Importing data into FileMaker Pro

When you import data, you bring data from another source (usually a file) into an existing FileMaker Pro file.

FileMaker Pro can import many different file formats. See Supported import/export file formats.

If FileMaker Pro does not support the format of a particular application, you may be able to export data from that application into a format that FileMaker Pro supports, and then import that file. For example, FileMaker Pro does not import Microsoft Access files, but you could export the data from Microsoft Access to Microsoft Excel, and then import that file.

The source file does not need to have the same number of fields in the same order as the FileMaker Pro target file. During the import process, you can choose the target fields so that the source data imports into the correct fields, and you can skip fields that you don’t want to import.

Note  To create a new FileMaker Pro file from another file format, see Converting a data file to a new FileMaker Pro file.

Methods of importing data into an existing file

There are three ways to import data into an existing file:

  • add new records to the file
  • update matching records in the file
  • replace existing records in the file

These options, described below, are available in the Import Field Mapping dialog box when you import data into an existing file. See Importing data into an existing file.

Important  The options that update or replace records overwrite data in the target file and cannot be undone. To safeguard your data, choose File menu > Save a Copy As to make a backup copy of the target FileMaker Pro file. You can do this only for a local file (located on your computer).

Adding records

When you add records, the import process creates a new record in the target file for each importable record in the source file and imports the fields you select.

When you add records from most source file formats, the import process adds all the records from the source file.

Concept art of adding records for import

Updating matching records

When you update matching records, matching records and fields in the target file are updated with data from the source file. For example, you might have a copy of a database on your desktop computer and another copy on your laptop computer. You can update the file in your office with the changes you make on the road.

You determine which records in the source file update which records in the target file by choosing one or more match fields in each file. If data in the match field(s) of a record in the target file matches data in the match field(s) of a record in the source file, the record in the target file will be updated with data from the source file.

Concept art of updating records for import

Match fields must uniquely identify each entity in your database. For example, in a database of people, you could use one match field such as an Employee Number, or multiple match fields such as Last Name, First Name, and Phone Number. (Using Last Name alone might identify more than one person, so it isn’t a good match field to use by itself.)

You also select which fields to import. The contents of all fields you select, in all matching records, will overwrite data in the target file, even if the field in the source file is blank.

When the target file contains a found set, only the found records are updated.

The following table shows an example of how a record in a target file appears before and after being updated by a matching record in a source file. In the Mapping column, Match Field indicates a match field, Import indicates to import the field, and Don’t Import indicates not to import the field.

Source file

Mapping

Target file

Result

123-456-7890

Match Field

123-456-7890

123-456-7890

John

Don’t Import

John

John

Q

Import

 

Q

Smith

Don’t Import

Smith

Smith

456 New Rd.

Import

123 Main St.

456 New Rd.

Newtown

Import

Anytown

Newtown

USA

Import

USA

USA

 

Don’t Import

3/3/1960

3/3/1960

 

Import

(408) 555-6789

 

Replacing existing records

When you replace existing records, data in the target file is replaced with data from the source file. For each field you import into, data from the first importable record (or row of data) in the source file overwrites fields in the first record in the target file. Data from the second importable record (or row of data) in the source file overwrites fields in the second record in the target file, and so on. When you replace data, FileMaker Pro doesn’t examine or compare the data in the files.

You can choose whether or not to replace data on a field-by-field basis.

Concept art of replacing records for import

Records in the target file are replaced with the same number of records from the source file. If there are more importable records in the source file, data from the extra records in the source file will not be imported unless you also choose Add remaining data as new records. If there are more records in the target file, data in the extra records in the target file will not be replaced.

Notes 

  • You can only import data into a single table at a time. To import data into related fields, import data directly into the table that contains the related field.
  • If the source file is a FileMaker Pro file with multiple tables, you can only import data from a single table at a time. To import fields from related tables, import directly from the table that contains the field.
  • If the source file is a FileMaker Pro file, you can import only the records in the found set and skip importing the omitted records. See FileMaker Pro format.
  • To ensure that imported data is correctly formatted, you can define fields so that data is validated as it is imported. During import, data is skipped when it does not conform to the validation options you set. See About validating data during import.
  • If you routinely import data from the same source, you can automate the process by setting up recurring imports or by creating a script that uses the Import Records script step. See Setting up recurring imports and Automating tasks with scripts.