Zotero for Tablets

Chart comparing Zotero's mobile solutions


Use ZotFile to send PDFs from your Zotero library to your tablet to read and annotate and then send them back to your Zotero library. To begin, you will need a folder on your computer that syncs with your tablet’s reader app. Dropbox is a good option. Choose an appropriate name for the folder, such as “Zotero to tablet.” Next, get the ZotFile Add-on.

Select Add-ons from Firefox’s Tools menu:

Adding ZotFile in Firefox Add-ons

Find ZotFile and select Add to Firefox:

Adding ZotFile to Firefox

Then Allow, Install, and Restart:




When you open the Actions menu in your Zotero, you should now see ZotFile Preferences listed below Preferences. Select ZotFile Preferences.

ZotFile Preferences

In the Tablet Settings tab, check Use Zotfile to send and get files from tablet and choose the folder you have created to sync with your tablet’s reader app as the Base Folder. Then select OK.

Tablet Settings

And OK again:

Saving Tablet Settings

When you right click on an item in your Zotero library with a PDF attachment, in Manage Attachments, you will be given the option Send to Tablet:

Manage Attachments

When you select Send to Tablet, you will see Zotfile working to send the attachment in the lower right-hand corner of your screen just like when you save items to Zotero:

ZotFile sending attachment

You can get your attachments back from your tablet by once again right clicking on the item, selecting Manage Attachments, and then Get from Tablet:

Get attachments back

Once again, you’ll see Zotfile working to get the attachment from your tablet in the lower right-hand corner of your screen:

ZotFile sending attachment

The attachment in your Zotero library will now contain any annotations you made while working with it on your tablet.


Use ZotPad to read and annotate the PDFs in your Zotero library on your iPad and save them back to your Zotero library using the ZotPad app.

Once you download the app, login to your Zotero web account and accept the default ZotPad key:

Accept ZotPad key

Your Zotero library will look similar to this:

Appearance of Zotero Library

Once you select a collection, you’ll see all of the PDFs in that collection. Initially, the PDF icons will be grayed out as long as you have selected Active items in the Attachment files options in ZotPad Settings:

List of PDFs

Attachment files

Once you select an item, the PDF icon becomes active and your attachment is downloaded.

Selecting pdf

You will then send your PDF to your favorite app to annotate. To do this select Open in… from the Actions Menu:

Send your pdf to app for annotation

And then chose the app you’d like to use to annotate your PDF:

Choose your app

If you have purchased the GoodReader app, you may select this directly from the Actions Menu or in ZotPad Settings to always open your Zotero attachments in GoodReader:

Send to Goodreader

Your PDF in GoodReader will look like this:

Image of PDF in Goodreader

Use GoodReader’s annotation tools and then save your work as the same file.

Annotate in Goodreader

Finally send your PDF back to ZotPad by selecting Open in ZotPad from GoodReader’s Action Menu at the lower right hand corner of your screen:

Go to Open in... in Goodreader Select Open in Zotero in Goodreader

This process looks slightly different with other annotation apps.

In iAnnotate you’ll send your PDF back to ZotPad via the Actions Menu on the left panel, again using Open In ZotPad:

Open in Zotero using iAnnotate

In Adobe Reader you’ll send your PDF back to ZotPad using Open In ZotPad from the Actions Menu in the upper right hand corner of your screen:

Open in using Adobe Reader Open in ZotPad using Adobe Reader

Zotero Bookmarklet

You can use the Zotero Bookmarklet to add items to your Zotero library from a mobile device. A bookmarklet is different from a typical bookmark in that it provides extra instructions for your browser. To make a bookmarklet, first make a regular bookmark by using your browser’s bookmark function.

Making a bookmark on an iPad

Your bookmark is given a default name and web address. In this case the HKS Library Homepage will be bookmarked once Save is selected.

Saved bookmark on an iPad

After you’ve created your bookmark, you must edit it.

Editing a bookmark on an iPad

Then select the bookmark you are going to edit.

Selecting a bookmark to edit on an iPad

Change the name of the bookmark to reflect its future function. In this case something like "Save to Zotero" would be appropriate, so change “Harvard Kennedy School Library” to “Save to Zotero.”

Renaming a bookmark on an iPad

Finally, copy the code specific to your device from Zotero Bookmarklet and paste it below Save to Zotero, replacing the current web address.

Copy code from Zotero website

Then paste it as the address for Save to Zotero.

Paste code to bookmark address

Now you are ready to use your Zotero bookmarklet to save items to your Zotero library from your mobile device. To do so, make sure you are logged in to your Zotero web account. When you find an item you want to save from a database, simply select the bookmarklet you’ve named “Save to Zotero.”

Save article to Zotero

This will instruct the browser to send that item to your Zotero library. You will see the article being sent in the lower right hand side of your screen.

Saving to Zotero box

Your item is now saved in your general Zotero library. You’ll be able to see your item was added to the general library if you sort by date. Then you may move your new item to your desired location.

Locating article in General Library

In this case, I will move my new article to the appropriate collection.

Add article to relevant collection

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