Merging Projects

The Master project is the project into which another project, called the Import project is merged. The Master project has to be loaded first before invoking the Merge Project option.

The default option is to unify all entities that are identical, and to add all other items that do not yet exist in the Master project.

Identical Entities Explained

When an entity is created in ATLAS.ti - regardless if it is a document, a code, a quotation, a memo, a network, a group, or a comment - this entity receives a unique ID, comparable to a fingerprint.

When merging projects, ATLAS.ti compares the IDs of the various entities. If they have the same ID, they are unified. If the ID is not the same, they are added. Thus, the name of an entity is not the decisive factor.

For example: If a user Tom has created a code with the name sunshine, and a user Anne also has created a code with the same sunshine in her project, these two codes are not identical as they have been created on different computers and in different project. Therefore, they will have a different ID.

If you merge Tom's and Anne's project, the merged project will contain two codes: sunshine and sunshine (2). If the meaning of both codes is the same, and you want to keep one sunshine code only, you can merge the two codes manually. See also Housekeeping below.

Groups are Additive

A Group B with documents {1, 2, 3} in the Master project merged with a Group B containing documents {3, 4} in the Import project will result in Group B= {1, 2, 3, 4}) in the merged project.

Groups in a Project Merge

Entities with and without Comments

If there is a code C in the Master project that has no comment, and a code C in the Import project that has a comment, the merged procedure will add this comment to the merged project.

Comments in a Project Merge

In the case of an unsolvable conflict - code C in the Master project has a comment, and code C in the Import project also has a comment - the user can define which of the two conflicting entities will win.

Conflict when merging comments

If the comment of the Master project should be kept, you need to select the option Keep. If the comment of the Import project should be kept, you need to select the option Override.

Currently you can only decide for all conflicts whether the Master project should "win", or the import project.

Handling of Deleted Entities

It is not possible to subtract entities.

If one team member has deleted a code or some codings, and these entities still exist in another project, the merged project will contain those codes or codings again.

Project Merge cannot "substract"

If you want to clean up a project, this is best done in a fresh Master-project after merging and before distributing the new Master-file to all team members.

How to Merge

The Merge Tool reunites projects that were originally divided for analytical or economic reasons. It brings together the contributions of different members of a research team.

Before you merge, the recommendation is that you import all project bundle files first and take a look at the projects. If a conflict arises during the process of merging, you need to decide whether to keep the version in the Master or the Import project. If you do not know what is contained in import project, you cannot make an informed decision. Principally, it is possible to merge project bundle files without importing them prior to merging.

In ATLAS.ti Mac, you always merge a project bundle file.

To begin the merge process:

Open the Master project.

Select Project > Merge with Project. Select a project bundle file and click Open. The merge process starts.

ATLAS.ti checks the two projects for identical and different items. After this process is completed, you see a summary.

If there are conflicts between the Master project, and the project that you import, you can solve the conflict in two ways:

  • Keep current version: the Master project 'wins', and the changes made in the Import project are ignored.

  • Overwrite: the version in the Master project will be overwritten, and the changes made in the Import project 'win'.

If all team members have been coding different documents, merge conflicts are unlikely to occur.

A conflict could arise, for instance, if someone has modified a document or code group, or modified a comment. As project administrator, you will have to decide whether to accept these changes or not.

You currently cannot chose for each conflict how to solve it. All conflicts need to be solved by either selecting the strategy 'keep current version', or the strategy 'Overwrite'.

After merging, check the final merge report, and the merged project for plausibility. If you are satisfied with the results, save the project. If not, you can always select Undo.

If applicable, continue with merging the next sub-project or project bundle file.

A common mistake is that team members set up their own projects, adding documents and codes. This will result in duplicated documents and codes after merging. Issues around duplicated codes you can solve yourself by merging those codes (see below Housekeeping). You can however not merge duplicated documents. Please follow the recommended workflow described under Team Work.


After merging all projects, the project administrator may need to perform some housekeeping work, such as:

  • cleaning up the code list
  • adding or modifying code groups
  • adding a memo with information for the team
  • adding new documents and document groups

Merging Duplicate Codes

You need to do some housekeeping if you find duplicate codes in the merged project. This can happen, for instance, if team members independently have added codes that have the same name. As these codes have been created in different projects, they have different IDs and therefore they are added, not merged. The naming convention for duplicate codes is as follows:

  • code A
  • code A (2)

Duplicate codes can be merged as follows:

Open the Code Manager. Highlight the code(s) that you want to merge and drag them to the code you want to keep. Select Merge code ... into ... from the menu that pops up.