Extract species name from photo filename upon upload

Before uploading to iNat from my computer I generally edit and name all my images with the species names (If I know them).

It would be great if iNat did what Flickr does and retained the original file name upon upload, and extracted the species name from the original file name. Oddly, iNat extracts the species name from Flickr file names with no problem, so it’s clearly something iNat is capable of doing.

If you had multiple observations of the same species (or multiple photos in a single observation) would it give them all the same name? If the community ID changed the species, would it need to rename the photos?

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If it were filename, you couldn’t have the same filename twice unless they were from different folders on your device/computer. It wouldn’t matter anyway, because you can have multiple observations in the same upload having the same taxa as ID…

I would imagine exif tags could be read in the same way to pick up a taxa. Even if it just attempted to read/find them, and if it can make a match put it in as the taxa, observer can always edit them from there anyway. I don’t name my files either by filename or by exif, but there are plenty of people that do, so this would help a lot of people to reduce their upload workload. It might even encourage some of us to start doing it, and would be excellent for those that prefer to ID themselves before uploading. You could take your time off-line and add the name to the files, so for times when you have no internet access it can mean you could be adding the names to the photos so that the upload goes quicker when you are back online.

Everything after upload would work exactly the same as it does now.

The only difference would be that the species name (or genus, family, etc) would be extracted from the file name during upload. In the ID field the observation would start out with the species name given in the file name, but it would still need to be confirmed by the observer. This is exactly what iNat already does if you link it to your Flickr account and have an image with the species name included there.


We definitely do read EXIF tags, so you keyword your photos, iNat will read those and add an ID if there is a taxonomy match.


There is a thread here which may interest you - https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/metadata-how-to-add-a-taxon-name-that-is-picked-up-by-inat-on-upload/3691

What I would love is for the original image name to remain on each image like it does on the forum. Makes it much easier to find in one’s own photo collection.

That’s interesting, but it adds a significant extra few steps. As iNat seems able to scrape the EXIF data already, it seems that it would be a relatively small step for it to scrape the info from the file name as well.

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Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that this request won’t be considered, I just wanted to make clear that we do use EXIF keyword data in the uploader

Tony, what is the exact piece of exif that is used to populate the taxon name field? I have not found a clear answer to this on the other threads. I tried by adding the name to Tag to the exif, but this didn’t populate the field.

We’re looking at the XMP dc Subject and Title tags.

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Hmm, are you positive that’s all the uploader looks at? I rarely use Subject and Title. I tag/keyword all my images just using “regular” tags. Even tags like Life Stage=Adult gets pulled in as an annotation and a field, and the binomial is a tag that populates the taxon name field - they all upload correctly. Have done the same in Lightroom, the old Windows Photo Gallery and Zoner Photo Studio. If I do use Subject or Title they populate iNat’s Description field.

I can’t only tell you what our developers tell me.

I would appreciate this feature.

This is how I manage my picture files and observations:


It would spare time if the species name is automatically extracted from the file names, when I have hundreds of observations to post.

After posting, I also rename the files with the iNaturalist ID of the observation, so that my files become a miror of my online observations, and I can easily browse them and update them.



This should be working now, please give it a try. However, we can’t promise it will work in all situations and with all formatting schemes. Our advice:

  • use scientific names
  • only exact matches with iNaturalist’s taxonomy will work
  • hyphens might not work

Super! Thanks a lot!

It worked with this file name:
2019-10-04 11h36m21s - PL - Ficus benghalensis (Banian) - iNat xxx.jpg

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I didn’t work with these file names (tried several times):
2019-10-04 11h46m41s - PL - Pithecellobium dulce (Albizia Dulcis) - iNat xxx.jpg
Pithecellobium dulce.jpg

Is there an issue related to the taxon itself?

I used the correct spelling:

But it works if I put the genus name only:

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