Advanced Zotero

Syncing & Groups

Sync Your Zotero Library

This module will show you how to sync or access your Zotero library from more than one computer.  We will also discuss some of the storage implications of syncing your Zotero library.   Either watch the screencast or view the step-by-step screenshots below.  For a text-based version of the directions, view the video transcript: Syncing_Zotero_Libraries_Transcript.pdf

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1. Now that you have a Zotero account set up, you can access your Zotero data from more than one computer, as long as the other computer has Zotero installed. To sync your Zotero account, go to the Zotero tool bar, click the Actions icon, then choose preferences.


2.  Go to the sync tab and enter the username and password for your account.

Username and password

3.  Before we go further, it is important to think about how Zotero keeps track of your library’s data across multiple computers, because you may need to think strategically about how you will store your data.  Zotero is able to sync your library across multiple computers because they are storing your data on their servers.  There are two kinds of data that Zotero can store.  The first is just-plain data, or the metadata associated with all of the citations you have – the titles, authors, journal titles, tags and notes you have for those citations.  The just-plain data is synced on Zotero’s servers and there is no limit to how much of this kind of data you can store on Zotero’s servers and therefore sync across multiple computers.

Just plain data

4.  The other type of data are files – the attachments that your citations may have such as PDFs or screenshots.  These files can quickly take up a lot of space, so Zotero only gives users 300 MB free server space for this type of data.  To give you a picture of how much 300 MB is, a general rule of thumb is that one PDF averages 1 MB.

File data

5.  The bottom half of the Zotero Sync dialogue box asks how you would like to sync files that you have in your Zotero library.  One option is to pay for additional storage space via Zotero.

Sync files

6.  Another option is to use WebDAV storage space.  There are some free WebDAV storage options.  Google free WebDAV to see a current list of what is free and recommended.  Some university departments will provide WebDAV space for their constituents.  If you have WebDAV space available to you, enter the site address for your WebDAV space so that Zotero knows where to store your files.  For questions about setting up WebDAV space, search the Zotero forums for suggestions from other Zotero users.

WebDAV storage space

7.  Once you have set up an account and have navigated through the storage options available to you, you are ready to sync your Zotero library.  Click “ok” and Zotero will start to sync your library with its servers.  You can also click the green arrow in the upper right hand corner of the Zotero toolbar to manually begin the syncing process.

Auto sync