Mark as Read

Can there be a column in the bibliography list which can be checked/unchecked to mark the entry as read or unread. This is similar to the flag/unflag in email clients (e.g., Outlook).

I tried to search if such feature request have been made but couldn't find.

  • The answer "use tags" keeps showing up, but there are many comments on this, because this would be REALLY useful, and tags are simply not good enough. The ability to quickly sort by read/unread (sort, not search, so you can still see all items) is extremely useful in Mendeley, and users (including myself) want it in Zotero too. Would be great if it was considered for future versions.
  • edited March 14, 2021
    @yulipetrus: Are you looking for something you only toggle manually, or do you expect it to change from unread to read if you open the PDF? For any amount of time? What about items with no PDF?

    I'm open to this, but people have different workflows, and unread/read is both hard to define and binary in a way that may not make sense for everyone.
  • I personally would rather change it manually, because it is not the same opening a document to double-check it is the right one to fully reading it. What is most important for me is to have a category on the table for it to sort, same as date, author etc. If there was a category for tags (possibility to add a table column category for a certain tag that showed 1/0 for all papers), that would also work for me, as I am currently using a "not read" tag to mark any new items, and removing it once read.
  • I also second this request. It's possible to use tags for this, yes, but they are not ideal.

    I personally would prefer if the toggle were manual, precisely because different people might have different definitions of when a paper is read or not.

    Maybe it could be a checkmark next to the item (similar to a to-do list), where one would click it when a paper has been read and it would show a tick. Or a colored dot like the one used for attachments, where it's filled when an item is marked read, and remains unfilled while it's not
  • edited March 21, 2021
    I also support this request.

    As stated by others, tags could be used, but it made things a bit messy for me - I stopped using tags a long time ago.

    I would really like to be able to sort my list based on 'read' and have this visible in the list. The ability to glance at a list and know its status is invaluable.

    I think the idea of having a coloured dot like the attachments would work really well. A single field with checkboxes or radial dials that link to a coloured dot (that is then visible in a column linked to this field) would be the perfect solution for me, and likely others. For example, orange for "read", green for "read and notes taken" would be amazing. This would really complement the new PDF reader.
  • Not taking a position on whether there should be a separate read feature, but to be clear:
    The ability to glance at a list and know its status is invaluable.

    I think the idea of having a coloured dot like the attachments would work really well.
    This really seems to described colored tags -- are you aware of those?
  • @adamsmith

    Out of context, yes it does. However, the element you quoted is not the only way that the proposed feature would work. Like others, I would like the ability to sort by this feature.

    I have used tags, but they didn't work for me. I found them to be quite messy.

    - The coloured tag is placed between the item type icon and the title in the title field. This makes this field messy, aesthetically I really don't like coloured tags for this reason.
    - Given where the coloured tags display, it gets even messier quite quickly when using coloured tags for other things. The title field gets quite busy.
    - If there was an ability to have a coloured tag display in a tags column, then this would be a good workaround. I haven't been able to get the tags to display in a column.
    - I cannot sort my list by coloured tags, I can only select the tags to view the items with this tag
    - Even if a dedicated column for coloured tags were possible, then this column would show other coloured tags and this could again get a bit messy.
    - Users can only have 9 coloured tags, so if they choose to use tags for this, they are then losing coloured tags for other options.

  • Also commenting on this, since a quick forum search shows that this has been a Feature Request since 2012 at least, and it's frankly baffling to me that it hasn't been implemented - it's such a common feature!

    Yes, I'm aware that tags and collection folders can be used as a workaround, and @sicahjes has already listed many of the downsides. I would like to add that for heavy tag users, there are further downsides to prioritising a few of our colour tags as status indicators:

    1) I use lots of tags for contents/fields/concepts because nested tags are not a feature. I NEED those colour tags at the top and status tags would get in the way.

    2) ideally I would be able to see the item's read status at a glance, instead of visually wading through my tags pane

    3) it makes the tag pane messy and confusing
    4) it prevents the tags being purposed as their own subsystem for content labels

    5) The title field is frustrating enough as is, with the item type icons and tags all shoved to the left, and book sections not nesting under their book. I can't be alone in looking for the title text first, and having to visually 'ignore' the tag squares is deeply frustrating. It's why I greatly prefer the Mac system of having tags on the right.

    As others have proposed, a separate 'Status' column with indicators or checkboxes, similar to the attachments column, would be the best and most straightforward option. That said, even if the Zotero team decides against this:

    What about creating a separate kind of tag, say 'Status Tags' or 'Process Tags'?
    - e.g. 'unread', 'read', 'read and annotated', 'needs review' etc. or letting users define their own status tags.
    - These could be circles instead of squares, to distinguish them from the regular tags.
    - Status tags could be displayed in their own tag pane, or within the tag pane but visually defined by a pill-shape or something around them.
    - If the tags could get their own column, this would still enable users to easily tell their Status Indicators and regular tags apart.
  • I also support such a request. It's quite surprising that such a "checkbox" feature (even if it is not for the purpose of read/not read) that is somewhat customisable has not already been implemented, and would be a great help.
  • I've been using coloured tags almost exclusively as status/process indicators ever since they were introduced; I find them pretty adequate for this purpose. It might be nice to be able to sort by them, though.
  • What would be ideal from my perspective would be a flag system very similar to what Outlook has. So, we could flag papers or attachments to be read/used/processed and then check them off when they are read/used/processed. Having this as a column would work very well. I currently use tags for this, but it is not ideal. I would rather use tags for enduring indicators with a separate system for short-term processes.
  • I also use coloured tags for this purpose, but this is not their intended purpose and it would really be a simple feature to implement.
  • Quick flags like "read" or "important" are certainly an intended feature of colored tags, not sure why you think it wouldn't be. That's why they have keyboard shortcuts.
    The nice thing about colored tags is their flexibility: you can use them for read/unread, important, to read, to do, and any number of other things that people have requested over the years. You can even vary their usage between different groups/libraries where you may have different needs.

    Zotero devs might decide to add a read/unread function, but adding a completely new UI feature with a completely new data attribute is not "a simple feature" and feature/UI bloat is a real consideration. I, for example, would prefer not to have additional UI elements that I have no interest in clutter my interface (and adding a show/hide preference has its own UX costs).
  • Except as has been pointed out it would essentially be another column that one could sort by---thus it's not that much of a new feature. I agree that adding a totally new UI thing would be non-ideal, but to add a column I think would be reasonable.
  • I second this request. I come from Endnote where the first column is a tiny column where a dot represents "unread" (or marked for reading) and empty means read. I used that all the time. When unread, the text in that row is bold. Marking read, the dot disappears and it becomes normal text. It definitely is handier than tags. I came here specifically because I miss this feature.
  • I made a simple extension providing a new column where you can mark items as To Read or Read. You can set the status of an item by right clicking it.

    Let me know if this helps / is missing anything you might need.
  • Great feature, thank you! I'd like to have shortcuts to mark the articles (cf. Thunderbird's tag feature)
  • @dominic-d This is terrific. Just what I was looking for. Hotkeys would be nice, but as it it this will be immensely helpful.
  • I just added Alt+1 to Alt+5 to set the read status for items. Using the number keys themselves is already used for Zotero tags.
  • I would really appreciate a feature that would automatically mark items as new/unread and then automatically mark them as read when I reach the last page.
  • Dominic, you are a legend, thank you. It's mind-boggling to me that this isn't a native feature. Drastically improved my workflow.
  • I've been using this extension a lot. Is it compatible with the Zotero 7 beta?
  • @dominic-d Legendary. I owe you one!
  • @diminic-d Awesome addon, still works flawlessly! Thank you!
  • @dominic-d a very grateful PhD student here - thank you a lot!
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