Skip to Main Content


Storage Options

Zotero provides 300MB of free storage for each account, allowing you to save PDFs, images, web page snapshots, and other files associated with your Zotero library. This storage allows users to access these files from any computer, either by downloading and syncing the Zotero desktop app or by logging into the web version of Zotero.

Faculty and academic staff who need additional storage may request access to our institutional Zotero storage account by emailing

Students who need additional storage can set up cloud storage with Google Drive to make PDFs available on multiple computers without using their Zotero storage quota. For more information about how to do this, please consult the section below: Make Attached PDF Files Available to Zotero On Multiple Computers.

More information about Zotero storage can be found at

Make Attached PDF Files Available to Zotero On Multiple Computers

On Your Primary Computer

  1. In the documents folder of your primary computer, create a folder named "Zotero PDFs".  This is the location you will use to store PDF files you link to Zotero library items.
  2. Use the Google Drive for Desktop application to sync your new "Zotero PDFs" folder with your Google Drive account.
    Note that you can get help setting up Google Drive for desktop from the Bates College IT Help Desk.
  3. From the Zotero desktop application, select: Edit → Preferences → "Advanced" tab→ "Files and Folders" subtab.
    In the resulting "Linked Attachment Base Directory" area, use the "Choose" button to select the directory path to your new "Zotero PDFs" folder.  Now when you make a link from a Zotero library item to a PDF in this folder, rather than creating a link with an absolute file path (e.g. C:\Users\bbobcat\Documents\Zotero PDFs), Zotero will create relative path that starts with the "Zotero PDFs" folder (e.g. Zotero PDFs).  This is very important for our next step.

On Your Secondary Computer

  1. Confirm that you have both the Zotero and Google Drive desktop applications installed and running.
  2. From the Zotero desktop application, select: Edit → Preferences → "Advanced" tab→ "Files and Folders" subtab.
    In the resulting "Linked Attachment Base Directory" area, use the "Choose" button to select the directory path to your "Zotero PDFs" folder available from the "Other Computers" section of your Google Drive for desktop app. 

  3. Your PDF files should now be accessible from the Zotero for desktop application on your secondary computer.
  4. [Optional, but recommended] To make your PDF files accessible without an active internet connection via the Zotero for desktop on your secondary computer, set the Offline Access for your Zotero PDFs folder to "Available Online".


Convert Attached PDF Files Into File Links

Why Should I Use Zotero Library File Links?

Your free Zotero account provides 300 Mb of free cloud library storage.  When this 300 Mb limit is reached, it is still possible to add items with attached PDFs to your Zotero library.  However, only 300 Mb of library data will be backed to the cloud. 

One option to ensure you entire library is being backed up is to purchase additional Zotero storage.  However, for Zotero users with access to other forms of cloud storage (e.g. Google Drive), another option is to migrate attached Zotero library PDF files to a local folder and point to the files in that new location via links in your Zotero library.

Because these links are MUCH smaller than the PDF files they replace, it is possible to back up a much larger Zotero library with your 300 Mb free account.  And because you can back up your new local PDF file folder using another form of cloud storage (e.g. Google Drive), you can safely back up A LOT more PDF files at no additional cost.


How Do I Migrate Attached PDF Files To A New Folder and Create Links To The Files In The New Location?

Installing and Configuring the ZotFile AddOn
  1. In you local Documents folder (i.e. not iCloud), create a new folder called "Zotero PDFs".
  2. Download and Install the Zotero ZotFile plugin.
  3. Configure ZotFile preferences:
    1. From the Zotero desktop application select:
      Tools → ZotFile Preferences → "General Settings" tab
    2. Set the "Source Folder For Attaching New Files" location to be your local "Downloads" folder using the "Choose" button.
    3. Set the "Location Of Files" file path to be your new "Zotero PDFs" folder in your local "Documents" directory using the "Choose" button.

Migrating, Linking, and Renaming Your Attached Zotero PDF Files
  1. From the Zotero desktop application, select the "My Library" folder and select all of the items in your library.  Then right click on the selected items.  From the resulting dialog window select Manage Attachments → Rename and Move.

  2. This process renames your attached PDF files and moves them from your Zotero library to your local "Zotero PDFs" folder, creating a link from the Zotero item record to the PDF file in this new location.
    Files are renamed using the rules defined in the "Renaming Rules" tab in Tools → ZotFile Properties.