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Zotero 6: Your research workflow, transformed

We’re thrilled to announce the release of Zotero 6, the next major version of Zotero and the biggest upgrade in Zotero’s history. Zotero 6 introduces an array of new features to transform how you do research, including a completely new way of working with PDFs and notes.

PDF Reader and New Note Editor

With Zotero 6, you can now:

  • Open PDFs in a new built-in reader within the main Zotero window, in a new tabbed interface
  • Clean up metadata for items while viewing your PDFs
  • Mark up PDFs with highlights, notes, and image annotations
  • Add annotations to Zotero notes with automatic citations, in a powerful new note editor
  • Cite other items directly in notes using Zotero’s familiar citation dialog
  • Insert notes into your Word, LibreOffice, and Google Docs documents with active Zotero citations for automatically generating bibliographies
  • Export notes to external Markdown editors with links back to Zotero items and PDFs

Together with Zotero’s powerful saving abilities and word processor plugins, Zotero can now help you with the entire path from an interesting item online to a cited quote in your final document.

Seamless Annotation Syncing

Like all Zotero library data, the annotations you create will automatically sync across all your Zotero devices. There’s no need to close a PDF on one computer or worry about losing annotations due to sync conflicts.

In addition to annotating your own files, you can also create PDF annotations in group libraries, allowing you to collaboratively mark up PDFs with other group members and immediately see each other’s changes.

Zotero’s PDF reader syncs with our new Zotero iOS app, allowing you to highlight and take notes on your iPad or iPhone and then quickly pull those annotations into a note or word processor document when you’re back at your computer. You can even view ink annotations made with an Apple Pencil.

PDFs will open automatically to your current page, no matter what device you last used.

Annotations in Notes

After you’ve marked up a PDF, you can quickly add some or all annotations to a Zotero note.

Annotations added to notes aren’t just plain text: they include information about the source PDF that lets you quickly jump back to the original page to see context, generate bibliography entries using Zotero’s word processor plugins, toggle annotation colors on and off, include links back to Zotero when exporting to Markdown, and even restore accidentally deleted citations to make sure you’ve properly attributed a quote.

With note templates, you can customize the format of the annotations you add.

If you previously used the ZotFile extension to extract PDF annotations to Zotero notes, you can now use Zotero directly and benefit from these new features.

Adding Notes to Word Processors

When using one of the Zotero word processor plugins, a new “Add Note” button lets you insert any Zotero note directly into the document. Citations in the note, including those generated from PDF annotations, will remain active, so they’ll automatically be added to your bibliography.

Markdown Export

Notes now have their own Quick Copy setting, with a choice between Markdown + Rich Text or raw HTML. You can copy or drag notes from the items list, or even individual annotations from the PDF reader, directly to an external editor, with Markdown links back to the item and PDF page associated with annotations.

Embedded Images in Notes

Zotero notes now support embedded images. You can drag in images from your computer or the web, and they’ll sync to your other devices. You can even create an image annotation in the PDF reader and drag it straight into a note to create a cited image in your document.

Additional Zotero 6 Features

Zotero 6 also continues to refine Zotero’s existing functionality and addresses some popular feature requests.

Non-English Spellchecking

If you write in a language other than English, you can now add over 40 dictionaries for spellchecking in Zotero notes. No more red squiggly lines!

Improved Mendeley and Citavi Import

If you’re currently a Mendeley user (or know one), Zotero’s built-in Mendeley importer will now import Mendeley annotations for use in the new PDF reader. And a new import process allows you to import your Mendeley data directly from the online library (despite the database encryption added by Elsevier that made it impossible to import from a local copy of your own Mendeley library).

Importing from Citavi will now bring in Citavi PDF annotations.

Bundled Safari Extension

For Mac users running Big Sur or later, the Zotero Connector for Safari is now bundled with Zotero and can be enabled from the Extensions pane of the Safari preferences.

Other Changes

For the full list of changes in Zotero 6, see the changelog.

Get Zotero 6

If you’re already running Zotero, you can upgrade from within Zotero by going to Help → “Check for Updates…”.

Don’t yet have Zotero? Get it now from the download page.

Move Zotero Citations Between Google Docs, Word, and LibreOffice

Last year, we added Google Docs integration to Zotero, bringing to Google Docs the same powerful citation functionality — with support for over 9,000 citation styles — that Zotero offers in Word and LibreOffice.

Today we’re adding a feature that lets you move documents between Google Docs and Word or LibreOffice while preserving active Zotero citations. You can now begin writing a document collaboratively in Google Docs and move it to Word or LibreOffice for final editing, or vice versa.

When you use this feature, Zotero will convert the citations and bibliography to a temporary format that can be transferred safely between word processors.

We’ve added instructions for specific word processors, but the basic process is the same:

  1. Choose “Switch to a Different Word Processor…” from the plugin’s Document Preferences window.
  2. Save the converted file.
  3. Open the file in the other word processor.
  4. Click Refresh to continue using it.

Zotero plugin Document Preferences window

In Google Docs, you can also choose “Switch Word Processors…” from the Zotero menu.

Zotero plugin Document Preferences window

While the process should be entirely reversible, we recommend performing the conversion in a copy of the file.

While this conversion process is required to move active citations in and out of Google Docs, you can also use it to move documents between Word and LibreOffice without some of the problems inherent in Bookmarks mode.

You can start using this feature today in Zotero 5.0.72 and Zotero Connector 5.0.57.

Retracted item notifications with Retraction Watch integration

Zotero can now help you avoid relying on retracted publications in your research by automatically checking your database and documents for works that have been retracted. We’re providing this service in partnership with Retraction Watch, which maintains the largest database of retractions available, and we’re proud to help sustain their important work.

How It Works

Retracted publications are flagged in the items list, and if you click on one you’ll see a warning at the top of the item pane with details on the retraction and links to additional information.

If you try to cite a retracted item using the word processor plugin, Zotero will warn you and confirm that you still want to cite it. If you’ve already added a citation to a document and it later is retracted, Zotero will warn you the next time you update the document’s citations, even if the item no longer exists in your Zotero library or was added by a co-author.

Currently, this feature is limited to items with a DOI or PMID (entered in the DOI field or in Extra as “DOI:”, “PMID:”, or “PubMed ID:”), which covers about 3/4 of Retraction Watch data, but we’re hoping to support items without identifiers as best as possible in a future update.

Designed for Privacy

The full retraction data is stored on Zotero servers, but we’ve designed this feature in a way that allows the Zotero client to check for retracted items without sharing the contents of your library. You don’t need to use Zotero syncing or upload a list of items to benefit from this feature.

For each item in your library, Zotero calculates a non-unique identifier that could map to hundreds or thousands of publications, and then compares those to a list of similar partial identifiers of retracted publications that it retrieves from Zotero servers. For each potential match, it requests the full details of all possible retractions, and then checks for local items matching any of those full identifiers and flags any that it finds. The Zotero servers have no way of knowing whether you have the retracted work in your library or one of hundreds or thousands of others. (A similar approach is used by some tools to check for compromised passwords without sharing the passwords they’re checking with the server.) And, as with our other services, we’re not logging the contents of even these anonymized lookups.

This feature is available today in Zotero 5.0.67.

Scan Books into Zotero from Your iPhone or iPad

[Update, October 2022: You can now scan books using the Zotero iOS app, so the iOS shortcut described here is no longer necessary.]

Zotero makes it easy to collect research materials with a single click as you browse the web, but what do you do when you want to add a real, physical book to your Zotero library?

If you have an iPhone or iPad running iOS 12, you can now save a book to Zotero just by scanning its barcode:

This feature takes advantage of the new Shortcuts functionality in iOS 12, which can chain together series of actions to perform tasks.

To get started, you’ll first need to install Apple’s Shortcuts app, if you don’t yet have it on your iPhone or iPad.

Next, install the Scan Book to Zotero shortcut by tapping on the link below from your iPhone or iPad and selecting Open in “Shortcuts”:

Download Shortcut

Update, October 2019: In iOS 13, you need to enable “Allow Untrusted Shortcuts” in Settings to install shortcuts from outside the Shortcuts app Gallery. As of iOS 13.1.2, it may be necessary to first download another shortcut from the Gallery before the option appears in Settings.

After the shortcut opens, tap Done to close it, and then tap on the “Scan Book to Zotero” rectangle. The first time you run it, you’ll need to select “Run Shortcut” and grant the shortcut access to the camera, and you’ll need to log into the Zotero website before you can save. (If you haven’t yet set up syncing with Zotero on your computer, you’ll want to do that as well so that items you save will sync to Zotero on your computer.)

Whenever you want to scan a book into Zotero, you can trigger the shortcut in a number of different ways:

  • You can open the Shortcuts app and select Scan Book to Zotero.
  • You can swipe right from the lock screen or home screen to open the Today View and select Scan Book to Zotero in the Shortcuts widget. If the Shortcuts widget doesn’t appear or doesn’t appear where you want it, you can add or move it via the Edit button at the bottom.
  • If you have an iPhone that supports 3D Touch, you can hard-press on the Shortcuts app icon and select Scan Book to Zotero from the widget popup.
  • You can say something like “Hey Siri, add this book to Zotero”. (Maybe don’t use this one in the library.) To set a phrase for Siri, open the Shortcuts app, tap the three dots in the Scan Book to Zotero rectangle, tap the settings icon in the top right, and then tap Add to Siri and assign a phrase. In our testing, we found Siri support to still be a bit buggy in the current version of Shortcuts, so if Siri doesn’t recognize your phrase, try editing the shortcut and re-recording the phrase or wait for an update from Apple.

Happy scanning!

P.S. If you don’t use an iPhone or iPad, or you can’t upgrade to iOS 12, you can still save a book from your phone when you’re away from your computer by entering the ISBN manually. Simply bookmark this page and load it whenever you need to add a physical book.

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