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Instructional Video

Setting-up Zotero

This video provides instructions and a demonstration for setting up a Zotero account; creating a group library; downloading and setting-up the Zotero application; adding the Zotero web-browser connectors; and installing ZotFile add-on.

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Connecting Zotero Desktop to your Online Account

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 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) user account. Then:

  1. Open Zotero Preferences by clicking on the “Sync with” button in the upper right corner of the Zotero library.“Sync with” button in upper right corner 
  2. In the Sync tab, enter your Zotero user name and password. 
    • By default, Zotero will sync your local data with the Zotero servers whenever changes are made.
    • To disable automatic syncing, uncheck the “Sync automatically” checkbox in this section (more info about Zotero Syncing).
  3. Close Zotero Preferences by clicking on the close button in the upper left of the window
  4. Click on “Sync with” button in the top right corner of the Zotero window and Zotero will upload your library to the cloud. 
  5. Repeat this configuration on each of your computers. 

Any updates you make on one of your computers will be reflected on the others.

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

Screenshot of Sync window in Zotero Preferences - includes login prompt of how to set up data synching the Zotero Account with your computer

Connecting Zotero to Microsoft Word

Zotero offers word processing plugins (also called Add-Ins) for Microsoft Word and LibreOffice. The plugin adds a Zotero toolbar ribbon to your word processor that allows you to add citations to your document while you write.  

Installing Microsoft Word Plugin

For more details on synching your Zotero account with Microsoft Word, please visit Zotero's documentation for Word Processor Plugins


Red warning icon.IMPORTANT:

  • Microsoft Word must be closed during this installation process, and restarted once you have completed the following steps. 
  • Zotero should be displayed in Word's top menu. If not, you may need to update the Word software or manually add the Word plugin.  


Manually adding Word Plugin

Zotero's troubleshooting page has tips for issues with adding Word Plugin.

Adding via Zotero Standalone application
  • Open Preferences (under Edit tab for PC and Zotero tab for Mac) and click the Cite button (icon is a blue file folder).
  • In this menu, click on the second tab 'Word Processors' then click the button in the first box 'Install Microsoft Word Add-in' ("LibreOffice is the other option).
  • Reopen Word and the Zotero ribbon should be visible along the top toolbar of the window. 


Using Microsoft Word Plugin


Red warning icon.IMPORTANT:

  • The Zotero Standalone application must be open to use the processor plug-ins after it has been installed. 


Creating in-text citations and bibliographies in Word

For instructions on how to create in-text citations and bibliographies with Zotero in Word, take a look at this guide's Saving Citations page - MS Word: Adding In-Text Citations & Bibliographies or Zotero's documentation on using Word plugin with Zotero.

Zotero Preferences window with Cite tab open. Red arrow identifies the 'Install Microsoft Word Add-In' button in the Word Processors tab.

Connecting Zotero to Google Docs

Connecting Zotero and Google Docs

The Zotero Connector must be installed before you can use Google Docs with Zotero.screenshot of Google Docs with Zotero heading in main menu clicked on to see all action options.

  • When you open Google Docs, you should see a Zotero option added to your menu.
  • Click on the Zotero option and it will prompt you to authenticate the plugin with your Google account.


Red warning icon.IMPORTANT:

  • You will need to have Zotero Standalone open to add in-text citations and set up your bibliography. 


Learn more about Google Docs & Zotero

Troubleshooting - Plan B: Export your Library as a file

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

From Zotero's top navigation menu, Select File, and select Export Library. 

Screenshot of drop down File tab menu highlighting the "Export Library" option.

You have the option to export the file in different formats (default is Zotero RDF) and under Translator Options, you can choose to Export Notes and Files. The default format is Zotero RDF, this format primarily works for sharing your library with other Zotero users.  Learn more about exporting your Zotero library

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

drop down menu for Export Formats options for Zotero Library

Sharing your Library with someone else?

Zotero users can share resources by creating a group library, but exporting allows you to share your library with people using other citation management tools, such as EndNote or Mendeley, and for these the RIS file type is typically the best choice.  The RIS file type allows your citation information and any notes you have made about the item to be exported.