How to use the iNaturalist Mobile App without an Internet connection

A question I see frequently is whether iNaturalist’s mobile app can be used when you don’t have a cellular data connection in the field, or when you don’t want to eat up your data plan with uploads. Well, you can record observations while in the field, and the app will save your date, time and location. For location you will likely be relying only on GPS signals, which means obtaining an accurate location will often take longer than usual.

However, you cannot access iNaturalist’s computer vision suggestions or its taxonomic database without an internet connection or upload any observations, of course. Here’s my suggested workflow for using the iNaturalist app in the field. I will be using iOS screenshots, but the basics are similar to that of the Android app.

  1. Make sure you’re allowing iNaturalist to access your location, and that you have locations services turned on for your device,.

  2. Go to the Settings screen of the iNaturalist app:

  1. Turn off Automatic upload. This will prevent iNaturalist from trying to upload your observations as soon as you save them. Some people prefer keeping this off all of the time.

  1. When you’re out in the field, make a new observation with the app. The app should record your date, time, and location, and the accuracy radius (red arrow) should decrease. It might not get to below 10 meters, however.

  1. When the location is pretty accurate and you’ve written any notes you wanted to jot down, tap on the green “Save” button. Note that the button is no longer labeled “Share” because you have turned off Automatic Upload.

  2. The observation will be appear on your list, without an ID and colored green to denote that it has not be uploaded yet.

  1. Continue to make observations while in the field. They will all save to your observations list and be colored green.

  2. When you have an internet connection, you can start adding IDs to your observations by editing them and then saving your changes.

  1. Now, upload your edited observations by tapping the green “Upload” button: