34 Replies Latest reply: Apr 27, 2015 1:27 PM by Vicious Celery RSS

    Data Merge Image Paths

    Michael Gianino Community Member

      I'm using CS5 on Mac OS 10.5 and 10.6 at work (I'm at home now, so I can't be more specific at the moment), and experimenting with Data Merge. I place an image, and use the "copy full path" feature in the links manager and paste it into my spreadsheet. When I do the actual merge, it works (the image is imported with the merge) if the path leads to a folder on my hard drive, but not if the path leads to an external drive.


      Does anyone know if the path that the links manager creates is the wrong syntax for using data merge? If so, is there some place where I can read the "rules" of how the text string should look?

        • 1. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
          Steve Werner ACP/MVPs

          I don't know that I've ever seen the syntax defined. However, as a workaround, why don't you put the images on your hard drive, and use Data Merge to create the InDesign file. Then use the Links panel in InDesign to relink the images to those on your hard drive.

          • 2. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
            Michael Gianino Community Member

            In short, that wouldn't be practical. There will be hundreds or thousands of images.

            • 3. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
              Steve Werner ACP/MVPs

              Here is the syntax as defined in InDesign Help:


              http://help.adobe.com/en_US/indesign/cs/using/WSa285fff53dea4f8617383751001ea8cb3f-6c3ca.h tml


              Click on the Add image fields to the data source file link.


              If it's not working for an external drive, it could unfortunately be a bug.

              • 4. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                Michael Gianino Community Member

                I've already been there. The examples show images on the HD, which I have no trouble with. It's just not working from the external drive.

                • 5. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                  Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                  I think this is probably a drive mapping issue, and ID is fussy about paths. Select a file onthe external drive and see what the path is on the second machine, then do a find/change on the text file to fix the path statements and save a second copy so you can use one for each machine.

                  • 6. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                    Michael Gianino Community Member

                    I'm not sure I follow you, but I've only tried this on one machine so far. That would probably work if the path began with "Bills Mac" and you were trying from "Steves Mac," but it doesn't work from Bill's Mac either.

                    • 7. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                      Steve Werner ACP/MVPs

                      I found this old thread pertaining to CS3, but the limitation may still hold today:




                      It suggests the InDesign file, the Excel file and the images all need to be on the same drive.

                      • 8. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                        Michael Gianino Community Member

                        I'll try saving the ID and text files to the external when I get back to work.

                        • 9. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                          Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                          What does the path in a single line look like in the text file now?


                          If you manually place that image on the second machine, and copy the path to the clipbaord, what do you see? Are they identical?

                          • 10. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                            Michael Gianino Community Member

                            Sorry, but as of yet, there has been no second machine. Just one machine with an external USB drive.


                            To get the path, I'm placing an image from the HD into a new ID document, clicking on the image in the links manager, and selecting "copy full path" from the links manager's fly-out. It works if I place images from a folder on my internal HD, but when I try from the USB drive, I get an error message that ID couldn't locate the images.


                            I'm not at work now, but I'll post the exact path to the forum when I can (I work nights, so it will be a while).

                            • 11. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                              Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                              You've confused me. What's on the USB drive, the images, or the text file? Is the path in the text file referring to the hard drive of the machine into which it's been plugged?


                              I think Macs do some strange addressing stuff with USB, but I'm a PC guy.

                              • 12. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                Michael Gianino Community Member

                                Sorry to have confused you. The office has several workstations—all Macs with some form of 10.5, but one (the one I use) that has some form of 10.6 (sorry that I can't be more specific now, but I'm at home). All machines are supposed to go up to 10.6 at some point, but I'm not the administrator, so I can only ask for any software updating—I can't do it myself.


                                There is a PC server, but for some reason, they use an external USB drive for archiving. It would probably make sense to always have the USB drive hooked up to the same machine, but it would be more flexible if it could be carried to any machine, should the main one be tied up by something else.


                                It is from the archives that the images for this job (a 12-24 page ad sheet that publishes every two weeks) will be taken. Images are located in 11 folders, depending on the SKU of the product in the ad. I'm looking to introduce Data Merge into the mix so that we can get a whole page's worth of ads from a data sheet, rather than looking up each ad by SKU and copy/pasting from the archive. The hope is to pick SKUs from a database, assemble them by page into tab-delimited text files, and use Data Merge to bring each ad into a text frame, with any associated product image or logos.


                                So, at this point, the only problem is that the path that I copy from the links manager returns an error when the images are on the USB drive, while the same method works if the image is on the HD.

                                • 13. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                  Michael Gianino Community Member

                                  A little more info:


                                  I'm using an iMac with 10.6.6, and I haven't tried on the other iMacs that run 10.5.8. InDesign is CS5 (7.0.3). Here is what the paths look like when copied from the links manager:


                                  HD, root level:
                                  /204983 SS Pkt Tees.tif


                                  In a folder on the root  level of the HD:
                                  /Links/204983 SS Pkt Tees.tif


                                  On the desktop in a folder:
                                  /Users/carol/Desktop/Links/204983 SS Pkt Tees.tif


                                  On a removable USB drive, a few folders in:
                                  /Volumes/USB_External/Archives/2s/204983/Links/204983 SS Pkt Tees.tif


                                  On a PC server:
                                  /Volumes/Shared Folder/ClientFolder/AdDate/Page7/Links/204983 SS Pkt Tees.tif


                                  I also noticed that in the help files, the PC example used the backslashes as separators, and the Mac example used colons. I tried swapping out the colons, but no joy. I tried saving the text file and the ID file in the same folder as the links folder, but the only thing that worked was to have the links all out in the same level as the ID and text, rather than being in a links folder. This obviously won't be good for me if I can't get Data Merge to work by pulling images from various folders. Any thoughts?

                                  • 14. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                    Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                                    Can you give the external drive a name? I don't know if that would help. It may also matter which USB port it plugs into.

                                    • 15. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                      Michael Gianino Community Member

                                      The name of the drive is actually the name of the company I work for, but I changed it for the forum.

                                      • 16. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                        Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                                        I'm about out of ideas. As I mentioned earlier, I'm a PC guy. I do know that 10.5 was flaky about recognizing usb drives. My daughter has an old G4 MacBook Pro that got upgraded to Leopard by Apple when they replaced a bad hard drive. It never read a flash drive again, and searching Google revealed this to be a pretty common problem. Not sure about the external hard drive she uses for backup.

                                        • 17. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                          afsdfasg Community Member

                                          Two things to possibly consider:

                                          – spaces in filename. Can be problematic with csv files

                                          – file system of the hard drive. Possible issue if accessing NTFS drive? NTFS3G may help


                                          Does it work with USB drive connected to your computer? (beware potential for data loss with cross-platform drives)

                                          • 18. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                            John Hawkinson Community Member

                                            Wow, I'm a little bit late to the party, but it looks to me like we're missing some information here.

                                            What's the exact path you are using in the spreadsheet?


                                            On a Mac, there are (at least) 2 kinds of paths: the colon path and the unix (slashes) path. They are not the same. InDesign wants the colon path in the Spreadsheet according to the documentation, but appears to be giving you the unix path, and maybe that sometimes works.


                                            Generally speaking they are quite similar. The colon path starts with the name of the drive and then directory names with sepeators. The unix path does not.


                                            So, for your USB drive, the colon path should be: "USB_External:Archives:2s:204983:Links:204983 SS Pkt Tees.tif".

                                            Please note that for the desktop folder, etc, the colon path is different -- it needs your hard drive name in it. Stuff like: "Macintosh HD:Users:carol:Desktop:Links:204983 SS Pkt Tees.tif"


                                            At this point, I speculate that unix paths work fine when they can be converted to colon paths by prefixing "Macintosh HD:" and changing the slashes to colons. But that's not how it works for external volumes.


                                            I sincerely doubt that spaces in the filename are the problem, but that's easy enough to test.

                                            • 19. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                              John Hawkinson Community Member

                                              Hi, Michael. Did my suggestion work?    

                                              • 20. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                Michael Gianino Community Member

                                                John Hawkinson wrote:

                                                What's the exact path you are using in the spreadsheet?

                                                Sorry, but I didn't see your reply until just now. I haven't checked the forum for a while. The paths that I copied from the ID links manager were pasted directly into the spreadsheet. I tried with the slashes and by using find/change to convert the slashes to colons, but neither worked. I work the night shift, so I'll try your suggestion tonight, and maybe be able to post back tomorrow.

                                                • 21. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                  John Hawkinson Community Member

                                                  Oh right, two addenda:


                                                  1) I guess the preferred term is POSIX Path, not "unix path." Sorry about that.

                                                  2) You should be able to work around this problem with a symbolic link. But try my solution first...symlinks are kind of confusing and you'll need to create them by hand in the Terminal.

                                                  • 22. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                    rudy713 Community Member

                                                    Hi Michael.

                                                    I am having this issue also.

                                                    I work at a corporation that houses all of our assets on our "Creative" server. (so, local paths are out of the question as this workflow needs to be available to any workstation).

                                                    I have found that images will only import IF the .csv file resides in the same folder as the images. Of course, we have the images spread across many folders, so this quickly breaks down. The InDesign file, itself, does not seem to matter where it resides.

                                                    It seems that the only solution will be to create a separate folder holding all of the images. This will necessitate having a duplicate set of images on our server which, in a corporate setting, is a horrible solution. There should only be one version of each image.

                                                    • 23. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                      Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                                                      This is totally off the wall, but what happens if you put a folder with aliases to the real images in the same folder with the .csv?

                                                      • 24. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                        rudy713 Community Member

                                                        That is actually worth a shot. Very good. Thanks Peter. I will let you know what happens.

                                                        • 25. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                          Mr. Met Community Member

                                                          Aside from the path issue, if you're accessing images, text files and data from spreadsheets (11 folders, IIRC), you may want to look into dedicated data merge plug-ins from woodwing or em software.

                                                          • 26. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                            John Hawkinson Community Member

                                                            This is totally off the wall, but what happens if you put a folder with aliases to the real images in the same folder with the .csv?

                                                            I don't know why you think it's totally off the wall! It seems totally reasonable.


                                                            I'd love to hear if anyone tried my suggestions earlier in the thread and whether they worked...or more details from the recent posters on exactly what paths they are trying that fail...


                                                            Symbolic links should certainly work. Whether aliases will work will depend on how InDesign reads the files...under Mac OS X, aliases are special files whose contents tells the reader what file to read instead. Whereas symbolic links are inplemented in the file system. So symlinks should always work without application support. Aliases not so much...

                                                            • 27. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                              Migintosh Community Member

                                                              For reasons unrelated to how effective DataMerge is or is not, I decided that it wouldn't really work for the project I was doing, so I haven't been experimenting with it for a while, but I got some free time tonight and thought I'd update you all.


                                                              I changed from using Links Manager>Copy Info>Copy Full Path to Links Manager>Copy Info>Copy Platform Style Path, and was able to gather images from my local drive, a network drive, and an external USB drive without any trouble. I'm not sure why I either didn't try it before, or maybe I did, but made a mistake. Either way, the trouble I was having that inspired me to start this thread is solved for me. Maybe anyone else trying should give Copy Platform Style Path a try and see if it works for you.


                                                              I still don't know how to delete the placeholders that are generated by DataMerge when encountering an empty field. They don't effect the layout or printing, but sometimes if you click in the text and select via shift and the arrow key (counting the characters as you go), you might select one of these placeholders instead of the character you really wanted, and that will throw you off. Also, I like to keep a clean layout, and something that doesn't do anything—regardless of how innocuous it is otherwise—is something I'd rather do without.


                                                              Anyway, cheers.


                                                              P.S., I couldn't remember my current log-in, but did remember a really old one, so I just wanted to clear up that I'm really Michael Gianino and not some other poster. You can call me Mig if you like (most do).

                                                              • 28. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                                rudy713 Community Member

                                                                Thanks for this. You know, I tried the "platform style" before and it did not work. Upon reading your posting this morning, I decided to try it again. Guess what? It worked. I must have been doing something else wrong before when I tried it. It is all good now. Thanks so much Michael. Call this one "solved" for me! -Rudy

                                                                • 29. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                                  Amy Schultz Community Member

                                                                  Glad I found this post - it's been rather informative. Here's hoping you and others take a look at this post again.


                                                                  I'm doing a very similar project and have the same trouble with file paths using various files on a network drive. I did try the Copy Platform Style Path, and pasted that into my csv file, but it didn't seem to work with DataMerge ("...one or more missing images..."). You and Rudy both say you tried it once with no luck and then it randomly worked the next time. Were there any changes to your files or their locations to make it work?


                                                                  My template indd file and csv file are on the same network drive as all the images I'll be linking, so it seems odd to still have issues with file paths.


                                                                  I'm on OS 10.5.8, using CS4.

                                                                  • 30. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                                    matt_opsal Community Member


                                                                       For Network Data Merges, use Links Manager>Copy Info>Copy Full Path and replace the forward slashes "/" with colons ":". Remove the first forward slash before "Volumes".


                                                                    For example, I was testing images located on a network drive "/Volumes/Data/Temp JUNK FILES/Pics/black.jpg". This was the path that was given to me via "Copy Full Path". Changing the file path to "Volumes:Data:Temp JUNK FILES:Pics:black.jpg" worked perfectly and all of the images came through via the Data Merge.


                                                                    This should also work for external drives (USB/Firewire/etc) because Mac OS X mounts drives through "/Volumes" as a system path (Unix).



                                                                    • 31. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                                      deivisali Community Member

                                                                      Is not a URL problem, this not work because all images and datasource files needs to stay in the same folder.

                                                                      Put aliases not works for me.

                                                                      • 32. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                                        Vicious Celery Community Member

                                                                        Has anyone experienced trouble with relative file paths since updating from CC to CC 2014?


                                                                        We do class certificates with data merge, and pull in client logos and backgrounds. The template that I set up a few years ago has always worked, and still works in CC. But when using CC 2014, it fails to find both images. It works if I move the images to the same folder as the csv, but it can no longer find them when they are in their respective folders. We work on macs, and I have experimented with going back to the old form of using colons, dropping the "/" in front of the folder name, etc. Nothing seems to work.


                                                                        Sample filepath: (under heading @Company Logo)




                                                                        -this exact path will work in CC, but not CC 2014.

                                                                        -this exact file will work if I locate it next to the .csv, and change the file path accordingly (acmeAnvils.png)

                                                                        -it's not practical not to use folders; we have soooo many client logos and backgrounds that keeping everything in the same directory would be a mess

                                                                        -It's important to our workflow be able to use relative file paths.


                                                                        Other versions of the filepath I have tried:





                                                                        Any ideas would be really appreciated!

                                                                        Thank you!

                                                                        • 33. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                                          SamShoemaker Community Member

                                                                          Yes!! It is so frustrating! I have to use my old version of InDesign (CS5) to do all my data merges that have images saved in multiple folders.


                                                                          If anyone has any ideas see below for the image error message that I, and my whole art department staff, get in CC 2014.


                                                                          I have read through this thread and tried all suggestions... Please help!!




                                                                          Data Source File: Karns TV Template-Week 219.csv

                                                                          Target Document: Top10TV - Small.indd


                                                                          Report Generated: 2/2/15 9:22 AM


                                                                          1) Volumes:ArtClients:GROCERY STORE SIGNAGE::-Grocery Photos:Seafood:Salmon Fresh Chilean Fillets.jpg

                                                                          2) Volumes:ArtClients:GROCERY STORE SIGNAGE::-Grocery Photos:Meat-NEW:Pork Loin Whole Bone in Raw.jpg

                                                                          3) Volumes:ArtClients:GROCERY STORE SIGNAGE::-Grocery Photos:Meat-NEW:Chicken Leg Quarter-Raw on Cutting Board.jpg

                                                                          4) Volumes:ArtClients:GROCERY STORE SIGNAGE::-Grocery Photos:Meat-NEW:New-York-Strip-Steak-USDA.psd

                                                                          5) Volumes:ArtClients:GROCERY STORE SIGNAGE::-Grocery Photos:Meat-NEW:Pork Chops Center Cut Rib.jpg

                                                                          6) Volumes:ArtClients:GROCERY STORE SIGNAGE::-Grocery Photos:Deli-NEW:Roast Beef Sandwich.eps

                                                                          7) Volumes:ArtClients:GROCERY STORE SIGNAGE::-Grocery Photos:Produce-Veggies:Apples-Variety.jpg

                                                                          8) Volumes:ArtClients:GROCERY STORE SIGNAGE::-Grocery Photos:Beverages:Nestle Pure Life Water 24 count 16.9 oz 6827493471.eps

                                                                          9) Volumes:ArtClients:GROCERY STORE SIGNAGE::-Grocery Photos:Dairy:Sargento Shredded Cheese Mozzarella 8 oz.eps

                                                                          10) Volumes:ArtClients:GROCERY STORE SIGNAGE::-Grocery Photos:Baking Goods:Essential Everyday Pure Granulated Sugar 4 Lbs 4130301545.eps



                                                                          • 34. Re: Data Merge Image Paths
                                                                            Vicious Celery Community Member

                                                                            Great news! It seems to be resolved. I don't know which update, but we just (accidentally) tried CC 2014 again, and it works now.


                                                                            Thanks, whoever fixed this!