Loading Data and Attributes

Data and genomic annotations can be loaded from local files, HTTP URLs, or an IGV data server.

Load from File

Load data files by browsing for files on the local file system or other file systems you have mounted. See File Formats for information about the file formats IGV accepts.

To load data from the file system:

  1. Select File>Load from File. IGV displays the Select Files window.
  2. Select one or more data files or sample information files, then click OK.

Load from URL

To load data from an HTTP URL:

  1. Select File>Load from URL.
  2. Enter the HTTP or FTP URL for a data file or sample information file.
  3. If the file is indexed, enter the index file name in the field provided.
  4. Click OK.

To load a file from Google Cloud Storage, enter the path to the file with the "gs://" prefix. For example, a path of gs://genomics-public-data/platinum-genomes/bam/NA12877_S1.bam will display the reads for sample NA12877 from Illumina Platinum Genomes.


  • For .bam, .tdf, and indexed file formats the server must support byte-range requests.

Load from Server

To load data from the IGV data server:

  1. Select File>Load from Server. The Available Datasets window appears:
  2. Expand the tree to see the datasets.
  3. Select one or more datasets. Click the check box to the left of a dataset to select it.
    Warning: Selecting a folder selects all of its subfolders and all of the datasets in those folders. This can potentially be a huge amount of data. To be sure you are loading only the data you want, open collapsed folders and select only the datasets of interest.
  4. Click OK.

Removing Tracks 

To remove all tracks and attributes:

  • Click File>New Session. This is essentially the same as restarting IGV.

To remove specific tracks, do one of the following:

  • Right-click a track name and select Remove Tracks in the pop-up menu.
  • Right-click an attribute value, which selects all tracks tagged with that attribute value, and select Remove Tracks in the pop-up menu.
  • Control-click track names (Mac: Command-click), then right-click one of the selections and select Remove Tracks in the pop-up menu.

 Creating a Chromosome Name Alias File

One of the common causes for a data loading failure is a mismatch in chromosome names between the data file and the IGV genome it is being viewed against.  

The workaround is to create a tab delimiated "alias" file to specify alternate names for a chromosome.  The second column contains the corresponding name in the genome assembly you are viewing (e.g., chr1 for our "hg38" genome).  For instance, the first 2 lines of an alias file might look like this:

chr1 <tab> 1 <tab> CM000663.2  <tab>  NC_000001.11

chr2  <tab>  2 <tab> CM000664.2 <tab> NC_000002.12

Name the file with the pattern <genome iD>_alias.tab, the word "alias",  for example, hg38_alias.tab.  Place this file in the igv genomes directory. The default location for this folder <user home>/igv/genomes, it can be changed in Preferences -> Advanced

Note: Certain well-known aliases are built into IGV and do not require an alias file.  These include mappings that involve adding or removing the prefix "chr" to the name, for example  1 -> chr1 and chr1 -> 1.    Also, NCBI identifiers that start with "gi|" and follow the pattern illustrated in the example above are automatically mapped.