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.

You can only merge ATLAS.ti desktop and ATLAS.ti Web projects if the projects contain different documents and codes!

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.

Comments in a Project Merge 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.

To begin the merge process:

Open the Master project.

Select File > Merge.
You have the option to select either a project, or a project bundle file.

If you have previously imported the bundle files of all team members, select Merge Project, otherwise Merge Project Bundle.

Select a project from the list offered by ATLAS.ti, or load a project bundle file.

If you have a long list of projects, just enter the first few letters of the project name into the Search field.

Project Merge Dialogue

You have the option to create a snapshot of the current project before merging. There may be times, when you want or need to go back to an older version of your project. The default name for snapshot project is: project name (Snapshot--date-time).

After selecting a project or project bundle, click on the Merge button.

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

If there are no conflicts, you can proceed with merging the two projects by clicking Merge.

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

  • Keep: the Master project 'wins', and the changes made in the Import project are ignored.
  • Override: the version in the Master project will be overridden, 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 changed the code colour, comment or code name. As project administrator, you will have to decide whether to accept these changes or not. In the example below the code color for a number of codes and two code labels are different in the Master and Import project. The project administrator has decided to keep the changes from the import project and selected Override. All entries in the column Import are shown in bold as this is what will used in the merged project.

Project Merge Dialogue

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

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 codes that you want to merge, right click and select the Merge Codes option from the context menu, or click on the Merge Codes button in the ribbon.

Merging Users

If you realize that usernames have been duplicated during the merge process, you can merge them as follows:

Select the Tools tab and from there Manage Users.

To merge two users drag the username that you want to get rid of onto the username that you want to keep.

Merging Users