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Building the Standalone Client

Note: The instructions below are not aimed for general use by the everyday user of Zotero. Some of the information below may need to be updated to work with the current code. Please update the instructions as necessary.

Building on Mac OS X, Linux, and other POSIX platforms


  • perl
  • bash
  • git

On most Linux distributions and on Mac OS X with Xcode, all but git are preinstalled.

To install git on OS X, install homebrew and run:

brew install git

(You may also use MacPorts or Fink instead of homebrew.)

To install git on Ubuntu or other dpkg-based Linux distributions:

apt-get install git


  1. Get zotero-standalone-build and enter the directory
    git clone --recursive
    cd zotero-standalone-build
  2. Modify to build only for your desired platform(s) by changing the BUILD_MAC, BUILD_WIN32, and BUILD_LINUX variables at the top of the scripts. For example, if you intend to build only for Linux, change



    Note: Because of the way Mozilla packages XULRunner, can only retrieve Mac builds on OS X.

  3. Run

    This will add unpacked XULRunner builds to the xulrunner/ subdirectory of the zotero-standalone-build directory.

  4. Run

    Your desired builds should now be available in uncompressed form in the staging/ subdirectory, or in distributable form in the dist/ subdirectory.

Building on Windows



  1. Open a Cygwin prompt, and navigate to a folder under which zotero project files should be stored.
  2. Verify that git is set to check out files without modifying line-endings.
    $ git config --global core.autocrlf

    This may not be the case if you've selected the default options while installing the Windows version of git. If so, temporarily change this with the following.

    $ git config --global core.autocrlf input

    See the git manual for details on this setting.

  3. Check out zotero-standalone-build from its home on GitHub.
    git clone --recursive git://
    cd zotero-standalone-build
  4. Add executable privileges to ReplaceVistaIcon
    chmod 755 win/ReplaceVistaIcon/ReplaceVistaIcon.exe
  5. Modify to build only for your desired platform(s) by changing the BUILD_MAC, BUILD_WIN32, and BUILD_LINUX variables at the top of the scripts. For example, if you intend to build only for Windows, change


  6. Also adapt the paths in to point to the correct executables of 7zip, UPX, NSIS, and the Windows SDK. You might want to set SIGN=1 to 0, to stop getting error messages
  7. Fetch XULRunner and build Zotero Standalone:

Installation and Packaging Notes

Note: These instructions are not applicable on OS X, which handles protocol handler and MIME type registration through the bundled Info.plist file. Additionally, they are only applicable on Windows if, for some ungodly reason, you want to install Zotero Standalone without running the installer.

Protocol handler registration

Zotero Standalone should be registered as the system's default protocol handler for the zotero:// protocol. This is necessary to make clicking the Zotero button in Firefox open Zotero Standalone when both are running simultaneously.

File extensions and MIME types

Zotero should be registered as a handler for the following file extensions and MIME types:

File type description File extension(s) MIME type(s)
Research Information Systems Document ris application/x-research-info-systems
ISI Common Export Format Document ciw, isi application/x-inst-for-Scientific-info
Metadata Object Description Schema Document mods application/mods+xml
Resource Description Framework Document rdf application/rdf+xml
BibTeX Document bib, bibtex application/x-bibtex
MARC Record mrc, marc application/marc
CSL Citation Style csl text/x-csl
dev/client_coding/building_the_standalone_client.txt · Last modified: 2014/06/06 01:59 by aurimas