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Using Zotero

9 Steps to install Zotero

Zotero is already installed on campus computers. If you are using a campus computer (classrooms, labs, and checkout laptops), you do not need to install Zotero. Simply open it and skip to step 5, creating your account.

If you want to install Zotero on your personal computer, follow the instructions below.

  1. Visit Zotero.org/download to download the free and open source program, which includes two components:
    • the desktop application
    • the browser connector
  2. The desktop application allows you to run the Zotero word processor Add-ins.
    • The desktop download includes Add-ins for MS Word, Google Docs and LibreOffice.
    • The desktop application is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
    • There is no Chromebook desktop application.
  3. The browser connector is the most fundamental component of Zotero.
    • There are connectors available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Edge.
    • If you use a tablet or phone, there is a bookmarklet option that allows you to save items as well.
    • The Chrome connector works great on Chromebooks.
  4. Create an account. You can use any email account you'd like, but you will be prompted to verify your email, so use an email you remember the password for! You can also add and change email accounts to your Zotero account later.
  5. Open the Zotero application on your computer (if it does not open automatically).
    • Windows: use the Start Button and scroll down to the bottom of the alphabetical list for Zotero.
    • Mac: use Spotlight to search for "Zotero."
  6. Log in to your account.
    • Open Zotero preferences.
      • Windows: In the Edit menu, select Preferences.
      • Mac: In the Zotero menu, select Preferences.
    • In the Sync tab of Zotero Preferences, login with the username & password you created in step 4.
  7. In the Cite tab, choose the citation style you will be using most often. You can switch this later at any time.
  8. In the Cite tab, open the Word Processors tab and install any Add-ins that you would like to use (you must have the software for those Add-ins to work).
  9. Open your word processor program to make sure your Zotero tools have been added. Zotero works with MS Word, Google Docs, and LibreOffice. Note: if you already had your word processor program open, you will need to restart it.

Depending on your computer and software, the download process can be more complicated than the steps above. If you are having issues getting Zotero installed, visit the Troubleshooting guide or contact a librarian.

Your Zotero Account

Free & Open Source Software

Zotero is an open-source platform and does not use your email to send spam or advertisements. It is also a free service with a limit of 300 MB of cloud storage in the Web Library. That should be more than enough for any HSU student and we do not recommend signing up for a paid storage plan. However, you can upgrade at reasonable rates (the next tier is $20/year for 2 GB of cloud storage). Also, there is no limit (other than your computer's hard drive) for storage in the desktop application. You are only limited to 300 MB for the Web Library, which is not strictly necessary if you use your own computer. The Zotero Web Library is particularly useful for syncing across devices, but doesn't necessarily need to be used if you always use the same device.

If, after trying out Zotero, you decide it is not for you, you can simply delete your account and uninstall the application from your computer. If you are curious about how Zotero.org uses your data, take a look at the terms of service and/or the cloud service privacy policy.

The organization behind the development of Zotero, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, does amazing work. If you're interested, you should check them out!