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Zotero User Tips

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Indexing your own pdf collection facilitates greater searchability on Zotero. But before you can index your material, you first have to attach it to the appropriate bibliographic entry. Highly the entry, click on the attachment icon and on “Attach stored copy of file…”


Once the file has been linked to the appropriate entry, highlight the attached file and you should see “Indexed: No.” Next to that is an indexing icon (green).


Click on that green icon to index the contents of your pdf material.

If it's your first time to index a material on Zotero, you'll be asked to download and install some Zotero pdf tools. That's something that Zotero can also do for you. Just say “yes” when such option gets presented to you.

For more on search, visit Zotero reference on the subject.


Tagging enables you to add key words that can help identify or search contents. Tags are portable as part of a collection export. To add a tag, highlight the entry (middle panel), click on “Tags” (right panel) and on “Add.” _

More info on Zotero tags.

Not my type!

Typing or cut-and-pasting is tiresome. So use these techniques to minimize stress on your fingers and eyesight.

  • Entry by ISBN, PMID, or DOI. When you're online, key it in by clicking on this “add item” icon

_ and Zotero will pull the metadata from online libraries.

_ and on the BibTeX format. You'll see something like this:

title={Grooming, gossip, and the evolution of language},
author={Dunbar, Robin},
publisher={Harvard University Press}

Highlight the text and copy it to your computer's memory. From Zotero, click on File | Import from Clipboard.

Group Libraries

Group libraries are a convenient way of aggregating contents with other researchers. Register at and you'll be able to pull resources from other zotero users online and to create groups of your own.

In sharing files with other Zotero users, you can maintain a “clean” set of entries in your OWN collection (under My Library) and just drag those you wish to share into the relevant directory (or subdirectory) under Group Libraries. This way you minimize the risk of losing entries that might be accidentally deleted by other group members.


The syncing of a personal collection to a Zotero group is done simply by dragging the relevant collection. Here's an illustration:

You need to have the appropriate permissions on the target Zotero group to be able to accomplish this. Also note that dragging your personal collection to the Zotero group will not include the media and other files attached to the entries in your My Library collection. If you want them included in the Zotero group collection as well, you'll have to individually attach those materials online, which can go over the free space limit.


Currently Zotero doesn't have a separate category for photographs. In the meantime, use the “Artwork” item type for a photo. “Title” is not the same as filename. “Abstract” can be used for a description of the work, size for photo resolution (use px or pixels as unit), date for when the photograph was taken, and Extra for geolocation (use an app to get this info, if it's not available already in your camera). Make use of Tags and Notes as well. _

Archiving Photographs and Other Media Files

Zotero provides a decent way of archiving photographs and other media files. But if you're anticipating a collection that amounts to over 100MB of disk space, consider supplementing Zoteo with a more expandable and flexible cloud-based service or repository.

To link an entry from a local directory, click on the attachment icon.


Your options here are: “Attach stored copy of file…” and “Attach link to file…” The former allows Zotero to index the file concerned. The latter just provides some link or locator for your file from Zotero.

For archiving your media files in some central repository that your research team may be using, the key is to lInk your media files FROM a directory or folder that can be synced to a media server or online repository. Such file or directory can be uploaded to a server using a peer-to-peer sharing service like this.

Here's your obligatory Youtube:

In this use case, Zotero primarily manages the metadata; Resilio Sync provides backup with your team. This is by no means the only approach to digital archiving, but cost (in this case, practically zero) is of prime consideration.

See Also