Work with projects on Windows or Mac

NVivo for Windows and NVivo for Mac are separate software applications. The projects have a different file format.

  • NVivo 12 for Windows (.nvp)
  • NVivo for Mac (Version 12) (.nvpx)

You can convert a project from one file format to the other using the project converter available in NVivo 12 for Windows.

Understand project file formats

Projects created on the Mac platform have a larger maximum file size than Windows projects. If the size of your Mac project exceeds 10GB you may not be able to open it in NVivo for Windows.

You cannot open a project created in the Windows format (.nvp) in the Mac platform—you will need to convert it to the NVivo for Mac format first. You can do this using the 'copy project' feature. You can also export selected items from an NVivo 12 for Windows project to a new NVivo for Mac (Version 12) project.

You can open an NVivo project created on the Mac platform (.nvpx) in Windows and it will be converted into the Windows format (.nvp) for you. Alternatively, you can import the content from an NVivo for Mac project into an NVivo for Windows project.

If you want to convert an NVivo for Mac (Version 11) project to the NVivo 12 for Windows format, you must first open (and upgrade) the project using NVivo for Mac (Version 12), then convert the project using NVivo 12 for Windows.

NOTE  NVivo for Mac has a subset of the features available in NVivo 12 for Windows. If you convert your Windows project and access it on the Mac platform, you may not be able to work with all your project items.

CAUTION   If a file in the original NVivo for Windows project contained 'see also' links, then do not edit the file in NVivo for Mac—otherwise, all 'see also' links in the file will be permanently deleted. Always ensure you are on the latest version of the software—future versions may address this limitation.

Can I work with a project on Windows and Mac?

It is possible to work with a project on both Windows and Mac (cross-platform), however, we recommend that you work with your project on a single platform due to some known limitations and issues.

Can we work as a team with some users on Windows and others on Mac?

We recommend that all team members use the same version of the software (and do not work cross-platform) due to some known limitations and issues.

  • NVivo for Mac has a subset of the features available on the NVivo 12 for Windows platform. If you convert your NVivo 12 for Windows project and access it on the Mac, you may not be able to work with all your project items.
  • If a file in the original NVivo for Windows project contained 'see also' links, then editing the file in NVivo for Mac will cause the 'see also' links to be permanently deleted.
  • There may be slight differences between NVivo for Windows and NVivo for Mac in the coding coverage percentages displayed. This is due to differences in the handling of blank spaces when calculating coding coverage.
  • File links must be updated each time you convert a project—refer to Understand why file links must be updated in converted projects for more information.
  • Some queries created in NVivo for Windows will not run in a converted project in NVivo for Mac. For more information, refer to Understand why some queries will not run in converted projects.
  • Project conversion can take a long time depending on the number of documents and PDFs and the amount of coding. We are working on compatible project file formats in the future that will not require conversion.

In addition, you may experience the following issues when working with projects cross-platform:

  • A corrupt PDF file (that is, a PDF file that could not be opened with Adobe Reader) was successfully imported and coded in an NVivo for Windows project. However, the PDF could not be opened in a project converted to NVivo for Mac format
  • Certain documents in an NVivo for Mac project failed to convert when the project was converted to NVivo for Windows format. These documents also could not be exported from NVivo for Mac to .doc or .docx format.
  • If you code documents that contain embedded images or complex tables in NVivo for Mac, and then open the project in NVivo for Windows, you may experience problems when you open the node. You can avoid these problems by converting documents with embedded images or complex tables into PDF files before importing them into your project.
  • Executing multiple project conversions during the same session can slow the conversion process or cause the conversion to fail. Rebooting the computer between project conversion can improve performance.

If you decide to work with a project cross-platform, knowing these limitations, we recommend that you import all files into the Windows project. Furthermore, if you are working in a team, the Windows project should be the 'master project' because the Windows version of the software has the full feature set.

Always ensure you are on the latest version of the software—future versions may address many of these limitations.

Why does my converted Windows project look different on Mac?

When you open a converted project in NVivo for Mac, items that are not supported on the Mac version of the software are hidden.

If your project contains Search Folders or queries that are not yet available in the Mac version of the software (for example, compound queries), you will notice that:

  • You cannot see the Search Folders in Navigation View
  • You cannot see these queries in List View
  • Queries will only search items that are visible in your project. If the scope of a query is defined by a Search Folder it will not return any results

Annotations are only supported for documents, PDFs, externals and memos. If your project contains annotations in audios, videos, pictures or datasets, then you will notice that:

  • You cannot see these annotations in these files
  • You cannot see these annotations in the Annotations folder in Navigation View.

Other project items (for example, maps and reports) that are not available are also hidden.

If you open the project in NVivo for Windows you will be able to see everything again.

IMPORTANT   Do not delete folders that appear to be empty when you are working with a converted project, because the folder may contain hidden project items. For example, framework matrices are not supported in NVivo for Mac, so a folder that only contains framework matrices will appear to be empty when viewed in NVivo for Mac.

Update file links in converted projects

The Windows and Mac operating systems use different formats for file links. This means that if you convert your Windows project and open it in NVivo for Mac (or vice versa), you will not be able to access linked files unless you update the file links.

Within NVivo you can create links to files outside your project in the following ways:

  • External files that link to a file
  • Audio and video files with media files stored outside the project (not embedded)
  • Hyperlinks within documents and memos to files

When you convert a project from Windows to Mac format, you will need to update the file links (in the item's properties) if you want to access the files.

Why do Coding Comparison queries produce different results in a converted project?

If a converted project has a Coding Comparison query, you may find that when you run the query in NVivo for Mac, you get different results than if you ran the query in NVivo for Windows.

Coding Comparison queries in NVivo for Mac currently support documents, memos, and externals as file types. Coding Comparison queries in NVivo for Windows support additional file types—for example, pictures, audio and video. If the Coding Comparison query criteria is defined using All Files, then the query results may be different in NVivo for Mac.

NVivo for Windows supports additional node types (relationships and sentiment nodes) that are not available in NVivo for Mac. If the original Coding Comparison query criteria is defined using All Nodes, then the query results may be different in NVivo for Mac.

We recommend that you create new queries for your converted project within NVivo for Mac. Queries

Can I connect to NVivo Server from a Mac?

No, you cannot connect to NVivo Server from NVivo for Mac.

If you have an NVivo Server project that you want to work with on the Mac as a standalone project, you need to convert it to Mac project format (.nvpx) using NVivo for Windows.

If you have an Mac project that you want to store on the server, you need to first convert the project to Windows format (.nvp) using NVivo for Windows.