Atlas.ti in 10 steps

What is it?

Atlas.ti is a tool for qualitative analysis.  It is available on both Windows and Mac.  ‘In its central conceptual underpinnings, ATLAS.ti has drawn deliberately from what might be called the “paper and pencil paradigm.” The user interface is designed accordingly, and many of its processes are based on—and thus can be better understood by—this analogy.’ Learn more at:

Why use it?

It can help you find relationships in unstructured data and organize your research creating searchable topics that you have been collecting resources about.

Get started

Watch a tutorial or attend a webinar.

Quick Tour:

Learn about how Atlas manages files

  • Mac — Per Atlas support, The files are copied when they are assigned ("imported") into your project in a similar way to how iTunes works. The original still remain "untouched" in their original location. You can export the project to xml or atlas version as a back up in the same way that you do for Windows.
  • Windows —

NOTES from Export Your Complete Project to Virtually ANY Application or Software: SPSS, Excel, and HTML are standard export formats for your projects. But they by no means exhaust the possibilities for integration with your IT demands. Through its native XML output and assisted by an extensive number of XSLT-filters that come included in the package, ATLAS.ti can export your complete data to virtually ANY application. The official XML schema is available here: atlasti_hu_2.2  [Note about the note: The Mac version appears only to support atlas and xml formats.]

Learn some vocabulary

  • Hermeneutic Unit (HU) is an intelligent “container” that keeps track of all of your data which maintains the pathways to your source data and stores the codes, code families, network views, etc. that you develop in the course of your work. Your data sources, except when explicitly working with embedded documents, are copied and stored in a repository. The standard option in ATLAS.ti 7 is to manage the documents for you. The option to link external documents is still available and recommendable if you work with larger video files.
  • Source data can include text documents, images, audio recordings, video clips, PDF files and even geographic data.
  • Once you have source data added or linked you can continue on to coding categories, concepts, or “codes” to segments of information that are of interest to your research objectives.  This is equivalent to highlighting (marking) and annotating your documents individually.
  • The margin area makes use of the style of “paper and pencil” annotation to relate and analyze your collected files.
  • Associated documents were first introduced in ATLAS.ti 6 and can be used for text, audio and video files. The purpose is to link a text document, e.g. a transcript of an interview, to an audio or video file via time marks. You can then listen to the original audio file or watch the video while you go through the transcript. Or you can select a piece of the transcript, e.g., a coded segment and immediately play the associated audio or video segment. You may also use the time marks to navigate through a document.

Create a project

See samples at:

Add files to it

Use the document menu in Atlas.ti to add files.

Code text from files in your project

See and

  • If you use the code manager, you must have codes already in the code manager.
  • If you don’t have codes in code manager, creating them is rather straight forward.
  • Coding is like meta tagging data so thinking about what you want to code before you start can be a good idea.

Explore and query your data

  • This video shows the windows version: but the quick tour pdf mentioned in Step 4 gives 4 ways to look at your data.
    1. First, Double-click on a code in the Code Manager to call up a list of its quotations.
      • Simple retrieval: From the Code Manager's menu, select OUTPUT / QUOTATIONS FOR SELECTED CODE(S).
    2. The next three all use ANALYSIS then either Code Coherence Table on Mac or QUERY TOOL on Windows Learn how you generally query your data based on the query tool.
      • Complex retrievals with the query tool
      • Codes-Codes Matrices (the Cooccurence Explorer)
      • Codes-Documents Matrices (the Codes-Primary-Documents-Table)

Note that you can export and create reports from this tool.

Network views and linking

Network views contain a wide variety of features and options. Here is just a sampling to get you started:

  • Depending on your screen size, enlarge or maximize the network view and adjust it to the size of your window: LAYOUT / FIT TO WINDOW.
  • Move an object by selecting it and dragging it to different locations in the network view.
  • Right-click on a code or a link to view a series of options in the context menu.
  • Explore different options from the DISPLAY menu.


Qualitative Research Mac Windows

Additional notes

Coding Tag Network Analysis


Article ID: 1588
Tue 5/26/20 9:27 PM
Tue 6/23/20 11:28 AM