Zotero (zoh-tair-oh) is a free, open source software owned by the Corporation for Digital Scholarship. There is a global community of users that create plugins and develop tutorials for its use.
As a citation management tool, Zotero helps you collect, organize, and manage research sources and cite them in your writing.
Compatible Operating Systems: OS, iOS, Windows, and Linux
Plug-In Compatible Browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari
Word Processor Compatibility: GoogleDocs, Microsoft Word, LibreOffice
This guide aims to give you the basics to start using Zotero. Please use the Quick Start Guide or the other support documentation below to become a Zotero pro!
If you have questions or need help with Zotero, contact your subject librarian
The Zotero Desktop app is the best way to access your library-it has the most functionality of the three access points. Zotero desktop does not require any other Zotero plug-ins or accounts to work, but they are recommended. Zotero desktop also does not require an internet connection to create citations or bibliographies from the items in your library.
Once Zotero is installed, it's time to set up your preferences
To set up your Zotero Desktop, find the preferences menu.
On Mac menu bar: Zotero → Preferences
On Windows menu bar: Edit → Preferences
Learn more about using Zotero, adding citations, and creating bibliographies in other sections of this guide.
To make the most of Zotero, you should register for a free account. This gives you access to many of the features of Zotero, from anywhere with an internet connection. You will also need a Zotero account to:
Once you've created an account, be sure to connect it to your Zotero desktop app in the preferences menu (Zotero → Preferences → Sync) here (screenshots from Zotero Desktop for Mac):
Create an account from the preferences window or add your Zotero account log-in here. Select "Set Up Syncing."
Once you add your account, you have data syncing options:
The storage limits in Zotero only apply to your online library as your desktop library is connected entirely to your own computer and its storage interfaces. The storage options for Zotero Online are:
It is important to know that your own items, as well as those stored in Zotero groups that you are listed as the owner of count toward your storage total.
The Zotero Connector allows you to add new items to your library as you browse online. With the click of a button, Zotero Connector will create an item of the appropriate type, populate the metadata, and download the PDF as available.
The connector is compatible with Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Safari (the Safari connector installed from Zotero Desktop).
To install the Safari Connector, navigate on the menu bar to Safari → Preferences → Extensions, and check the box to the left of "Zotero Connector."
You can ask the Zotero Connector in Chrome, Edge, and Firefox can work in two ways:
To mange these preferences, you will need to update the preferences inside the Zotero Connector. This should be accessible through your browser's Add-on menu (often shaped like a puzzle piece) in Chrome, Edge Firefox. These settings can be controlled under "General."
Inside the add-on menu, under "Advanced" is where you will enable the integration for Google Docs. We'll talk more about this when we talk about adding citations.
NOTE: The Zotero Connector for Safari does not include these options, and the Zotero Connector for Chrome automatically adds Zotero to GoogleDocs.
If you like to use your phone or iPad to read or annotate papers, try the Zotero App for iOS. The free app is available in the App Store for both iPad and iPhone. It has much of the same functionality as the Zotero Desktop app but does require a zotero.org account as it backs up to the cloud. For example:
You may need to change some of your sync preferences in your Zotero settings. You'll want the PDF to be accessible in your Zotero online library to use it via iOS Zotero.