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Automatically populating linked records

Topic Labels: Base design
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New Airtable user here, so this is a pretty basic question (and so hopefully a straightforward answer!), though I can’t find existing guidance in the forum.

Specifically, I’m having no luck creating a “Link to another record” column that automatically populates itself with those linked records.

The Project tracker template provides an example of exactly what I mean: the Task column is linked to the Tasks table and automatically fills with any new records that are added to the latter.

When I attempt to create a new “Link to another record” column with this functionality, however, it’s blank and stays blank (doesn’t pull in existing or newly created records from the Tasks table).

What am I missing? Do I also need to create an automation, app, or something else to do the work of pulling in the records? (I don’t see any such automation or app in the template though).

Any guidance extremely appreciated - thank you!

6 Replies 6

Welcome to the community, @Elizabeth_Murnane!

You have to manually link records in Airtable. There is no automatic linking in Airtable.

However, if you already have a set of records that you need to link, you can do a one-time-only linking of your records by converting a text field (in table #2) into a linked record field that links to records (in table #1). The values in your field in table #2 must IDENTICALLY MATCH THE PRIMARY FIELD VALUE in table #1, in order for the linking to occur.

You could also create an automation that helps you link records in the future, one record at-a-time.

Got it — thanks for confirming and for that tip!

I have been trying to build an automation that attempts to link records that are now being synced into my base from another base. My new table primary field is a student’s name. It is attempting to match a primary field from my main table which is also the student’s name. This has proven to be successful when the student’s name matches. It fails when the student has a nickname or uses a middle name. Makes sense since the primary fields don’t match.

What I wanted to try and build in the automation was to match and link based on a unique email address that exists in both tables. I can’t tell if this just isn’t possible, or whether I’m not setting up or understanding the limitations of the Automation tab.

Any ideas would be appreciated!!

@Kevin_DiBenedetto Unlike most other database systems, Airtable doesn’t let you link records based on the values of fields.

Because of that, you can only match to an entire record, which is designated by its primary field.

Since the email address is not the primary field, you would need to figure out what the primary field value is for the record that has the email address you’re looking for. Once you have the primary field value, then you can link the records to each other.

Unfortunately, you can’t take all of these steps with Airtable’s built-in automation steps. However, you could write a custom JavaScript script to handle all of these steps for you, and then you could trigger that JavaScript script via an automation trigger.

Alternatively, for a no-code way of doing this (which doesn’t require diving into JavaScript), I highly recommend Integromat, which is a no-code automation platform that has full 100% support for Airtable.

I am a professional Airtable consultant and a Registered Integromat Partner, so if you have a budget for this project and need help setting this up, feel free to contact me through my website at (The Integromat link above contains my personal referral code.)

Thanks ScottWorld, that worked for me where endless Airtable videos failed!
But given the amazing functionality of Airtable, I’m surprised that you can’t look up a record entry via a common linking entry (other than a one-off via the primary field). I have linked my tables, but every new record in the first table needs to be manually linked to the second to look up the linked data :frowning: . Is this really true?

Yes, this is sad but true.