (same procedure described above).

Once ATLAS.ti 8 is released later in 2016, it is going to be possible to import into the Windows version of ATLAS.ti projects created in the Mac version of the software.

To learn about transferring projects from ATLAS.ti 7 Windows to ATLAS.ti Mac, watch this video tutorial.

Procedures to transfer project files from ATLAS.ti Mobile to ATLAS.ti 7 Windows and ATLAS.ti Mac

Projects created using the ATLAS.ti Mobile applications must be transferred to the desktop versions of the software for analysis. Currently, projects created using the iPad app can be transferred to ATLAS.ti 7 Windows and ATLAS.ti Mac applications.  Projects created using the Android app, can only be transferred to ATLAS.ti 7 Windows.

iPad app. In the iPad app, the procedure to export a project is as follows:                   

  • Select a Project then tap the Export button
  • Choose the location either Documents Directory or Dropbox. If we choose Documents Directory, we can download the projects using iTunes, and if we choose Dropbox, the project is uploaded to our Dropbox account.
  • The exported project will be saved with the extension “.hprx”


To learn about creating backups in ATLAS.ti Mobile for iPad, read starting on page 36 of the manual.

Android app. In the Android app, the exporting procedure is as follows:

  •  Tap the overflow menu in the action bar and select the option Export Project.
  • The exported project will be saved with the extension “.hprm” within the device itself. We can then transport this file to the desktop version of the software using the Share function or using a cable.


To learn about creating backups in ATLAS.ti Mobile for Android, read starting on page 43 of the manual.

Thank you!

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