Transferring Group Library to My Library


I currently own a group library that has exceeded the storage limits, so its files reside only on my local machine. I also have a personal library stored on WebDAV for syncing across devices.
My goal is to migrate all of the data from my current computer to a new one. Originally, I had planned to:
1. Consolidate the group library contents into my personal library
2. Sync the combined library to WebDAV
3. Access everything from the new computer via WebDAV
However, I have found that neither copying and pasting the group library folder, nor using the "Export/Import RDF" function, reliably transfers all attached files to the personal library.

So, my question is how to:
1. Fully transfer the group library (with all attachments intact) to my personal library
2. Subsequently sync the combined files to WebDAV
3. Access the complete collection from the new computer

Preserving all references and file attachments is crucial.

Thanks a lot
  • It should transfer all files as long as they exist locally. If you have it set to download files "as needed" in groups, you'll need to set that to "at sync time". (A future version will download the files automatically if you try to copy them.)

    Also note that if you've dragged the items previously without the files existing, you'll need to delete the dragged items in the target library first and then drag again — it won't replace the existing items. (This too will be improved in the future.)
  • The entries are transferred normally but the attachments are not complete. I think the problem is that the group library size exceeds my storage limit, so when I copy them to the local library, only the attachments that are available in the cloud are synced to my local library.
    Is there any way to locally transfer my group library to my personal library on the old machine then sync it after completion of the attachments transfer?
  • The files would exist in the group library on whatever computer you added them, so you could copy them there.
  • The files of the group library are not available on the new computer because the library size is exceeding my Zotero storage. When I try to copy them to a new collection in my personal library, they are not transferred correctly, missing some attachments.
  • Right, as I say, you'd have to copy them from the computer where you added them, since that's the only place they actually exist.
  • Should that be done manually and added to each entry in the collection? Or is there a way to do that automatically?
  • I'm not sure what you mean. But as I say, if you dragged items previously without attachment files, you'd need to delete the items (including the parent items) in the target library and re-drag them from the computer where the attachments exist.
  • You mean re-drag the pdf from the Zotero storage folder on my computer manually?
  • edited November 27, 2023
    No, all we're talking about here is dragging items between libraries in Zotero, as you did before. You just have to do it on the computer where the files already exist.
  • I think I am missing something here. I would really appreciate if you could provide me with more detailed explanation of the right way to do it.
  • I don't know how I can say this more clearly. You want to copy items between libraries and have the files be transferred. If you do that on a computer where those files don't exist, that's obviously not going to work, because there are no files to copy. So you need to do it on a computer where the files do exist — which, if you don't have Zotero Storage space to upload them, is going to be the computer where you actually added the files. When dragging items between libraries, Zotero won't currently overwrite previously dragged items, so if you dragged before on a computer where the attached files didn't exist, you need to delete the previously dragged items — including their child attachment items with missing attached files — in the target library and then drag again.
  • (Or just add a storage plan and sync the computer where the files exist, and then you'll have the files everywhere without doing anything else.)
  • edited November 27, 2023
    Thanks for the explanation. I exactly had done what you mentioned with the computer having the stored attachments (my old computer) and it did not work. Only the files synced to the cloud are transferred with their attachments and the local ones are not transferred to my personal library.
    I think this is the reason behind the confusion.
  • No, dragging locally has absolutely nothing to do with what's been synced — it's a purely local operation. You either dragged from a computer where the files don't exist or you didn't delete the previously dragged items first and the items aren't actually being copied again.
  • So I tried it again and it did not work.
    The workaround which finally worked was to:
    1. create the new collection and drag everything I want to it from the group library
    2. wait for the sync till it finishes
    3. go to the new computer and close Zotero
    4. delete the local "storage" folder
    5. copy the "storage" folder from the old computer to the new computer
    6. open Zotero on the new computer and double check whether everything is correctly transferred or not

    Thanks a lot for your support

  • edited November 27, 2023
    This is some sort of misunderstanding. I'm simply explaining how to copy items between libraries with files, including if you did it before without the files being present. You can obviously add an item with a file to one library and then drag it to another library and it will copy the item and file. Saying that it doesn't work doesn't make sense. The only difference was that you had previously copied the same items and needed to delete them first in the target library before dragging again. I'm guessing you didn't fully delete the items (e.g., you removed the items from a collection instead of actually moving them to the trash).

    If your question was how to transfer Zotero data to another computer, that's a totally unrelated question, and I would've just linked you to Transferring a Library, which includes the option of just copying the data directory.
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