Edit same field for multiple items


Is there any way to select multiple items and edit a particular field for all of the selected items?

I've just added a butch of papers from a conference, which I like to store in collections. I got all the papers as PDFs on a USB. I then import them into Zotero. However, when I use "Retrieve meta data from PDF" then it doesn't retrieve all the fields that should be there. If I go to the database website (dl.acm.com) where the paper is located, and press the "save to zotero"-button, then it gets all the necessary and correct information. I therefore need to bulk edit 50ish items' proceedings field with "Proceedings of the The 15th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children". Could do it one by one, but seems like a waste of time.

I know of tagging music files, that software such as MP3Tag allows you edit the same field/tag for multiple items at the same time.
  • Planned but not currently possible at least not in a reasonably easy way (there's technically this: https://www.zotero.org/support/dev/client_coding/javascript_api#batch_editing but without prior Javascript experience, this will take you _much_ longer than 50 copy&paste operations.)
  • Thanks Adamsmith for your fast reply.

    OK, so I guess the best is simply to delete the PDF attachments from the library items.

    It would also seem to be preferable to go to the actual literature database, rather than using google scholar to save a reference in Zotero. Google Scholar seems to miss data, like the proceedings field. This doesn't have to do with Zotero (I think), but would you say that it is a correct assumption?
  • Yes, the original publisher almost always gets you better metadata than Google Scholar.
  • Is there by any chance a projected date for editing multiple items? This is a useful feature especially when adding the same tag to many items; changing a faulty Item Type on multiple records; or adding the same note to multiple items.
  • I don't think there's a reasonable timeline. From what Dan has said, it's ballparked for the 5.2 release, but that may be any time from this fall to significantly(!) later. I'd be very surprised if it happened any earlier, given the UX/GUI issues involved in getting this right.
  • edited April 21, 2017
    Note that for the first point--adding the same tag to multiple items--The Zutilo plugin can help you with that already.
  • Bulk edit would be extremely useful...
  • I would like to agree.
  • Please!
    For loads of things, not least:
    Authors initials with and without a 'dot'
    Missing fields
  • edited July 4, 2019
    I support that wish.
    There are so many things I would do.
    e.g. the language-to consolidate, Englisch, English, en, engl. to english would be great


    Edit: I just checked out the JavaScript you provide. It is so super easy - nothing that needs knowledge.
    Thank you for this workaround
  • At least for tags there is a way for a easy bulk edit.
    Just go to the Tag Selector (View -> Layout -> Tag Selector) and Right-Click the tag you want to edit and choose "Rename Tag...".

    I also agree: to bulk edit item fields without scipt would be a nice feature in Zotero.
  • Note that the Zutilo add-on now provides functions for batch editing of items:


    With Zutilo, a great number of mass editing tasks can be accomplished in a relatively simple manner. For some functions you need to use a text editor for editing the JSON data that are copied to the clipboard.

    The relevant functions are: "Copy item fields", "Paste into empty item fields", "Paste non-empty item fields", "Paste all items fields". They are explained in the documentation:


    Use cases are discussed here:


    Currently, changing the item type of many items at once seems not supported.
  • Yes, please please please....

    I think I moaned about this years ago, and it astonishes me that it still has not been added. I love zotero, but.... having just added a special issue of a journal, where the metadata does not pick up title of journal, year of publication, and now having to go in and do it all manually.... grrrr.
  • Zutilo looks very promising!! :-)
  • Wow, thanks qqbb for linking Zutilo. I hadn't come across it yet, and have been looking for an easy way to bulk edit items, specifically the 'language' field, for a while now. Really hoping the feature will be added to Zotero soon, as it's been almost three years since adamsmith mentioned above it could be in 5.2. Does one of you know whether that's still the planning? Because 5.2 might not be too far away now.
  • My understanding on the priority for major features is still the same: 1) Update item types & fields
    2) Bulk operations
    (This is not counting the iOS app, which is developed separately)
    But no promises on any ETA there -- could well still take a good amount of time.
  • Wow adamsmith, you're fast! Thanks for the reply, I see. That makes sense. Hold on though - there's an iOS app in development? That is great news, I was not aware of that. That happens to be the other thing that would be of great help to me, as I'm trying to use iOS devices more than Windows devices on the go. We'll, I'm looking forward to it! And I'll have some patience, then.
  • btw, adamsmith, would you recommend using the 'PaperShip' App for iOS (in case you have any experience with it)? I just came across it and it seems pretty good, although the Zotero website says it's not great for large libraries (which is definitely my field of work).
  • I don't use iOS, so can't say myself. It's almost entirely abandoned by its developers, so I would stay away from any in-app purchases (because you likely won't get support if it breaks/doesn't work), but I know a number of people are using it happily.
  • Thank you for Zutilo suggestion that’s very helpful!!
  • I used to use Papership but it stopped working for me some time ago. I use Zutilo (which is great), but the other trick of exporting items into the .RIS format and then using a simple Search/Replace to edit the fields and then re-import the references works great, if your references aren't already attached to a working document: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIS_(file_format). I don't know if they would break any references in a working doc, but if so, you can always merge the references (although this is a bit painful).
  • I don't know if they would break any references in a working doc
    Yes, it would, and we don't recommend this for this reason. You also may lose or mangle some data round-tripping to RIS.
  • Bulk edit would be extremely useful [2]
  • Thanks dstillman - I thought it would, and so am glad I merged on the assumption that this would be the case! The round-tripping to RIS is definitely a workaround, but I do find it useful when I've just imported from a database that doesn't have the fields mapped correctly.
  • I'm thoroughly surprised this isn't a feature. Would be nice for instance when loading multiple lecture slides from the same event to be able to just ctrl + select items, add parent items, type in date, place, type, and set to presentation.
  • Bulk / Batch Editing Implementation Model Suggestion for Zotero

    I'm aware that the much-awaited bulk / batch edit feature has been in the works for some years now. (Ticket #364)

    In the meantime, I would request the developers to take a look at the bulk editing implementation in TagScanner, a nifty tag editing tool for music files.

    Basically it works by allowing the user to lock a field's value and then save the same value across selections, effectively updating that/those field(s) for all the selected records.

    Given Zotero's design, I think this model of bulk editing would not only work particularly well with Zotero but will also keep things quite user-friendly.

    As a long-time user of Zotero, I eagerly look forward to the implementation of the bulk / batch editing feature! Thank you!

  • ***Doing the bulk edit dance***

    Kicking in another voice for the bulk edits. I've been watching this thread since adopting Zotero for myself in 2019. The lack of bulk editing is the primary feature that keeps me from upgrading my storage or trying to implement Zotero company-wide. It's much too frustrating when adding more than a few documents at a time.

    That said, I'm taking another look at Zutilo. I previously thought its usefulness was limited because it only had "copy ALL item fields" and "paste ALL item fields". I just learned today that you could edit the JSON text in a notepad to include only the fields you want. Nice trick; will hugely speed up my workflows.

    ***Still doing the bulk edit dance***
  • +10000

    for example:

    i have a ton of items i would like to delete what's in the URL field because it's superfulous

    i also have a ton of items i would like to move what's in the URL field to "link-to-URI" attachments that i could use for my reference but won't go into bibliographies
  • +1 for bulk editing same field for multiple items!
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