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What is Zotero?

Zotero is a free and open source citation management software that helps Bates students, staff, and faculty members collect, organize, and cite sources found online and in library databases. 

Zotero makes it easy to capture and save citation data with a single click, and also saves connected PDFs when they are available. Users can organize their Zotero libraries by creating collections for their classes, assignments, or thesis topics. Once users are ready to write, Zotero can be used to generate citations and bibliographies, and can be integrated into Google Docs and Microsoft Word.

Additional features in Zotero include the ability to sync your library across multiple devices and the ability to collaborate with Zotero group libraries.

Download and Install Zotero

To set up Zotero, you will need to install two components on your computer: the Zotero desktop application and the Zotero Connector, a browser extension that will allow you to save sources with a single click.

To begin, go to, then follow these steps:

  1. Download the desktop application installer (on the left side of the download webpage)
  2. Open the desktop application installer, and follow the installation instructions.
  3. Install the Zotero Connector browser extension (on the right side of the download webpage)

System Requirements and Plug-ins

Zotero can be used on macOS10.11 or later, Windows 7 or later, Linux, and iOS 15.6 or later operating systems. Zotero is not compatible with Chromebooks.

Browser connectors are available for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. The Zotero Connector for Safari is bundled with Zotero. You can enable it from the Extensions pane in the Safari settings.

Plug-ins are available that integrate Zotero into Microsoft Word and Google Docs. For more information on setting up and using word processor plug-ins, visit Add Citations and Bibliographies to Documents.

Register and Sync a Zotero Account

Zotero can be used as soon as you download the desktop application and browser extension. We recommend creating a free Zotero account and syncing your library.

There are two types of syncing: Data Syncing, which syncs library item information, and File Syncing, which also syncs file attachments, including full text pdfs, associated with your library items. If you use data syncing, your citations will be saved in the cloud, and access to your Zotero library will be available on other devices. Using File Syncing will additionally save the attached pdfs to the cloud for access from anywhere.

One note regarding File Synching: If you have a larger number of files, you may exceed the free storage space provided by Zotero. After this limit is reached, new attachments added locally would not be synced to your library items. Data syncing is not impacted by Zotero’s free storage limit.

For more information on Zotero storage including additional options for unlimited File Synching, visit our page onZotero storage.


Register for a Zotero account at We recommend that you register with your Bates email address. Once registered, we also strongly recommend that you add an additional email address as a failsafe, to ensure that you will have access to your Zotero collections after you leave Bates and lose access to your Bates email. 


Open the Zotero desktop application, and navigate to your Zotero preferences.

  • On a PC preferences are located under the Edit menu.
  • On a Mac preferences are located under the Zotero menu.
  • On PC or Mac, from the preferences window, navigate to the Sync tab, then click Link Account and log in with your Zotero username and password.
  • On iOs navigate to the Settings by tapping the gear symbol, then click on Account and log in with your Zotero username and password.
  • Once your account is linked, you will see additional options to activate or deactivate File Synching.


Recommended Setup

We recommend the following configurations and tweaks to optimize your Zotero setup.

Add a Citation Preview View to Zotero

Download the Zotero Preview extension by following this link. Then in the tools menu in the Zotero application, open the the add-ons window, then click on the gear icon and select Install Add-on From File. Open the ZoteroPreview.xpi then follow the prompt to Install Now. You will then be prompted to restart Zotero to complete the add-on installation.


Connect to Full Text in the Bates Library

On the Advanced tab of the Zotero Preferences window, in the OpenURL section, enter the url This will activate the Library Lookup tool that can connect you to the full text for your Zotero sources via our Bates library database subscriptions. 

Reduce Tag Clutter

On the General tab of the Zotero Preferences window, uncheck "Automatically tag items with keywords and subject headings." Unchecking this option will reduce clutter in your tags and allow you to create your own, more practical tags.

Disable Proxy Redirection

Open the Zotero Connector options in your prefered browser and navigate to the Proxies tab. Uncheck the box next to " Enable proxy redirection" to disable automatic proxy detection pop-up messages that appear when accessing databases on the campus network.