Global delete of PDF files from Library?

I had previously been downloading free PDFs to my library but now I have a computer with a smaller hard drive and I am trying to free up storage space. Rather than deleting PDFs one by one, is there a way to do this globally? I already have shut off the option to automatically download PDFs.
  • Advanced Search

    Attachment File Type -- is -- PDF

    Create a saved search

    In the saved search, select all (ctrl+a or cmd+a on a Mac), right-click and move to trash.

    This will also remove the PDFs on the Zotero servers, though, so be sure that you want to do that.
  • Thank you. This worked great!
  • Another option would be to change your sync settings for attachments to As Needed, then open your Zotero data folder and search for *.pdf and delete them there. This will keep them in the Zotero server but delete them from your local computer.
  • Hi! I'm trying to understand how to delete the pdfs without deleting the metadata associated with the pdfs. I've just followed all these steps, and after "move to trash", it seems, at first sight, that the metadata has also disappeared (because the saved search folder is now empty). How can I check if it did not disappear? (Fortunately, the files I move to trash remain there for 1 month, so I can still recover the information, I think). Thank you!
  • @ritagracio: Can you explain exactly what you're trying to do? If you're trying to actually delete attachment items in Zotero, you can follow the steps from adamsmith above. The parent items will still exist in the library root, and if you look in the trash you'll see the parent items are shown in gray (meaning they're not actually in the trash, just context rows).
  • Thank you so much for your prompt reply! It's a pity I can't post a print screen. I've done all that bwiernik wrote:

    Attachment File Type -- is -- PDF
    (when we choose this option you can "tick" boxes such as "search subcollections", but I left them all un-ticked)
    Create a saved search, and in that folder I did ctrl+a--> right-click and move to trash.

    And then, the saved search folder went all blank, empty, and then I checked the folder "Trash", and I realized that what I've previously seen in "saved search" folder , was now there.

    @dstillman, as you explained: in Trash the items are in grey, so hopefully it means they are not really deleted, only the pdfs were deleted.

    I was asking if there is a way to double-check if I did not delete the metadata and only the pdf files attached... But from your answer, I guess one has to trust the process of doing it, and there is not a real way to check it? Thank you!
  • Everything you're seeing is normal. The search is for the attachments, not the parent items, so when you move them to the trash, the search no longer matches anything. And I explained exactly how to check — you just look in your library and confirm that the items are still there, or look in the trash and see that only the deleted child items are in black. You don't have to "trust" anything.
  • Thank you very much @dstillman. I was able to follow your first and now second suggestion on how to check if only the pdfs were deleted, and not the metadata, and it worked. Thank you so much for your prompt reply, and for all your help!
  • This is EXACTLY what I was looking for!
    Thank you very much for this tip!
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