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Zotero: guides, instructions, tutorials

Zotero Sync

If you're regularly using more than one computer in your research, Zotero's sync feature can keep your library up to date on all of them.  Zotero can store a copy of your library on the Zotero.org server and check it for updates whenever you open your library on a different computer.  All your computers must be running the same version of Zotero.

First, set up a (free, of course) Zotero.org user account. Then:

  • Open Zotero preferences (via the gear menu) and select the Sync tab. 
  • Enter your Zotero user name and password. 
  • Check the "sync automatically" box.
  • Check both boxes under File Syncing and choose Zotero storage for My Library. This will sync your PDF attachments as well as citations (more info).
  • Click the green circular arrow button at the top right corner of the Zotero window.
  • Zotero will upload your library to the server.

Repeat this configuration on each of your computers.  Any updates you make on one of your computers will be reflected on the others.  This even works to synchronize your library among Windows, Mac and Linux computers.

For more details and help troubleshooting sync problems, check the Zotero site.

Plan B: export your library

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If you're working on a library computer, there's another easy option for taking your Zotero library with you.

On your computer, click the Zotero gear menu, choose Export Library, and save the file to your USB drive. On the library's computer, click the gear menu, choose Import, and find your Zotero file to import it.

When you're done, make sure to export any changes and import the new file onto your computer. The library's computers will erase your data when you log off.


This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License.
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