Importing Directory Data and Photos

If you'd like to import your member data, you can do that easily with the import tool. You can use this to upload the majority of your directory data for Families and Individuals.

In this article

Step 1 - Choose & Upload Your CSV File

To get started, from the Dashboard, click the directory import wizard link.

In your data file, each field (column) should have a title in the first row such as First Name, Last Name, Address, etc.

Each column must have some data in it. If the column has no data (other than the title row), delete the entire column for the CSV file. If you see a parsing error when you upload, you may have a column with no data.

To see all the fields that are available for import, click here to review a template. You can use this template if you haven't already organized your data.

  • If you already have a CSV file of your data, you are ready to go!
  • If you have an Excel file (.xlsx) or another file type of your data, save it as a CSV file. In Excel, choose File >> Save As >> then choose CSV (Comma Delimited)(*.csv) as the file type.
  • You can import photos now as well. Include photo filenames in your CSV file if you want to upload photos with this import. This is optional. Photos can also be added individually to families as well as with a bulk upload tool later. See Working With Photos for more about those options.

Choose CSV File to Upload

Once your data is ready, it's time to upload the file from your computer or device.

1. From the Upload Your CSV File page, drag or drop your file or browse to find the CSV file on your computer or device and Select (Open)

2. Once your file is chosen, click Upload. You will see a 100% complete blue bar when the file has been uploaded.

Import Wizard

If you do not want to upload photos now, click Skip Upload Images & Continue. If you want to upload photos now and you included photo filenames in your CSV file, click Continue to Upload Images

If you are on a Mac computer, please ensure you are running Safari 16.0 or greater. Or you may use Chrome as that is supported.

Step 2 - Choose Your Photos to Import (Optional)

If during Step 1 you choose to Upload Images, you will see the Step 2 – Upload Photos screen.

At the top of the page, the name of the CSV file you uploaded will be listed. You have the option to Cancel and Start Over if you feel the need. That will delete the CSV file and give you a clean start.

IMPORTANT: In order to import photos, you must have a record on your CSV file with the image name to link each image to the correct family.

Image file names must be unique with no duplicates or else the import tool won't be able to match the second image if the file names are the same.

NOTE: You do not need to import a photo for every family. For any family you do not have a photo, leave the family photo filename field empty.

If your CSV file does not include photo file names, click Skip Upload Images & Continue. You can always upload photos later using the Multiple Image Uploader at a later time.

If your CSV file has a record with the image name for the images you want to import, you can drag and drop your photos into the box or you can click the Browse for files link.

For details about photo requirements, please review Working with Photos.

Photo Import in Progress

The images will upload one at a time. Once all the images have been uploaded you will see a 100% complete blue bar with the number of files uploaded below it.

Photo Import Completed

You are now ready to hit the Continue button.

Or, if you've changed your mind and do not want to upload images, you can click Skip Upload Images & Continue to just upload the data file without any images.

You can bulk-upload images anytime. To learn about that, please review Working with Photos.

Step 3 – Mapping Your Fields

At the top of the page, you will see the number of families and the number of photos (if you are uploading photos) listed. If the numbers are not what you expect, you can Cancel and Start Over (upper right) or go Back to a previous step. (lower left).

On this page, you will match (map) your CSV columns to the directory columns. On the left you will see the column names from your uploaded CSV file. If your column name matches ours, we will automatically match them together. Otherwise, you will see the word Select in a red box.

On the right, you will see an option to Select Instant Church Directory Fields to match yours. If you use our template, we will do all the matching for you!

Choose the fields to map your columns to Instant Church Directory

For each field that says Select on the right, click on it to see the dropdown, and choose the column name that best matches your column name on the left.

If you have a column name on the left (your data) that does not match a column name on the right, click Select and choose Ignore this Column in the dropdown.

IMPORTANT: Every one of your data columns must have something selected in the dropdown fields on the right before you can move forward with the import.

Choose the field from the dropdown menu to match your CSV file to Instant Church Directory Fields

Once you have matched all your columns to ours, click Continue and Preview in the lower right.

Data Import Exceptions:

We allow a max of 4 adults and 6 children for any one family entry. If you have more than that, you can import 4 adults & 6 children now, and then you will then need to manually add the rest.

If an adult or child has an alternate last name, you will need to manually add that later.

See Creating or Editing a Family or Individual Details to learn how to make edits to Families or Individuals.

Step 4 – Preview your Data and Complete Your Import

At the top of the page, you may see messages in red where data could not be matched or data is malformed. Or you may see notes when images can't be found (if you chose to upload them).

The data listed in red will not be imported unless you resolve the problems listed. You can see these problems when you review a few families by choosing Preview at the lower right side on the page.

Next on this page, you will also see a Preview Your Imported Data which shows your data and where it will be placed in your directory once you hit Import Families. You will see up to 10 Families from the file you are importing. You can click the < > arrows to toggle thru several Families and the data you will be importing.

Please review this carefully to be sure the data is in the right place. This is how your data will be imported, so it is important to verify the data is correct prior to clicking Import Families.

You can hit the Back button (lower left) to go return to Map Your Columns to Ours or you can Clear and Start Over (link in upper right).

Parsing Errors

If you see that data is in the wrong place you can click Back (lower left) and make changes for any column names that were matched incorrectly (for example a phone number was matched to an email column).

NOTE: If you have bad data (for example emails or dates that are malformed). You can edit your CSV file and then go Back all the way and reupload your CSV file. This will not duplicate your data. If you go back to re-upload your CSV file, you do NOT need to re-upload your photos. You will see that photos are still uploaded and you can click Continue on the Upload Photos page. Watch for the number in the gray box about how many photos you have uploaded.

Some items to check as you preview your directory data:

  • Phone numbers are in phone number fields
  • First names are in first name fields with the right phone number and email for the individual.
  • The correct photo is showing for each family entry.

Once you are satisfied with the data in Preview, click Import Families in the lower right corner.

You will see a confirmation page giving you details of what you just imported along with some things you could do next.

If you have photos that were uploaded but not matched to a family, you will see a blue "View & Assign Unmatched Photos".

After You Complete the Import

You still may need to do some manual entry for details like individual email addresses, phone numbers, or birthdays. These listings are unique to each individual as members will need to Opt-in or Opt-out of having their email or birthday show in the directory or opt into a text message plan. Learn more about protecting your member's privacy in our article: Considering your church member's privacy.

Step 5 - Undo Your Latest Import

If you find that the imported data is wrong in some way, you can undo (rollback) your most recent import.

From the Dashboard, look for the Undo Import link.

From the dashboard, click the "Undo Import Completed..."

On the right, you will see a list of all the Families that will be removed from the directory (including photos if those were uploaded too).

If a family was edited in ANY way - that family will not be removed from the directory. They are listed inside the left box.

Families that cannot be rolled back. Families that can be rolled back.

If you are ready to undo your most recent import, click the blue Rollback button.

Some frequently asked questions about importing data

I made an import mistake, how can I start over?

If you need to delete the information on your directory, you can do so by logging into your account online, selecting the "My Account" link on the right-hand side of your screen, and choosing the Reset Directory Option. You have the option to delete by section by selecting which sections you want to permanently delete and hitting continue.  This is a permanent deletion and cannot be undone.  

We have CDM software which can include pictures. Can we import the roster data AND the picture into your software?

If your CDM software (or any other member management software) can export member data as a CSV file or a tab-delimited file, the information can be imported into Instant Church Directory. However, the photos will need to be imported using Instant Church Directory's photo import tool. 

Can the import feature of Instant Church Directory be used to add families to an existing directory that is already populated with other families?

Yes, you can import a CSV file into an existing directory. However, if there are names in the CSV files that are already in the directory, you'll end up with duplicate entries.

New imported names will be integrated into the existing alphabetical list in the correct alphabetical order. 

Will Instant Church Directory let me save my directory as an HTML or XML page?

Our program doesn’t have the capability to directly export HTML or XML pages. However, the Instant Church Directory PDF file can be exported as HTML or XML by using Adobe Acrobat 8.0. That program can export a PDF as HTML 3.2, HTML 4.01 with CSS 1.0, or XML 1.0. 

Adobe Acrobat 8.0 may be a bit pricey for some churches ($159-$449). More information about Adobe Acrobat 8.0 is available at

Is there a way to export all of the ICD Online pictures and the directory if we have a need?

Currently, you can only export the images as a PDF.   You can export the family list as a CSV file from the link on the bottom left side of the Family tab.  

Can I transfer my existing Instant Church Directory CD or download version to Instant Church Directory Online?

Maybe... You may be able to transfer your existing Instant Church Directory CD (icdx file) or download version to Instant Church Directory Online.  Once you've created an Instant Church Directory Online Account, choose Contact Us and we'll send you a special link to the page for importing from your CD file. The CD or download software is over 10 years old and as time goes on, we are finding that it is not working for everyone. But you will be able to try to use the import tool we send you.

Can the import feature of Instant Church Directory be used to add families to an existing directory that is already populated with other families?

Yes, you can import a CSV file into an existing directory. However, if there are names in the CSV files that are already in the directory, you'll end up with duplicate entries.

New imported names will be integrated into the existing alphabetical list in the correct alphabetical order.

I read about making email and phone private. Can I do that on import?

Currently, if you want to make a phone or email address private, it can not be done on import. To make them private, you will want to make sure that email or phone to listed as an individual's email or phone (not the family phone or email). Once you have completed your import, you can then edit the family >> edit the individual and set the email and/or phone number as private. You can also make the family address private. Read more about member privacy.

I see an error when uploading the file that says "Please select only CVS (comma-delimited) files"

You are likely trying to upload an Excel file or some other file format that is not CSV. Only CVS (comma-delimited) files will upload with the import tool.

If you are working with Excel, follow these instructions to save the Excel file as CSV. In Excel, choose File >> Save As >> then choose CSV (Comma Delimited)(*.csv) as the file type. Be sure your first row has column titles like First Name, Last Name, address, etc. Be sure the columns are labeled per what you see above in this help document before exporting to the CSV format.

If you are working with another program, please check their help documentation on how to save our data as a CSV file.

When I try to upload a CSV file, nothing happens.

If you are on a Mac, please ensure you are running Safari 16.0 or higher, as the Import Tool is not supported in earlier versions of Safari. If you are running Chrome, Edge or Firefox and run into this problem, please Contact Us.

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