display collections to which an item belongs

Would it be possible to display the collection(s) to which an item in the library belongs? This would be similar to the feature that displays the tags associated with an item.
  • That is a popular feature, judging by the number of questions.

    The control key method is okay at first but I am finding that I have more and more collections they do not fit in the left hand box. I have to scroll throught them to find the highlit yellow one.

    The ability to display collections or even the first collectio in a central pane column would be cool.

    (As would perhaps a few other columns such as tags, file size, creation date, has pdf or not.)
  • I face the same problem to identify the collections using ctrl key, since the hierarchy structure is bigger than the canvas screen.

    In the same way it is possible to drag and drop an item into the tag panel and the tag automatically appears inside item "tag" tab, it would be similar whether exists a "collection" tab, in which an item dropped into a collection panel (left) would have this collection updated in the mentioned tab (right).
  • If the collections were arranged in the way that cadudesun says, as a sort of collection cluster like the tags, then it would be easy to see which collections an item were a member of too.

    Come to think of it, collections and tags are conceptually pretty similar, just two different organisations of the data (which is nice). Perhaps all the functions of one might be available in the other such as a "collections" tab in the right hand pane so that one could see which collections a item is in, or yellow highlighting of tags in the tag manager pane when one presses a (different, alt) button.
  • I'm bumping up this thread to add my little suggestion.

    Yes, the ctrl/option/alt key is supposed to highlight the collections to which an item belongs, but why not make this automatic by default? Unless it's going to hog a lot of memory or CPU power, automatically highlighting the collections to which a selected item belongs will be very helpful.

    By the way, the ctrl key doesn't work flawlessly in Windows. Sometimes I have to press the ctrl key a few times before the relevant collection highlights. As a result, it's sometimes difficult to tell whether it's because there is no collection the selected item belongs to or it's because I haven't pressed the ctrl key enough when no collection highlights. Also sometimes the highlight in the collection lingers, leading me to believe that a selected item belongs to a different collection than it actually belongs to.
  • Yes, the ctrl/option/alt key is supposed to highlight the collections to which an item belongs, but why not make this automatic by default?
    IIRC this has been requested before and would be nice. However, the visual distinction between the selected collection and the collections to which an item belongs must be clear and intuitive...
    By the way, the ctrl key doesn't work flawlessly in Windows.
    I noticed that too.
  • I would like the collections to which an item belongs to *always* be made displayed, whether by highlighting, or in some other way. Seems a bit odd to me that this isn't a

    Perhaps instead the behaviour might be that by pressing the ALT/CTRL/Command key that the only collections displayed are the ones to which the item belongs (i.e. hide all non-member collections).
  • Although Zotero allows to "see all the collections an item is in" using Crtl (Windows), it gets clumsy and hard to handle when you have thousands of items and distributed through hundreds of collections.

    Please, consider what was said below, regarding collections behave "similar to the feature that displays the tags associated with an item". It would be great to have a tab in Zotero called "collections", in the same way there is the tab "tags".

  • I'd like to add my support in wanting a feature to either automatically highlight collections an item is in, or preferably to have a collection tab, or simply integrate collections with tags, so that they show up in a similar place. But clearly some solution is needed!
  • I definitely agree with what others have said that with a large collection hierarchy that's many times as tall as the screen it's very difficult to see the relevant collections.

    I think an additional problem is that the control/option keystroke is not discoverable in any standard way - it's not in any top-of-window menu or visible when I bring up the context menu. It's also not visible in OS X when I bring up the 'help' menu within Zotero and type 'collections' or 'show collections' or 'list collections'. Having to google to find a shortcut key is VERY non-intuitive!
  • Yes, please!

    A "Collections" tab would be most helpful!!
  • Repeating my comment from another thread:
    What's more, It would be very nice to have a hierarchical collection structure in one of the items tab. And assigning item to collections with checkboxes, something like that:
  • +1 for that feature
  • Well soon 3 years will pass since the problem with displaying item's collections was reported and some user friendly feature was asked/proposed. Any progress? In my case (Ubuntu) ALT key does not function at all and I simply cannot locate any of my items unless I go folder by folder......

    +1 for d.bobak's feature
  • no progress, not going to happen any time soon.
    See the other thread on your problem. Chances are you're missing something, we have multiple users happily using this under Ubuntu for years.
  • I believe this has become slightly less reliable in Firefox on Linux because of the changes to the Firefox menu. The first press of the alt key works as designed, but also un-hides Firefox's menu. The second press just re-hides the Firefox menu and does not highlight Zotero collections.
  • edited March 10, 2015
    I have been happily using Ubuntu for years, but have always wished I could find which collections an item was in.

    It is only now I have found this forum that I have discovered that the feature exists. However, since I have over 1000 papers in over 30 collections under Zotero, the Alt key system in not very satisfactory. As it stands, I have to know which collection the paper is in, otherwise its collection may not appear in the window and be highlighted!

    My vote is for an additional way of displaying the collections similar to that used for tags. That would provide a user friendly intuitive method of finding collections. Moreover it would work seamlessly with Windows, Linux and Macs.
  • I like the way Google Chrome works with its bookmarks. When you search a bookmark you can right click and select 'Show in folder'. Would it be possible to add something like this in Zotero, but then showing the collections? The CTRL key doesn't work for me on my Zotero standalone windows version.
  • edited July 27, 2015
    To everybody who thinks that their ctrl/alt/option key highlight doesn't work: I thought so too for a while, and just realized that I didn't have my collections pane big enough to see the highlighted collection.

    Others have mentioned this limitation already; another option that isn't so limited would be nice.
  • I spent my time and created account just for this comment.

    First of all thank you developers for creating Zotero. I use it extensively to store and catalogue many sorts of online information. Now my zotero directory is 1.4 GB of data. I use it across 3 machines and sync with my personal git server.

    I came here because of an issue alerted in this thread - how to find out to what collection an item belongs? Thanks to tylerh comment I know how the feature works now, after several failures. Thanks to some ordinary user but not documentation. Thanks to some user but not developer(?) who shamelessly claims that "it works".

    1. Programs should be discoverable. This feature is completely obscure. How the hell user should guess that some of about 100 keys must be hold to see item's collections? It is in the documentation right, but it does not work properly if the pane is short. That is usually the case for long collections. People need this feature when their collection is large so manual search doesn't work any more. That is why topic is still hot after 3 years.

    2. Platform independence - software consistency. I use Zotero only on Linux machines. But I bet it should work the same way on other systems. However, in one of them the feature is activated with ALT key, CTRL in the other and WTF key in some else.

    Please fix it. It is a shame to see how biased this part of UI and user experience are. Dear developers, perhaps you can add it where intuition leads - in context (right click) menu of an item? Could you, please?
  • However, in one of them the feature is activated with ALT key, CTRL in the other and WTF key in some else.
    Option (Mac) and Alt (Linux) are the same key, and the Option mirrors similar behavior elsewhere on OS X. On Windows pressing and releasing Alt has a side effect on the menus, so a different key is required there.

    I added automatic scrolling to the first highlighted collection (if one isn't already visible) in the latest 4.0 Beta. This behavior will be included in the next release.
  • Thank you for swift reply. Sorry but your hack (definitely not a solution) smells bad to me.

    On my Debian GNU/Linux with Iceweasel 38.2.1 pressing ALT also shows the browser menu. So IMVHO ALT key in browser should not be used for anything else. These keys like ALT and CTRL are special for a reason. Don't use them if a more standardized way should be used.

    In the approach you describe user will find out just one collection and will not be sure if there are more collections to which an item belongs if list were scrolled down a little. If one tries to find out then care must be taken to scroll the list so that previously highlighted item is not visible (but after scroll it might be automatically shown anyway). If user is lucky then will see that other collection. Am I right? Luck-dependent behaviour, bad idea.

    From the discussion above it is clear that users want to know to which collections an item belongs. They do not ask for bells and whistles like "we wish that after pressing ALT key all collections to which an item belongs should be highlighted and scroll to first one if none is visible". No no no.

    Perhaps highlighting is not completely bad. What about always keeping highlight on all collections to which a selected item belongs? Would it have big impact on performance? I bet not.

    Or perhaps simple list of collections in browser window could be created, triggered from item's context menu. Like it works for creating a report about item? Maybe just add list of item's collections to item report?

    BTW: maybe you don't work much with Linux but when typical Linux user presses ALT key then with left mouse button pressed the window can be moved. Therefore with ALT key pressed I cannot scroll down the collections list and look for other highlighted collections. I must press ALT, see if there are highlighted collection, release ALT, scroll down, press ALT and so on... Sure I can easily change this behaviour but why should user change what works by default and is good, useful, standard part of UI?

    Collections are key feature of Zotero from UX POV. It must be easy to discover what can be done and it must be easy way to do it.

    Sorry for long post. I just appreciate effort that was put in Zotero development and would like to see it shine even brighter. Good luck! :)
  • edited September 24, 2015
    No good deed goes unpunished…

    We'll likely add other ways to show an item's containing collections in the future, but the existing feature is handy for many situations once you know about it, and this was just a quick change to remove one of the main frustrations with it (which you yourself voiced). Sorry to hear you don't find it helpful. I don't have time to work more on this at the moment.
    On my Debian GNU/Linux with Iceweasel 38.2.1 pressing ALT also shows the browser menu.
    That menu wasn't toggleable when this shortcut was chosen many years ago. It's possible Ctrl should now be used on Linux instead — at least, I don't see any side effects with it. Option is definitely correct on OS X, since Apple uses it for the same behavior in Contacts and as well as to toggle many UI states.
    maybe you don't work much with Linux but when typical Linux user presses ALT key then with left mouse button pressed the window can be moved. Therefore with ALT key pressed I cannot scroll down the collections list and look for other highlighted collections
    You can scroll through the collections list with your scroll wheel (or two-finger scroll on a Mac trackpad) to see the other highlighted rows. There's a known issue in which the highlight is cleared if you mouse into the collections view while it's active, but it's not a problem if you start with your cursor in the collections view.
  • OK, thank you for your efforts. I will drag it no more as I know how is it to be a developer :)

    Perhaps a bit longer explanation in documentation would be good enough? Once user will reach documentation ;)

    Thank you for the hint about scroll wheel. I didn't think of that - shame :D
  • edited January 23, 2017
    Note that the Ctrl (Windows) collection highlight doesn't work if you're trying to locate the containing collection of duplicate items or search results. I discovered this whilst trying to hack together a solution using existing features to the following use case:

    1. Import results from (for example) Web of Science (WoS)
    2. Filter into 'relevant' collection (WoS.1), by reading abstracts
    3. Import another results set (WoS.2)
    4. Use case: Remove members of WoS.2 which are members of WoS.1
    5. Go to 2, until done

    I'd love to hear ideas for implementing this!
  • @earcanal: It works in duplicates view — you just need to select a single item. Easiest way to do that is with up and down arrow keys (though normal selection modifier keys also work).

    For search results, I assume you mean the Advanced Search window? I've created an issue for that. It works within the pane, so in the meantime, anything you're doing in the Advanced Search window you can just save as a saved search.

    Beyond that, I'm not sure if there's a better solution at the moment for your workflow question, but start a new thread for that, explain your exact current approach, and we can take it from there.
  • (FWIW, the workflow would have a beautiful soltion if Duplicate was available as a search condition in advanced search. I've long wanted that. Same for Unfiled)
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