Home-dir-relative storage of linked files.

For linked files (as opposed to those in Zotero's storage folder), it would be good to have the option of Zotero storing their paths relative to a user-defined home/root. This would make it easier to make the Zotero library portable between machines -- eg. if you like to the same file hierarchy on two differently-laid-out machines, all you have to do is change the configured 'home' directory.

This would fit in with what I see as a *highly* desirable design bias: seeing Zotero as a tool to index and choreograph the use of multiple sources of information, rather than as a monolithic container for everything.


  • Oh, consonant with this, I'd like the auto-saving of PDFs to be configurable also (ie. be able to be put them somewhere other than in Zotero's storage).
  • Yes, please allow relative paths or any other way to make it portable.
  • Yes, it'd be great if the auto-saving could rename the PDF according to a user-defined pattern and then stored in the configured "home" directory
  • CB
    edited March 14, 2008
    I'd like to see something like this even more now, having been bitten by a recent change of main machines (migrating my zotero library over).

    There are 2 practical reasons I don't always want items stored directly in Zotero:

    1. I have a directory hierarchy that I want to keep, and want it navigable by other means in addition to Zotero (file managers, organisers, etc)
    2. There are files that it just doesn't make sense to clutter zotero with (eg. LaTeX intermediates), but I want them physically placed alongside files that I do want zotero to reference (eg. pdfs generated from LaTeX).
    The philosophical reason is also worth reiterating: Zotero should in my view play to its strengths in organising and tagging (more than storing) items from multiple sources, with the local file system being just one of these.

    Relative paths (or some other means of indirection) would all make this more manageable. Does anyone else find this a problem, or have a good way of managing for the time being?
  • A slightly separate but related request: could we have links to directories (again, preferably using relative paths)? The point would be to allow for a means of grouping related files with zotero items, in cases where it just doesn't make sense to store or link to the files directly within zotero.

    Also again -- does anyone else find the issue of integrating zotero items and collections with the rest of their files an issue, or (even better) have a smarter way than mine (which is to muddle along) of dealing with it?
  • Yet another vote for relative directories/links to be included as a priority.

    I could imagine(*) that in the simplest case this could be as simple as
    1 - Zotero home directory is: /path/to/dir/zotero
    2 - Base directory is thus: /path/to/dir
    3 - New file: /path/to/dir/papers/mypaper.pdf
    4 - Relative link to new file is: <BASE>/papers/mypaper.pdf

    I guess this would satisfy most users.

    That way my research could all sit under

    (*) I've not done any thought about this, so forgive me if there is any glaring errors...
  • Another vote for relative paths. I kind of had this cracked by keeping my zotero storage and a copy of the relevant bits of my filesystem on a flash drive, then ensuring that on all pcs I used the drive registered with the same letter. I'm now regularly using a linux machine too, so that's become impossible.
  • edited January 7, 2009
    Offhand, it seems like a soft link leading from a standard path name on each machine to wherever the date is located would be an interim workaround. On Linux it's easy:
    ln -s /the/real/path/to/my/usb/stick /my/zotero/path/stub
    I don't know Windows, but soft links apparently are possible since XP:


    One to try with care, for sure, but it might do the trick. (Oh, wait ... if the drive letter is in the path registered in Zotero, it's going to break things under Linux, isn't it.)
  • I too would like this.
  • Another vote for relative paths. I work both on Linux and Windows machines with all my stuff in an external hard-drive. Thus, it is imposible to work properly with linked files without relative paths.
  • Relative paths are kind of very useful and I also vote for them. Recently, I had to copy my zotero storage directory to new computer and all links to my attachment are now broken.
  • I too vote for relative paths

    Before I found this thread I posted a related idea here http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/6729/best-practices-zotero-folder/#Comment_34824 which I think could make the relative paths even more flexible.
  • Relative paths. I want relative paths :-)
  • edited January 4, 2011
    Me too, just bought a new computer, all links are now broken. Relative paths, please! Just to be sure: There is no "consolidate files" option here, right?
  • Is there any news of whether this is going to happen, and if so, when? (I started a new thread to ask this question, but was re-directed back here. Apologies if that annoyed anyone.) I need to decide very soon whether or not to stick with Zotero (I'm moving to a new machine), and the news that relative paths were coming soon would tip the balance.
  • Hi Dan

    You can count more 12 votes for relative paths, me and all my research team.
    The random folders used by Zotero to store files were totally rejected by our team's members (and I don't know a single user of Zotero among the several we have in our Univ. that like it) and to bypass the "no relative paths issue" we use a little application sqlite that changes the path every time we sync machines (but it is only a bypass and error prone).

  • Please count another vote for relative location storage.

    It is important because I save all the Journal articles in a separate LITERATURE folder. Zotero points to them. Once I move to a new machine, I loose these links, especially when it is once on drive D: and once on drive E:
  • edited February 21, 2010
    Yep, relative paths are good. It would be great if Zotero supported them.
  • +1 for relative paths in file links in item's attachments.

    The problem is that currently the full path is stored in database.
  • And yet one more
  • Another vote for relative paths.

    I use Zotero with Firefox Portable Edition. Both sit on a USB stick so I have access to my library on any computer no matter the OS. Files to which I link in Zotero also reside on the same USB. Nevertheless, the links get broken as the stick receives various mounting points under different systems:-(
  • Same problem here as bntron...

    Given the unanimous demand for relative paths, would it be possible if a zotero developper gave a brief statement whether this will be implemented soon?

    I just started working with zotero, but the lack of this (simple?) feature really reduces the applicability.
  • Re: DZI's request for a statement from the developers on whether relative paths will be implemented. I requested such a statement back in October, and wrote to Dan personally about it, but have not received a reply.

    For me, this is a make-or-break feature (without it, it's virtually impossible to move linked files between computers), and unless it's going to be implemented soon, I'm going to have to find another reference manager (which I'm very reluctant to do, as I really like Zotero).

    Dan: Can you tell us what the situation is, please? Thanks!
  • From the changelog:

    Changes in 1.0.0b3.r1 (January 8, 2007)
    * Imported attachments use relative paths for improved cross-platform compatibility

    I wonder what happened to that?
  • spicedreams: That was about imported attachments relative to (and within) the 'storage' directory. This thread is about linked attachments relative to an arbitrary directory elsewhere in the filesystem.
  • My mistake.

    Anyway, I vote for relative paths (and no drive letter).

    I use Zotero on Windows XP at home, Linux on a laptop and also on a wide range of Windows 7 machines at University. So far I effectively keep and use my PDFs only on the XP at home because the links don't work either on Linux or on the University Windows machines. This is a pain, and I have been thinking whether it's worth going to a competitor like JabRef that doesn't make such a mess of it.
  • One more vote for relative paths support in Zotero!

    Facing the lost link problem third time: 1) when migrating from one OS to another, 2) after complete OS reinstall due hardware failure, and 3) now that I have to use multiple computers with different OSs, etc. Like others, I also prefer not to store my files inside Zotero.
  • edited July 3, 2010
    Another vote for relative paths. I run Windows XP in the office and Windows 7 at home, and 7's "users" versus xp's "documents and settings" file system makes it impossible to even create identical paths across operating systems.
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