PL0004: File cannot be mapped to any roster in the questionnaire

User Giselle Del Carmen has sent us this question:

I’m having issues pre-loading data from a previous survey, specifically from a list of household members. I keep getting error PL0004. I even tried replicating the preloading example exactly as shown in the videos, first downloading the zip file to ensure I have the right variable names, the questionnaire/household identifier uploads without an issue, but when I try to do it as a zip file with the roster information I get this error:
PL0004: File cannot be mapped to any roster in the questionnaire. File __MACOSX/._household.txt ( )

Could it be possible that this is due to it being done from a MAC?

Yes, it is most definitely because you are using a Mac, and it throws in some additional files to the archive you create without telling you, but it does and it confuses Survey Solutions. Make sure the folder _MACOSX with system files is not added to the archive during creation, or eliminate it from the archive if it is already created.

I’m not a Mac user, but here are few ideas on how to prevent this from being part of the zip file, or to remove it:


  • Use a third-party zip program. My suspicion is that this is coming from Mac’s default zip program. (Many statistical software packages, like Stata, will use the system’s default zip program, I suspect.)
  • Use a virtual machine. If I’m not mistaken, Mac has some nice tooling for spinning up virtual Windows machines (e.g. app named Parallels?). Not sure how to set it up, and whether you can use an existing Windows license for that. If a Windows license is a sticking point, go for Ubuntu. The idea is to zip with another OS that doesn’t have this behavior.
  • Use the R zip package. The R zip package uses a cross-platform zip program to provide consistent behavior across OSes.


  • Remove via Terminal See StackOverflow article here