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Zotero: Syncing Your Data

This guide will help you use the free online citation and research management tool Zotero to organize citations from Library catalogs and databases.

Your Zotero Files

To determine where your Zotero data is being stored, go to the Advanced tab of Zotero Preferences and look under "Files and Folders."  The default directory is listed under "Data Directory Location."

Location of data directory

Syncing your data and files

All of the item information, notes, and attachments imported into your Zotero collection are stored locally in this directory on your computer. If you would like to be able to access your collections from any computer connected to the Internet, then you must register with Zotero for an account and sync your data between your computer and Zotero's servers.

Data syncing

Everything in your collections, including notes, links, and tags, will be saved to the server. There is no limit to the amount of data that can be synced. (Note this is different from File Syncing, which is covered below.)

After you have registered with Zotero, open Zotero's Sync preferences tab and enter your login information in the Zotero Sync Server section.

Data syncing screen

At the next screen you will be provided with options for Data Syncing.  If you choose Sync Automatically, each time changes are made, Zotero will automatically sync your data. If you disable this option, you can sync manually at any time by clicking the “Sync with Zotero Server” button (sync icon) on the right-hand side of the Zotero application.

setting up preferences

By default, Zotero will merge your local Zotero library with your library on—any changes you make in one place will be applied to the other and on all other synced computers. If an item has changed in multiple places between syncs, you'll receive a conflict resolution dialog asking which version you'd like to keep. In the rare case that you want to completely overwrite your server library with the contents of your local library or vice versa, you can use the Sync Reset Options.

File syncing with Zotero

In the image above, the options for File Syncing with Zotero are selected. Data syncing syncs library items, but doesn't sync attached files (PDFs, audio and video files, images, etc.).  The options here allow you to set up file syncing to accompany data syncing, using Zotero File Storage. Each Zotero user is given 300 MB of free Zotero File Storage for attached files, with larger storage plans available for purchase.

File syncing with WebDAV

Another option for remote storage of files is to use a WebDAV service. Zotero does not provide support for third party WebDAV providers and when you set it up, you should make sure to use the "Verify Server" option to ensure that Zotero can successfully verify the WebDAV account. 

Since everyone at UC Berkeley now has unlimited storage on, we advise you use this online space to sync the documents that are downloaded with Zotero. 

These instructions assume that you have downloaded Zotero already and have registered an account with them. You will need a Zotero login and password to proceed. login   At log in with your UC Berkeley email address, leave the password blank. When you click on Log In, you will then be brought to the CalNet authentication screen. If you have not used before, the act of logging in and authenticating creates an account for you.
showing menu dropdown       Under the drop down menu next to your initials, select Account Settings
where on page to find place to create external password       Scroll down the page until you find the Authentication section. Here you need to create a password that can be used by third-party applications like Zotero. Note: this password must be at least 10 characters long and mixed uppercase and lowercase. It must also have at least 2 numbers and 1 symbol. 
syncing settings       In the Zotero application go to Edit > Preferences and choose Sync. 

In the File Syncing section, check the box next to Sync attachment files in my My Library using and change the selection to WebDAV

Type into the available space. (Don't cut and paste this address, type it into the box.)

Fill in your username and external password from the previous step. 

pop-up message  

Click Verify Server button to check the connection.  

If this message appears, click Create.

Then click Verify Server again.


If the connection was established correctly, any file attachments downloaded with citation information into Zotero will be uploaded into a folder called Zotero in your account. These files are zipped and cannot be viewed in But when you are at another computer and use these settings to sync your account and attachments, your files will be visible in an unzipped format. 

For Sync to work properly, you must set up the Zotero Sync Server and File Syncing on each computer you use to collect citations using Zotero. 

It is not recommended that you do this on a shared computer. But if you do, log out when you are finished so no one accidentally saves their citations to your account. Open the Zotero preferences and delete the sync information you filled out. 


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