Using iNat on slow internet connections - wiki

I have the luxury of not typically needing to worry about problems with iNat due to a slow or dodgy internet connection, but when traveling I’m usually reminded of the issues that a large part of the world has to deal with.

I recently led a small iNat workshop in an area with poor mobile data connectivity and slower-than-I’m-used-to wifi. While I had participants in the workshop turn off auto-upload and sync their observations when we returned to wifi, many people were unable to sync due to the slow/shared wifi connection, which put a bit of a damper on the workshop as we planned to go through their observations and review what we found together.

I'm curious if others have tips for effectively using the iNaturalist apps and website for these situations?

Items formatted like this are current feature requests.

Mobile app

  • Turn off auto-upload in account settings and sync when returning to wifi.

  • Turn off computer vision suggestions in account settings.

  • Turn on airplane mode. Your device’s GPS should still be functional, but it won’t be draining your battery trying to connect to a poor or fickle connection.

    • If you use a camera app other than the iNat app’s built-in camera, make sure the settings give it permission to access your GPS. If you always have to manually map your observations, instead of location coming in automatically from the photos, then it probably doesn’t have correct permissions.
  • Add identifications to your observations once you return to faster internet.

  • At events where multiple people will be syncing their observations at once:

    • Ask people who have unlimited data not to connect to the shared wifi.
    • Bring extra mobile wifi hotspots for people to connect to.


  • When uploading observations, limit the number of photos uploaded at a time.

  • Use Draft Mode to upload a few observations at a time and hedge against unstable internet connection.

  • Crop and resize large photos before uploading, especially if much of the photo is not the organism of focus.

  • Append &per_page=10 (can modify number) to limit the observations returned per page on Identify. (does this actually increase speed? My connection was so poor on hotel wifi that night that I couldn’t even tell —cassi.)

  • Instead of using the Identify modal, open observations in new tabs, and go do something else while waiting for them to load. :sweat_smile:

  • Increase thumbnail size on Identify so that the modal needs to be opened less frequently for easy to identify species.

  • Turn off other observations on maps to improve map loading time.

  • Toggle computer vision suggestions off to speed up adding IDs.

  • Try out different browsers! @karoopixie has found Brave is lightning fast compared to Firefox.

  • Different times of day: things slow down when more of the iNat world is online. Try different times (and days).

  • Make sure you don’t have other processes/programs using the bandwidth at the same time. For example, limit Dropbox downloads to something like 50 kb/s or pause synching altogether. Disable automatic updates on programs, temporarily or permanently. Put your email client into offline mode (or just close it). Etc.

This is a wiki topic, so you can directly edit this first post rather than add a new post (unless you have a longer comment to share). Thanks!


You hit most of them. Turning off auto-upload and computer vision are the two major ones. Also, if you’re in an area with a poor data connection, turn on airplane mode to avoid draining your battery (the GPS will still work in my experience, but it’s worth testing before doing a big trip)

My only other suggestions are meditation, and if that fails, Xanax.


Having a poor upload speed, I have to cap the maximum upload speed at 350kb/s on Chrome through the “Network Throttling Profiles” option when using the uploader. That way I can still use the internet for something else while background-uploading my observations of the day (usually takes 30min for 20-30 observations) …

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Would these suggestions solve the dreaded photo drop-out problem where I then have to restart from the beginning?

Not sure what that is. Maybe submit a bug report?

Thanks for helping expand this @karoopixie :)