Duplicate Photos in the Web Uploader

When uploading observations, I often have cases where a photograph would be useful for several observations.
a half dozen species of lichen on a rock: with closeups of each species, but the habitat shot of the rock would be useful on all observations.
A bushclump of 4 or 5 species, all of which have observations, but I would like to add the habit and habitat photosgraphs to all of them.

At present the options are:

  1. dont bother. only use the photograph on one of them.
  2. use it on one and in the comments link to the observation with the shared photograph.
  3. copy the same photograph into the uploader each time and drag it into the observation

It would be nice to be able to “duplicate” the picture in the uploader and share it amongst observations while only uploading the actual photograph once.

Is there enough demand for this for people to actually consider it a worthwhile request?

I see there is a related question: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/duplicate-prevention-notify-observers-if-their-image-checksums-match-others-on-the-site/258 {but it is closed} - this uses duplicate instances of the same photograph to suggest that the observation may already have been uploaded.
I guess my request is more a way of allowing a picture to be used many times without duplicating it.

There is an option to duplicate an observation - which shares the photographs, but this is not an option for multiple photograph observations, where one wants to share just a few images.
Similarly, it is not possible to drag and drop pictures between observations, so at present that option is not possible.

I sometimes do this, and when I want just one photo from an observation I submit the observation, then duplicate it and uncheck the other photos in the Edit page. It’s a bit tedious so a way to do it in the uploader would be nice, but I don’t have to do it very often so it’s not a big deal to me.


Another way is to upload the first observation, and then in the comments you can add an html image tag using the url of the photo in that first observation. We often do this when showing a comparison to another species with explanation accompanied of the differences. If anyone is unsure how to do this, I can put up a tutorial to show how it is done.

In the old groups I alluded to many of us doing this, and it was pointed out to me that ALL observation photos are supposed to be of the individual concerned. I for one am extremely FOR having habitat / context photos, even if we had to mark/flag them as such.

So you would like to be able to add a photo of, say, a bee on a flower to the uploader and, while still in the uploader, duplicate that photo so that it can be used for two separate observations, one for the flower and one for the bee? If so, this is something I’ve wanted for a while so I’m all for it.

Habitat shots are something different, here’s a feature request for that: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/add-a-dqa-choice-for-survey-photos/190

If I’m understanding @tonyrebelo’s request correctly, one would be able to point several different observation records to the same, single copy of a photo upload.

I’m all for this if it is technically feasible, either during initial upload, or going back after the fact and creating a separate observation that points back to the previously uploaded photo, rather than having to duplicate the image file also.

One would just have to keep in mind that anything that happens to that photo down the road happens to all of the linked observation records.

Edit: this might also help address the request to allow multiple users to “share” the same observation.

It is super easy to duplicate photos on an upload (on the web anyway - I haven’t used any apps).

  1. Add the photos you want to upload to the upload window as usual. Combine them into observations on each card as usual.
  2. Any photos you’d like to duplicate - drag and drop them from your photo folder onto the upload screen. You can do this as many times as you need.
  3. If the duplicated photos are part of cards already sitting on the upload screen, just drag and drop onto each card that needs the extra photo.
  4. Save as usual.

Example: A rock with 3 lichens on it. I have 4 photos, 1 of the rock, 1 close-up each of the 3 lichens. I want the photo of the rock on each of the 3 lichen observations. Add the 4 photos to the upload screen. Combine the rock photo with lichen 1. Drag and drop the rock photo again from photo folder. Combine with the lichen 2. Etc. Repeat for lichen 3. Save. Ta dah!

Hope my explanation is clear enough :-)


My impression is that what you do uploads the image separately each time (at least the displayed time on the card is just as long as if the photo was being uploaded to iNaturalist separately). I will try it an check.

How does iNat know to use the image as a duplicate rather than save several instances of the same picture?

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Sorry: it does not work. I followed your instructions, and I now have:
for exactly the same photograph uploaded as suggested.

What I want is to use the uploader, and when I am finished have both observations using the same instance of the photograph. For instance: see here:
https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/15372829 (but this was done by a “Duplicate observation”)


Ah, so it looks like the “Duplicate” functionality on an existing observation already creates the relationship between photo and observations that you are looking for, just retroactively instead of proactively. I didn’t realize that before, and thought it made a copy of the photo(s) also.

So you are just wanting to do the same thing pro-actively during upload, by having the system recognize when duplicate images exist on different cards, only upload one copy of the image, and point all the relevant observations to that copy during/after upload, as if they had been created retroactively using the Duplicate function.

Makes perfect sense to me! Would maybe save some upload bandwidth too, which constantly seems to be an issue for me.


Is the desire to have multiple observations be attached to the same uploaded photo because of the extra bandwidth/RAM the photos take during upload? I’m just trying to parse how essential it is to your request for duplication. If, as I think I described in my last reply (hopefully it was cogent), you added a photo to the uploader and made a duplicate observation for that while still in the uploader, how much would you care whether or not they were attached to one uploaded photo?

I only ask this because I’m not sure what would be involved technically. Using the same uploaded photo would seem to be the more efficient way from my non-coding perspective, so I think your proposal makes a lot of sense.

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Oh I see now what you’re saying, Tony!

Okay, so my method does work for the end result of having a photo repeated on more than one ob.

Your suggestion of uploading the same photo once and having it appear on more than one ob is very excellent because bandwidth is a huge issue for me and I often can’t use iNat at all on certain days and times because it just ‘stops’ and gets stuck on static.inaturalist (or before that on goog maps (or even before that and then I get a page saying “iNaturalist is down”).

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To me it does not really matter at all.
I am afraid it is just that I am old fashioned and try and be frugal, and having the same image loaded a dozen times for a dozen observations seems to me to be inefficient, compared to loading it once and “sharing” it.
In the old days of low bandwidth and capped data it would have been a very real issue, and I can see it being an issue in much of Africa, and in rural areas with slow lines.
But personally I now have uncapped fibre at superfast speeds, and if iNat wants to have umpteem separate copies of an image it only costs me about 30s per 2Mb image in upload time.
Although, because of my frugal nature, I tend to use it very infrequently as a result.


I do care. It is inconvenient to wait until after upload to duplicate observations and then to do them individually, and I often have multiple species which can be id’d from my photos.

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for what it’s worth you cal right click or press that center mouse roll thing to create multiple tabs on the ‘copy’ button and then just go through them that way. I find it is pretty fast.

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the duplicate using mouse-wheel-click is OK if you are creating new observations for lots of species on one photo.
But if I have 20 lichen species from the same rock, I want 20 different observations with each lichen species, but I would like the habitat shot of the rock on each one. Using the one picture is not possible on each, I have to upload it 20 times (which is fast for me - I can drag it easily into the upload manager. In which case there are 20 instances of the same photo uploaded.
Or I could upload all the observations into one observation, and then duplicate it 20 times and then remove the unwanted pics from each one, but that is a major schlep. Too much hassle. And not fast at all.

This has just been implemented. https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/web-uploader-update-duplicate-and-reorder-observations/11467

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