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Posted on August 16, 2023

The 5 Best Plugins for ACF Import

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The Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) plugin is a critical add-on for millions of WordPress users. It allows them to quickly and easily add custom fields to every type of WordPress content, including posts, pages, users, taxonomy terms, media, and more.

Defining ACF custom fields may be easy, but getting large amounts of existing data into them is not. To achieve this, you need a plugin that can populate, update, and even delete the content stored in each ACF field, preferably with no human involvement.

In this article, we review the top 5 plugins capable of these tasks.

1. WP All Import

ACF Import - WP All Import

WP All Import is the top plugin for importing data into ACF fields. In fact, it is so popular that if you type "acf import" into any leading search tool, the top three keyword phrases by search volume all begin with "wp all import". That's when you know that two plugins are joined at the hip!

The main reason for WP All Import's popularity is that it supports all ACF fields for all ACF versions. What's more, it adapts to any ACF changes immediately, so you're guaranteed full coverage for all your ACF fields.

Beyond that, WP All Import's core features include the ability to:

  • Import data from CSV, XML, or Excel; you can also download imports via a URL or FTP/SFTP;
  • Build any kind of data filter, no matter how sophisticated;
  • Modify incoming data on the fly using various options, including an embedded function editor; this is crucial if the ACF data you're trying to import isn't quite the way you need it;
  • Use incoming data to update specific fields while leaving others alone; you can also import only new records or delete existing records if they are not present in the import file;
  • Import images regardless of how the image data is formatted or where the images are stored;
  • Automatically schedule your imports and updates;

In addition to all this, WP All Import also allows you to import content into every WordPress and WooCommerce data type, including the fields of most 3rd-party themes and plugins — even non-ACF custom fields. This means you will never run into a situation where your import is blocked because WP All Import can't access some of your target fields.

You can also import data to multilingual sites.

Finally, if you combine this plugin with WP All Export, you can bulk edit and migrate ACF data with no setup required for the import portion of the process.

Put simply, this is the most complete ACF import solution you will find.

For more information, see Import to ACF From CSV, Excel, and XML.

2. Ultimate CSV Importer by Smackcoders

ACF Import - Ultimate CSV Importer

Ultimate CSV Importer offers a robust solution for importing CSV and XML files into most WordPress and WooCommerce data types.

It also provides excellent coverage of all ACF field types through a specific ACF Import Add-On, similar to the coverage provided by WP All Import.

So why do we place this plugin as #2 on this list instead of #1? The main reason has to do with the following limitations:

  • A key premise of this product's design is that it expects the data elements in the import file to already be formatted to match the format requirements of ACF and other fields. If the import file does not already meet these requirements, you will have to manually edit it in a spreadsheet or other editing tool prior to importing it;
  • Because of this design premise, this plugin lacks the features needed to modify data on the fly, especially an embedded function editor.
  • This same design premise means you can't filter import data, either. Again, you have to manually delete the records you don't want to import.
  • It lacks the ability to delete existing records that are no longer in an import file or to precisely target only specific fields during an import, such as updating only WooCommerce product prices or stock levels. The proposed strategy here is to export your target records, manually modify the desired fields, and then import the records back into your system.

Summarizing, then, Ultimate CSV Importer is a viable import plugin for simple ACF imports when the import file is already in the exact state that you need it. For anything more sophisticated, you need to turn to a plugin like WP All Import.

To learn more, see Import All Pages, Post types, Products, Orders, and Users as XML & CSV.

3. Import WP

ACF Import - Import WP

This plugin is a bit behind the curve when it comes to interface design. For example, instead of a drag-and-drop interface for mapping incoming data elements to target WordPress fields, it forces you to select each mapping using a clunky, multi-step approach. It also lacks the ability to filter incoming data or modify it on the fly.

On the other hand, it does let you add, update, and delete records depending on matches found between your existing data and the import data, and it also allows you to selectively update or ignore specific fields.

The reason it is #3 on this list is because it offers an Advanced Custom Fields add-on that can handle most simple updates of ACF field data, i.e., where the import file is already formatted the way that the ACF field(s) require.

For additional information, see Import WP.

4. Woo Import Export

ACF Import - Woo Import Export

Woo Import Export is a plugin that shows up in many of our best plugin lists for importing and exporting both WordPress and WooCommerce data. In at least half of those cases, it is ranked just behind WP All Import because it shares many of the same features.

In the case of ACF fields, it probably would have been ranked higher on this list, too, but its ACF documentation is so limited it is difficult for us to take Woo's commitment to importing ACF data as seriously as we take its commitment to importing and exporting WooCommerce products.

Until that changes, we recommend that you explore this plugin for ACF imports only if the three preceding plugins on this list fail to satisfy your needs.

For more information, see Woo Import Export.

5. Simple Export Import for ACF Data

ACF Import - Simple Export Import for ACF Data

As its name implies, this plugin focuses on the export and import of ACF field data.

Furthermore, it is restricted in practical terms to only one use case: where you have created something in a staging environment that includes the population of ACF fields, and you now want to move that project to a production environment without having to manually recreate your ACF field data.

To learn more, see Simple Export Import for ACF Data.

ACF Import Wrap-Up

With an add-on like ACF, there are two primary issues to consider when searching for an import plugin. The first is, of course, whether the plugin provides complete import coverage for all ACF fields.

Keeping in mind that ACF fields are almost always attached to other data types (i.e., posts, pages, users, etc.), the second issue is whether the plugin also handles all broader import needs.

In our opinion, only one plugin does both, and that's WP All Import. It's the only plugin that you can use for all import needs, regardless of size or complexity.

We would include Ultimate CSV Importer in this category except for one undeniable weakness: it can't handle imports where the import file is not perfectly formatted in advance. This is not a big issue if you're the one controlling the creation of the import file. But if a third party is generating that file, especially if multiple third parties are involved, this becomes a very big deal very quickly.

After these two plugins, your ACF import options begin to narrow rather dramatically, which is probably why WP All Import has practically become synonymous with importing ACF data.

In any event, we hope this gives you a better grasp of the ACF import landscape.

Related Info

The 5 Best Plugins for ACF Import from CSV

The 5 Best WordPress CSV Import Plugins To Speed Up Your Workflow in 2024


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