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Zotero is a free, browser-based research tool that collects and stores your research sources in a personal library. It can be used to store bibliographic references as well as PDFs, audio and video files, webpages, and almost anything else you can find with your web browser. With additional word processing plug ins, users can also easily export citations and bibliographies directly into their documents in the citation style they choose. By using Zotero’s synchronization tool, you can access your library with any computer that has Firefox installed or via iOS and Android mobile apps. Zotero can be extremely useful for both professors and students who are looking for an efficient and simple way to store their research sources.

Zotero also facilitates collaboration. The Groups feature allows multiple users to contribute to a shared folder of resources, making Zotero particularly useful for research collaborations and student group projects.

Getting ready

Installing the Zotero Standalone Application

  1. Go to
  2. Click Download Now and scroll down to select the Zotero Standalone
  3. Open the file and install to your computer
  4. Upon downloading, you should be taken to a Download Success page, where you may choose to additionally download the specific Connector for your browser, so that you may save to Zotero directly from that web browser.

Installing the Zotero Firefox Plug-in

  1. Open Mozilla Firefox browser
  2. Go to
  3. Click Download Now and scroll down to select the Zotero for Firefox download
  4. If blocked by Firefox, allow the download, then OK the Firefox restart
  5. Once Firefox restarts, you’ll be at the home page; if you haven’t already done so, create a account [by clicking Register]
  6. Click on the word Zotero , in the lower right corner of the Firefox browser window, this will open Zotero

Set Zotero preferences

  1. Accessing preferences from either the standalone application or Firefox add-on is an identical process. From either, navigate to the gear icon at the top of the application, and select “Preferences”.
  2. On the General tab, check or automatically attach associated PDFs.
  3. On the Sync tab, enter your Zotero username and password (created when you registered). This will allow you to sync your Zotero content across multiple computers
  4. On the Search tab, install PDF Indexing by clicking “Check for installer” and then “Install”. This will gather metadata on .pdfs when available.
  5. On the Advanced tab, replace the Open URL Resolvers entry with: This allows you to access content in Oxy subscription databases.
  6. Restart Firefox if prompted to do so, to save settings

Installing the Word Plug-in

NOTE: This plug-in does not work with Pages or Google Docs. If you do not have Microsoft Office, you can freely download and install LibreOffice, Open Office, or NeoOffice; also, versions of Word before 2000 are not supported, nor is Word 2010 Starter Edition.

  1. Firefox Add-on: Navigate to Preferences >> Cite tab, click on “Get word processor” plug-ins.
  2. Zotero Standalone: Preferences >> Cite tab, click “Install Microsoft Word Add-in.”
    1. If you are on Windows, install the Word for Windows Plugin
    2. If you are on a Mac, check the OS and Firefox versions. Select the appropriate plug-in and follow the directions. You’ll be prompted for a folder for the Zotero Script Menu Items. Use Documents/Microsoft User Data/Word Script Menu Items.
    3. If you are using LibreOffice, OpenOffice or NeoOffice, install the LibreOffice Plugin for Zotero as directed.
  3. The Zotero toolbar in Word for Windows looks like this. Note: in Word 8, it will be on the Add-ins tab.
  4. The Zotero ‘toolbar’ in Word on the Mac is accessed via the Script Scroll icon

Installing Zotero onto an iPad

Zotero can now be accessed from iPads by following these instructions at Profhacker.

Using Zotero

Zotero offers a wide variety of tutorials that will explain how to use all the features.

Zotero Mobile Apps

Zotero does not have their own mobile app, but they have recommended third-party apps that allow you to access and add to your zotero bibliography using your iOS or Android phone. Zotero’s list of recommended mobile apps and descriptions of each app is available here.