Users new to Zotero may find the prospect of importing all their data somewhat daunting. Zotero can import bibliographic data in a wide variety of formats, but what of PDFs? Many researchers find themselves managing a massive collection of PDFs, possibly with another program designed only for that purpose or through their own methods. Zotero makes it a breeze to import these PDFs, which takes much of the pain out of switching.
Zotero can take PDFs of scholarly papers and query the Google Scholar database for matches. The most straight-forward way it does this is by matching up an embedded Digital Object Identifier (DOI), but that's far from necessary. If Zotero finds the PDF in Google Scholar, it creates a new library item for the paper, downloads the bibliographic metadata from and attaches the original PDF to the new item. Begin by dragging your existing PDFs into your Zotero library (currently broken on linux) or use the “Store Copy of File” option from the add new item menu (green plus sign). Once they appear in the middle column, select the ones for which you wish to retrieve metadata. Right click on them and select “Retrieve Metadata for PDF”. If Zotero was able to find a match on Google Scholar, you should be all set. With this feature, there should be no major hurdles to switching to Zotero and taking full advantage of all its powerful search, indexing, organizational and citation features.
While this feature can greatly facilitate importing large existing libraries of PDFs, the imported data, especially where Zotero uses Google Scholar, is of lower quality than importing via Web Translator from most scholarly databases.