Using Microsoft Word's mail merge to display images from exported CSV list of observations that includes image URLs

This is a slightly different alternative to the method described in This new method should work with modern (post-2003) Microsoft Word document formats.

When you export a list of observations from iNaturalist, the images are delivered only as URL references. So if you wanted to see the images in your list, in context with the rest of the details for each observation, you’d have to somehow download the images and match each one up with the rest of the fields for each observation.

There are many ways to do this, but here I’ll describe a way for Microsoft Word users to accomplish this using Word’s mail merge feature. I’ll assume that you already have a CSV file that includes image URLs. For this example, I’ll use a CSV file that contains the following data:


To do the mail merge:

  1. Open up a blank document in Word
  2. Select Mailings > Start a Mail Merge > Normal Word Document… (or choose whatever other kind of document template you prefer)
  3. Select Mailings > Select Recipients > Use an Existing List…
  4. Find and select your CSV file.
  5. When prompted to Select a Table from the file, just stick with the default settings like so:
  6. Now in your document, create a basic layout for how you want to display each observation.
    a. To keep it simple, I’ll add “ID:” and “Photo:” labels to the document.
    b. Then, I’ll go to Mailings > Insert Mail Merge Fields, and then select and place the fields as desired.
  7. Press Alt+F9 to toggle View Codes on. The layout now looks like this:
  8. In the document, highlight the text that represents your image URL field. in my case, it’s { MERGEFIELD url }. Now press Ctrl+F9 to nest that field into another field. Visually, this will add another set of curly braces {} around your original field like so:
  9. After the first left curly brace { in your selection, type IF TRUE:
  10. Now make sure your updated field is selected, and press CTRL+F9 again to nest it in another field.
    a. after the first left curly brace {, type INCLUDEPICTURE
    b. before the last right curly brace }, type \d
  11. Press Alt+F9 to toggle View Codes off.
  12. Go to Mailings > Preview Results, and you should see that the image for the first observation for your set is shown in your document:
  13. (optional) At this point, you can save this document as a template to format future sets of observations, if you like.
  14. Now, to get all the observations with photos into a new document, go to Mailings > Finish & Merge > Edit Individual Documents…
  15. You now have a new document with your observations + photos that you can modify further and save you as you like: