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Zotero Citation Management: Managing Library Items

Research/source organizing

Attaching Files to Zotero Library Items

Files can be added to your Zotero library as either copies or links.
  • With copies, a copy of the original file is stored in the Zotero Data Directory. If file syncing has been setup, file copies are synced between your desktop and online Zotero libraries.
  • In contrast, when a file is linked, Zotero only stores a link to the location of the original file (either desktop OR Linked files are not synced.
Drag and Drop Files
  • You can easily copy files into your Zotero library by dragging a file (such as a PDF) into your Zotero pane and dropping it onto a collection (left column), in between library items (center column), or onto an existing library item.  This is the easiest way to attach a copy of an article to its entry in your Zotero library if you have the PDF on hand.
  • Zotero will automatically attempt to identify any PDF embedded metadata and fill in the bibliographic information for that item.

Manually Attach Files

  • Each item also has an Attachments tab in the right column.  You can attach files by clicking the Attachments tab and then the Add button.

  • With the Zotero Desktop Application, you can also manually attach snapshots, links, and copies to items via the Attachment Menu (shown below), or by right-clicking any item and going into the "Add Attachment" menu.

Accessing Files

Files in your library can be accessed by double-clicking the file in the center column. Alternatively, you can right-click the file and selecting “View PDF” or “View in External Viewer” (for PDFs) or “View File”.

To locate a copied or linked file, right-click the file in the Zotero pane and select “Show File”. Copied files are stored in the Zotero Data Directory, and each file has its own subdirectory, which is named with a random 8-character string.

Import from Other Software or Zotero Library

Importing from Other Citation Management Software

You might want to migrate to Zotero but already have an extensive library stored in other reference management software. To import such libraries into Zotero:

  1. ​Start by exporting the bibliographic data from your other software program.
  2. Then, in Zotero, click the gear icon () and select “Import…”.
  3. Browse to your file, select it, and click the “Open” button.
  4. This should import the exported items into your Zotero library in a date-stamped collection.

Zotero can import several popular bibliographic file formats including:

  • BibTeX
  • BibLaTeX
  • Endnote 
  • MEDLINE/nbib
  • MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema)
  • PubMed XML
  • RefWorks Tagged
Note that import/export is generally not recommended for transferring entire Zotero libraries between different Zotero installations. Import/export usually does not give you an exact copy of your Zotero library, and, if you use Zotero's word processor plugins, any links to Zotero items from existing word processor documents will be lost after recreating a Zotero library via export/import.
How Can I move my Zotero library?
  • Zotero syncs libraries through your user account. In most cases, you should be able to migrate your entire library just by installing the Zotero Desktop Application, linking your Zotero account to the new installation, and syncing your library.

If this fails to migrate your data, there are some other alternative options listed on the Zotero support pages.

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