Frequently Asked Questions

1. General

1.1 Why the name 'Quirkos'?

Quirkos comes from the Greek 'kirkos', the root of the word 'circle' and 'qu' for qualitative. It represents the Qualitative Bubbles (Quirks) that are central to the interface.

1.2 Is Quirkos browser based?

No, Quirkos is normal software that you install on your computer or tablet.

1.3 Does Quirkos store my data on 'the cloud'?

No, by default Quirkos saves your files on whatever location you choose on your computer or network, but does not store them in any hosted solution. If you choose, you can of course save your files to a cloud platform such as Dropbox to share with others. This gives you the freedom to work according to the security policies of your organisation.

1.4 How long does the licence last?

The licence is indefinite, it does not expire. It will include any updates for that point release (eg. 1.6, 1.8) but not for major new versions (eg. 2.0, 3.0).

1.5 How can I prove eligibility for discounts?

For students, we require a valid e-mail address from an educational institution, and proof of student status, such as a university student card.

For academic licences, an e-mail address from a registered university is usually sufficient, we will try to validate this automatically looking for common e-mail domains (such as,, This is also the case for some government institutions, for example e-mails ending in .gov or Otherwise, get in touch and we will validate your status. As long as yourself or your institution are visible on the internet, there shouldn't be a problem.

If you have any problems providing these, just get in touch, we will work something out!

1.6 Will there be updates for Quirkos?

Usually every quarter. We will make updates available periodically to fix any bugs and add new features. We also pledge to make sure that updates do not brake compatibility with older versions, so everyone can work with the same projects.

1.7 Does Quirkos work with pictures, audio or video?

Not at the moment. We wanted to focus on text, the format that qualitative researchers use most often. We have innovative designs for working with multimedia sources that we hope to implement in future versions.

1.8 Does Quirkos support rich or formatted text?

Not in the current release, although this is planned for the next version.

1.9 What formats does Quirkos support?

Quirkos will currently only open plain text files (.txt), rich text files (.rtf), Word files from recent versions (.docx), text-based PDFs and CSV ('Comma Separated Value' files from spreadsheets). However, you can import a source from the clipboard by copying and pasting from any other programme on your computer. Rather than try and support all formats that people might be using, this lets you get text into Quirkos from almost anything your computer can open. So you can copy from text PDFs, Word files (all versions), your internet browser, LaTeX, Libre-Office etc. Quirkos will export as SQLite, Word (.docx) and CSV files, and generate reports in HTML, PDF and .png images. This combination gives users great flexibility.

1.10 I have another question, what support do you offer?

First of all, check the forum! Someone may have already asked your question, and you may be able to find a solution immediately. Otherwise post a question, we check the forum regularly, but sometimes the community may answer a problem first!

The best way to get in contact with us is via e-mail ( We will always try and respond to an e-mail within a day, but note our normal working hours: we are based in the UK, so that means 9-5 GMT, Monday to Friday. We currently only offer telephone technical support to commercial customers, but are happy to field enquiries.

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2. Installation

2.1 What are the system requirements for Quirkos?

For Windows, Mac and Linux we recommend at least 2GB of RAM, a 2Ghz or higher Code 2 Duo or higher processor. We find that Quirkos works best on computers with accelerated graphics (OpenGL or DirectX). Quirkos does not work on Windows XP, or versions of OS X older than 10.7.

2.2 How much space is needed to install Quirkos?

You will need 120MB of free disk space for installation, or 190MB in Linux (plus dependencies).

2.3 Can I install a 'live' installation on a USB stick?

Yes you can, but note that the licence key is linked to a particular computer, so you cannot install to a USB drive and use that licence of Quirkos on lots of different computers.

2.4 How is my licence validated?

Our licencing system links your licence key to your computer when it is validated from in the activation box. This makes sure your key cannot be used by someone else. This usually requires an active internet connection for validation, however, if you are on a system that does not have a suitable connection (for example for security reasons) contact us, and we can provide an off-line activation key. After activation, Quirkos does not require a connection to the internet.

2.5 I upgraded my operating system, or I got a new computer, and my licence won't work!

This is because the licence is linked to your particular computer and operating system. If you updated from Windows 7 to Windows 8 for example, our licence system would see this as a new computer. Just contact us on the e-mail address you registered with, and we will be happy to reactivate your licence key.

2.6 I installed the trial version of Quirkos, and didn't get around to trying it. Can I have an extension?

Probably! Just e-mail us, and we'll try to help.

2.7 There's a new version of Quirkos. How do I upgrade?

Just download the new version, and install to the same location as your old one (ie C:\Program Files in Windows, or Applications in OSX). This will update the software, and doesn't change your files. When you start Quirkos the next time, all your previously used files will still be listed, and there is no need to re-enter your licence key.

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3. Files

3.1 What are the files used for Quirkos?

Quirkos uses .qrk files, which contain all the data for your project, including the sources. To share with others, or copy from one computer to another, you just need to move this one file.

3.2 What is the format of Quirkos files?

.qrk files are just a SQLite database file. You can import them into any programme that supports this open format, for example you can make direct edits and exports using the excellent SQLite Manager: a free plugin for the Firefox browser.

3.3 Can I encrypt my files?

Yes, when starting a new project you can password protect and encrypt the project file. Note that at the moment you cannot add a password to an existing project, and that you must remember that password! There is no way we can recover a project with a forgotten password, this helps protect the security of the encryption process. Encrypted files also cannot be opened directly in 3rd party programmes, you would have to save the project as a new file without the password to remove the encryption.

3.4 Can the file be worked on by more than one user at a time?

It is not recommended at the moment, but is possible. Quirkos will warn you if the file appears to be already open by another user.

3.5 When I open a file, why does Quirkos say the file appears to already be opened by another user?

This can happen if the computer or programme crashes. In this case, no data will be lost, but the note that the programme has finished with the file will not be recorded, hence Quirkos thinks that the file is still open elsewhere. It is safe to continue in these situations.

3.6 Where is the save button?!

There isn't one! Every-time you do something, it is immediately saved. This makes sure that you don't lose any work if the computer crashes, or you have a power-cut. Under the 'Project' button you can save as a new file if you want to preserve the project at a particular state. Remember, you still should back up your files against hard-drive failure, losing USB sticks on the bus, and viruses!

3.7 Can I move files across Mac and Windows computers?

Absolutely. The file format is exactly the same across all platforms, there is no need to convert files when going between Windows, Mac, Linux or Android computers.

3.8 Can I work with a project file saved on a remote server?

Ideally not. As Quirkos is constantly saving your work, running a project hosted on a remote server or cloud platform can lead to slowdowns, and in some cases the file will not open for editing. It is best to download the file to your computer to work on, and upload again when you are done with your session.

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4. Using Quirkos

4.1 What is in the report directory?

When creating a report, Quirkos produces a lot of separate files, which is why it asks for a directory to store the report. This will create a 'data' folder containing images of the canvas and Quirks, so you can use them directly in a presentation or article. There will also be HTML and associated files, which lets you share an exploreable and customisable dynamic report, or a PDF file formatted exactly the way you choose.

4.2 I'm stuck! Not sure what I've clicked on!

The home button on the top left of the screen will always take you back to the main canvas view.

4.3 What size of files can Quirkos support?

Quirkos does slow down when loading very large sources. This can cause a delay in changing between tabs, but once they are loaded they will display smoothly. At the moment, Quirkos initially loads the first 10,000 words of any text file. (This is more than most interviews or essays!) To see any more than that, just click on the 'Load more' dialogue at the top of the source.

4.4 How many sources can a project contain?

Dozens! As Quirkos only loads the current active source for display, a project with lots of sources will not slow down general use, but obviously searches and queries will take longer. However, most good computers should not see more than a few seconds delay in a large project - the last time we were working with whole novels by Charles Dickens, searches still took less than a minute! Quirkos is not really designed for projects requiring hundreds or thousands of separate sources, we consider this type of research to be more quantitative than qualitative.

4.5 Why is Quirkos so dark?

By default, we've set Quirkos to use dark backgrounds with light text, and a dark canvas. This is easier on the eyes for long periods of coding (we know this from experience!) and also reduces energy use compared to white backgrounds.

4.6 How does a whole team work on one project file?

From version 1.5, Quirkos allows you to merge files (you can also projects files created in older versions of Quirkos). A group of people working on a project could all take copies of a project file (for example with just the sources, or framework) and code different parts of the project, then merge together. There is currently no supported way for multiple users to be working on the same project file at the same time.

4.7 When trying to open a file, it says 'May already be open'

This message is shown when a project file is not closed properly, usually due to a crash or computer error. It's safe to continue as long as you aren't running two instances of Quirkos at the same time!

4.8 I have a problem with Quirkos crashing!

First, make sure that you are using the latest version of Quirkos. Download and install again from our website to make sure. Second, make sure that you don't have any backup services running (like Dropbox or iCloud) that are trying to copy your project file while you work. This can cause a crash.

If you are on Windows, make sure your graphics drivers are up to date. Most of the crashes we see on Windows are actually caused by outdated graphics drivers (especially with Intel integrated graphics on some laptops).
If none of these steps help, please let us know! E-mail us at and please let us know which operating system you are using (for example Windows 10), and what version of Quirkos you are running. We will try and fix this as soon as possible!

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