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Mendeley: Build Your Research Library

This guide will help you use Mendeley, the reference manager and academic collaboration network.

Building your Mendeley Library

Below are several ways that you can add citations to Mendeley to build your research library:

Remember that all the citations added to your personal Mendeley Library are also added to the database of citations that Mendeley shares with everyone. If you don't want a citation in your personal Mendeley Library to be added to the crowd-sourced library (e.g., unpublished papers, personal manuscripts), check Unpublished work at the bottom of the document details. 

See also Mendeley's Guide to Adding Existing Documents and Guide to Finding and Importing New Content.


The Sync function will synchronize your library data to Mendeley Reference Manager, Desktop, and Mobile.

 Sync     Sync Settings

To edit Sync options, select All Documents in your Mendeley Desktop library. Then select Edit Settings to choose to have all documents or specific folders synced to your Mendeley Web account. Being selective about what you sync will help you stay within your Web Space storage limits.

Import / Drag PDF

A quick and easy way to get citations into your Mendeley Library is to drag PDF files or folders of PDFs into the middle pane of your Mendeley Desktop window. Mendeley will attempt to extract the citation information from the PDFs, and the new citations will show up in under Recently Added. If the extracted citation information is incomplete or missing, the citation will end up in Needs Review.

My Library       

You can also add your existing PDF files or folders to Mendelely using the Add Files menu in Mendeley Desktop.

Note: not all PDFs have information that can be extracted by Mendeley, and sometimes the citation information will be missing, incomplete, or incorrect. You may have to enter citation information manually, search the Mendeley catalog, or enter the DOI, PMID, or ArcXiv ID under Catalog IDs and use the Lookup (magnifying glass).

Import from Database with Web Importer

After installing the Web Importer (bookmarklet) in your favorite browser, you can use the web importer button (red Mendeley icon) on your bookmarks toolbar when you are viewing a citation record or list of search results in a supported database (including Web of Science, PubMed, Google Scholar). Be aware that the Web Importer may not always bring in all citations from your results list and/or may bring in incomplete citation information.

As you add the citation(s) to your Library, you can choose to put them in a particular folder. You can also choose 'download PDFs if available,' though this feature may or may not work well.   

Enter Citation Manually

Under the Files menu or the Add Files drop-down (Add New in Mendeley Reference Manager), there is an option to enter citation information manually.

Set Up a Watch Folder

You can have Mendeley 'watch' certain folders on your computer, then as PDFs are added to these folders they get imported into Mendeley automatically. Choose File - Watch Folder in Mendeley Desktop.

Export from Other Citation Managers

If you already have citations in another citation manager like RefWorks, EndNote, or Zotero, you can export the records into RIS, BibTeX, PDF or EndNote XML file format. Then back in Mendeley, choose File, then Import, to import the records to your Mendeley Library.

Export from Citation Databases

In some databases, such as our ProQuest databases, the Save to Mendeley button does not work well. In that case, look for an option like Export / Save Citation, then save or export the citation in RIS format. Depending on the database, either do Direct Export - Open With - Mendeley. Or, save the RIS file and import it into Mendeley by choosing File - Import (or drag the file into Mendeley Desktop).

FAQ: Where do the PDFs get saved on my computer?

Where your database files are stored depends on your operating system. The default location for the different operating systems is:

  • Windows 7,8,10: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Mendeley Ltd.\Mendeley Desktop\
  • Mac OS X: /Users/< Your username> /Library/Application Support/Mendeley Desktop/
  • Linux: ~/.local/share/data/Mendeley Ltd./Mendeley Desktop/