Attach an Image or PDF to an Item

You can attach a digital image file or a PDF file to an item. A digital image file is like a scan of a photograph or document, or a photograph taken with a digital camera. Attached means that the file becomes associated with the item such that whenever you view the item's metadata, you also see the image or PDF. You can attach multiple image and/or PDF files to a single item.

This page explains two methods for attaching image or PDF files to an item:

The second method is only available if your Digital Archive installation uses AvantS3 to store archival assets on Amazon AWS S3. If you don't know what S3 is, use the first method.


Searchable PDF files

If the attachment is a PDF file, and that PDF file is searchable, its text implicitly becomes part of the item's metadata just as if the text was contained in the item's Description field. A searchable PDF is one that either originated from a Word processor like Microsoft Word, or the PDF contains scanned text (like a scan of a newspaper article) that was processed with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to allow you to search the text when viewing the PDF. Use searchable PDFs whenever possible because they greatly increase the likelihood of someone finding the content on your site.


Upload files to your Digital Archive

Follow the steps below to attach a file to an item by uploading the file to your Digital Archive.

1 – Go to the item's Edit Item page
Learn how to edit an item.
2 – Go to the Files tab

On the Edit Item page, click on the Files tab.

The screenshot below shows what the Files tab looks like for an item that has no file attachments.

Files tab

3 – Click the Browse button

Clicking the Browse button opens the file explorer or file finder on your computer.

  • Choose the file you want to upload
  • Choose more files by clicking the Add Another File button for each additional file

Do not upload huge files. To learn why, see best practices for uploading files.

4 – Click the Save Changes button

When you are done choosing a file or files, click the Save Changes button.

The file(s) will be uploaded to your Digital Archive and attached to the item.

You'll now be viewing the item's admin page. It will display the files that are attached to the item. The screenshot below shows an item that has eight image attachments.

Example of attached files


The remaining steps are all optional.


5 – Change the file attachments (optional step)

To make changes to the attachments, click the Edit Item button.

On the Edit Item page, click on the Files tab.

You'll see the item's file attachments in a list as shown below.

Files tab with eight files

6 – Reorder the attachments (optional step)

The first file in the list will be used as the item's thumbnail and it will be the large image displayed when you view an item. The other files will appear in the item page's Other Images section as shown below on the items public page.

Eight files on public view item page

On the Files tab of the Edit Item page, you can click-drag a file to move it up or down in the list as shown below where file 14432-02.jpg is being moved above 14432-03.jpg so that the attachment order matches the file name numbering (these are newspaper pages and so the order is very important). When happy with the new order, click the Save Changes button.

Dragging an attachment

7 – Delete an attachment (optional step)
  • Click the Delete link on each file you want to remove
  • The file's row turns gold
  • Click the Save Changes button

Delete an attachment

Note: You never use the Edit link that appears before the Delete link.

8 – Add another attachment (optional step)
To attach more files to the item, follow the instructions in step 3 above.
9 – Replace an attachment with an updated file (optional step)
If you need to replace an existing image or PDF file with an updated version having the same file name, you should first delete the attachment for the old version following step 7 above, and then upload the replacement file as though it were a new attachment. If you don't delete the old file first, Omeka will give the updated file a different file name which can become confusing if you are relying on file names to know which Digital Archive files correspond to archival versions of those files that your are storing somewhere else.

Upload files to your S3 server

Skip this section if your installation is not using S3.

1 – Go to the item's S3 page on AWS

The screenshot below shows the admin item view page for a newly created item that has metadata, but no attachments.

Click the S3 link to get to the item's S3 page on AWS in a new browser tab. The S3 link is next to the item's Identifier.

New items with no S3 files

If you are going to S3 for the first time today, you'll need to login, but only once a day.

S3 login page

2 – Upload files to S3

Once logged in you will see the S3 page for the item. S3 automatically creates and manages a location for the uploaded files based on the item's identifier – you don't have to create a folder or do anything else before uploading files.

Drag files onto the S3 page, or click the Upload button to browse for files on your computer.

The screenshot below shows what the page looks like after uploading two files for item 16159: a JPEG version of the file and the original high resolution TIFF file from the scanner.

S3 with files

Once you are done uploading files, you can close the S3 browser tab.

3 – Select the S3 file(s) to attach to the item

Go to the Files tab of the Edit Item page.

The S3 files from AWS appear in a list. Files that can be attached to the item have a checkbox next to them. Files without a checkbox are ones the Digital Archive, and browsers in general, do not support such as TIFF files, Word documents, and spreadsheets.

The screenshot below shows both of the files that were uploaded to S3 in step 2 above, but only the JPG file has a checkbox.

Check the boxes for the files you want to attach to the item.

S3 Files tab

4 – Click the Save Changes button

When you click the Save Changes button, the AvantS3 plugin will:

  • Download the checked files from your S3 server
  • Downsize JPEG images to be 1200px on the long edge
  • Attach the files to the item

When the save has completed, the item will appear as shown below.

Item view with S3 files

5 – Change the file attachments (optional)

The steps for reordering and deleting S3 attachments are the same as explained for
uploading files to the Digital Archive when not using S3. However, when you delete an attachment, the file itself remains in S3 and continues to show up in the S3 files list. That's because the list is only a reflection of what's stored on your S3 server. As such, you cannot accidentally delete an archival asset from the Digital Archive.

To replace an attached file with a newer version having the same file name:

  • Upload the newer file to S3
  • S3 keeps a copy of the older version in case you make a mistake and need to recover it
  • On the Files tab of the Edit Item page, check the box for the file that got updated
  • Click the Save Changes button
  • The Digital Archive will replace the older attachment with the newer one using the same file name (you don't need to first delete the older file as you do when not using S3)

In the screenshot below, note that the Action column value for file JPH Receipt 1977.jpg says Replace existing file whereas in step 3 above it said Add to item. That's because the Digital Archive knows which S3 files can be attached and which are already attached. This makes it easy to tell if you inadvertently forgot to attach an S3 file to the item.

Files tab with S3 files

A note on using S3

Archivists at the Southwest Harbor Public Library have found that using S3 is far superior to other methods they tried for managing archival files and their corresponding Digital Archive items. The S3 method is simple, fast, easy, and safe. Previously they used Dropbox to store archival assets, but the Dropbox approach required many manual steps and was error prone. Dropbox can also get expensive if you need accounts for multiple archivists. S3 storage is relatively inexpensive by comparison. Once set up, S3 works very well, but to use it requires that all of your archival assets reside on S3, organized in folders as required by the AvantS3 plugin. In other words, AvantS3 is not something you can just start using without the effort and expense required to first switch over to S3 from another technology.