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Zotero: Tips & Tricks

How to collect, organize, and cite articles, and create formatted bibliographies with the free tool, Zotero.

Backing Up Your Zotero Library

Zotero "strongly recommends" that you regularly back up your Zotero library. Syncing is not a good substitute for backing up.

By default, your Zotero library is stored in the 'zotero' directory of either your Firefox profile (Zotero for Firefox) or in the profile of Zotero itself (Zotero Standalone). 

The easiest and most reliable way to find your Zotero data directory is by clicking the “Show Data Directory” button in the Advanced tab of your Zotero Preferences window.

If you do not regularly back up your computer/hard drive, you can back up your Zotero library specifically. Locate your Zotero library, close Firefox and/or Zotero Standalone, and copy your 'zotero' data directory to a backup location (copy the entire directory, including 'storage' and the other subdirectories), preferably on another storage device.

Another, easier method would be to Export your library and transfer it to another storage device.

Zotero and EndNote

It's easy to use EndNoteI and Zotero together and take advantage of the best features of each, or to share Zotero libraries with colleagues using EndNote or vice versa. Both programs can read and write a standard citation file format called RIS, which means references can be converted back and forth with a few clicks.

PDFs and other attachments do not export between programs, however; only citation information.

Zotero to EndNote

To save your Zotero library for importing into EndNote, click the Zotero button that looks like a gear and choose "Export Library." Choose RIS as the file type and pick a filename.

In EndNote, click "File" and then "Import." Click the "Choose File" button and select the file you just exported from Zotero.

Set Import Option to "Reference Manager (RIS)" and click Import .

EndNote to Zotero

To export your EndNote library for use in Zotero, click "File" and then "Export." Set the output style to "RefMan (RIS) Export" and save it as a text file.

In Zotero, click the button that looks like a gear and choose "Import." Just double-click the file you exported from EndNote. The new references will be added to a collection named "Imported" followed by the date and time.

Full Text@UAB Libraries and Zotero

You've probably seen the Full Text@UAB Libraries button in some article databases that allows you to locate the full text of an article online.  Zotero allows you to use the same feature.

To set up Zotero to access the UAB Libraries server, click the gear button on the Zotero toolbar and choose Preferences, then Advanced, At the bottom of the preferences window, paste this url into the "Resolver" box:

 Then click OK. Once you've set this up, you can click the Locate button on any citation you're viewing to search for the item online.

Using Zotero with an iPad

There are several ways to work with Zotero on your iPad.

  • You can work with your library online after logging into from your tablet browser. You can organize your library, add tags and notes to items, and to upload attachments to read on your iPad.


  • ZotPad is a $9.99 app that allows you to access your Zotero library from your iPad. The software provides read and write access to Zotero files stored on the Zotero server, WebDAV server, or Dropbox. Learn more here. Download from the App Store.
  • The Zotero Bookmarklet is a free bookmark you add to your browser that allows you to save the page you are reading to your Zotero library, as long as Zotero recognizes the source.  It works with the Safari browser on the iPad and iPhone.  Installation is a bit tricky, but follow the instructions here carefully. Learn more here.

  • Zotfile is a Zotero plugin to manage your attachments: automatically rename, move, and attach PDFs (or other files) to Zotero items, sync PDFs from your Zotero library to your (mobile) PDF reader (e.g. an iPad, Android tablet, etc.) and extract annotations from PDF files.
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