Available for beta testing: Updated reader with EPUB/snapshot support and new annotation types

edited September 5, 2023
We're very excited to share something we've been working on for a while: a major upgrade to Zotero's reading and annotation capabilities.

The latest Zotero 7 beta includes the next major version of the built-in PDF reader, which, in fact, is no longer just a PDF reader. The new reader adds support for reading and annotating EPUBs and webpage snapshots in addition to PDFs, and it introduces several new annotation types.

These features are available in the Zotero 7 beta today, and they'll be coming to the web library and iOS app later this year.


EPUB is the most popular ebook file format, and many people prefer EPUBs to PDFs for the improved reading experience they provide. Unlike PDFs, which have fixed layouts, most EPUBs allow text to reflow to the size of your window or device, and you can adjust the font and text size to your liking.

EPUBs now open in Zotero's built-in reader in the same way as PDFs, and you can annotate them and add those annotations to notes just as you've been able to for PDFs. (If you'd prefer to open EPUBs in an external reader, you can of course continue to do so, but you won't be able to use Zotero's annotation tools.)

Zotero can also automatically retrieve metadata for most EPUBs and create a parent item.

While Zotero won't yet download EPUBs automatically from websites, we'll soon make it possible to specify whether to save PDFs or EPUBs when both are available, and then we'll begin the process of updating site translators to support EPUBs. If there's a site that provides EPUBs that you'd like us to support, please let us know in a new thread.

Webpage Snapshots

Zotero already saves webpage snapshots on news articles and other pages, and those now open automatically in the new reader as well, enabling you to annotate webpages as easily as PDFs.

New Annotation Types

We've also added support for creating ink, underline, and text annotations. Ink annotations were already supported on iOS, and now it's possible to create them in the desktop app as well. (This obviously works best if you have a touchscreen PC or stylus.) Underline annotations work just like highlights, while text annotations allow you to add text directly to the page.

Underline annotations are available in all three file formats, while ink and text annotations are available in PDFs only.

Other Changes

In addition to the new file and annotations types, we've fixed various bugs in the reader. It's also now possible to resize highlight annotations after you create them (e.g., if you didn't get the selection right initially).

You might also notice a popup when you hover over intra-PDF links that shows part of the target page (e.g., to quickly see a reference). We're still working on that feature, and we'll announce when it's ready for testing.


The new reader is a work in progress, and there are some bugs even in PDF mode, so we're initially making the new beta available only for manual updates via Help → "Check for Updates…" or the beta download page. If you're already on the Zotero 7 beta, you'll remain on your current build for the next week or two while we fix some of the regressions. Once you've updated to the new reader version, you'll continue getting automatic updates.

If you do upgrade, be aware that once you create underline or text annotations, you won't be able to switch back to Zotero 6 with the same database (though you can delete your database and pull data down from your online library).[Update: Zotero 6.0.27 can open databases with underline and text annotations from Zotero 7, though those annotations won't appear in the PDF reader.] Creating underline or text annotations won't affect other synced devices with Zotero 6 or earlier Zotero 7 builds — you just might get a warning that some data couldn't be downloaded.

Reporting Problems

Please start new threads for any problems you encounter with the new reader, and as always, be sure to put "Zotero 7 Beta" in the thread title.

Thanks for helping to test Zotero!
  • edited August 8, 2023
    Thanks for the great feature. I like the epub reader, I think calibre in my laptop will be retired soon. But I found a problem when I opened an epub file in Zotero, it stuck for about 10s. I uploaded this file to google drive https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-5ihSfvFBzsoFvm-sGHDvTgQGzoM66MA/view?usp=sharing

  • Thank your for the great job !
  • Thanks for developing this snapshot feature, you can preview the content of the page clipping directly in zotero, and you can take notes. It would be even better if the snapshot preview page could be scaled up or down or adapted!
  • Thanks for these great features!
  • Great news!
  • Great news! I wonder whether the ink, underline, and text annotations are available for scanned PDFs (whose text are not editable) ?
  • @fang_zhe: You can use ink and text annotations anywhere in the PDF. Underline, like, highlight, only works on text layers.
  • Thank you for adding this feature, excellent!
  • Wonderful news! Zotero has become even more useful. Thanks for a great job!
  • Wonderful news!
  • It's great with these new features. I hope the plugin is able to adapt to new versions in a timely manner.
  • Fantastic news! Epubs + resizing + free ink are outstanding updates. Many thanks
  • edited August 18, 2023
    Thank you very much for the great and powerful updates.
  • Totally Great! Insanely Great! :y
  • Will it add the ability to annotate PDFs in the web interface?
  • @stankapl: Yes, we're working on it.
  • Thank you for the great work! I have experienced the new Zotero 7 and feels great! I think it will more perfect if the title bar and menu bar could been hidden in windows like it has been on MacOS.
  • Wow, thank you, thats a huge feature update. I'll be testing it out this week.
  • Will we be able to resize the margins to provide extra annotation space? I currently have to take the pdf to PDF-XChange to enlarge margins. I use this space to annotate articles for students with questions, definitions, links and even pictures. Hope this will be available.
  • Wonderful to follow a long thread about the need for annotation of HTML documents, and find a link to this new feature announcement. Would that all open source projects could be developed this thoughtfully and successfully! My hat is off to you, developers (and designers).
  • I echo that, AmosBlanton. Zotero and its developers are an extraordinary gift to the planet.
  • Thank you for supporting the epub file. Please add the following features: 1) Two-page or two-column view for epub, 2) Dark mode on Windows.
  • @cjchavhan: View → Odd Spreads
  • This is amazing! Can't wait to try those
  • Dear @dstillman, dear whole Zotero (dev) team: Thank you so much for the EPUB support. I literally discovered this when casually going through the settings of the Zotero 7 Beta I'd manually downloaded. :-)

    Like possibly many others, the missing EPUB reader was (the) one thing that had me “itching” as the one where I still depended on third-party solutions for reading and annotating, and having this now is just great news!
  • Amazing news! Thank you for the update
  • Just to note, Zotero 6.0.27, now available, can open databases with underline and text annotations from the Zotero 7 beta, so it should again be possible to switch back and forth between Zotero 6 and 7 with the same database. The new annotation types just won't appear in the Zotero 6 PDF reader.
  • We've also begun offering the beta with the updated reader to all Zotero 7 beta users, so a manual update is no longer required.
  • Thank you so much for the EPUBs. Very much awaited!
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