Move attachments to custom location - subfolder based on collection path

Hi there,

i am currently using zotero with zotfile storing all pdfs/attachments in a custom location entered in the zotfile settings.

Now i want to try to organize that a little more. I found others who wanted this by author or journal - but what i want to try is by collections.
So basically if i got
- My library
- collection literature
- subcollection subliterature
- subollection subsubliterature

Now i would like zotero/zotfile to take over that structure for attachments - so if e.g. a new article is added to subsubliterature - the attachment appears in mylibrary/literature/subliterature/subsubliterature.

In Zotfile there is an option "user subfolders defined by [..]". On the Zotfile website i found "%c collection path". That sounds like what i want - but entering it does not work.

Is something like i want possible with zotero? If so - any hint how to get it working would be awesome -
  • Hey, are you adding the %c on the General Settings tab of ZotFile preferences? It should be entered next to the checkbox labeled "Use subfolder defined by", and you should enter %c there.

    I say this because I was trying to use it in the "Renaming Rules" tab and this didn't work as expected.
  • Mind that attachments can live in multiple collections. Not sure how zotfile deals with that.
  • Testing this feature out now... With the same item in multiple collections, Zotfile will offer a dialogue when renaming the file. The user can only choose one of the collections; Zotfile will put the attachment in a correspondingly named folder and path at the chosen custom storage location.

    I would wish for a way that Zotfile could keep the file (or aliases of the file, if Mac) in ALL the respective folders on the storage device.
  • @ZenonMarko: I would recommend using stored files, not linked files. Given the Zotero Collections Model, creating aliases on your file system would no longer be necessary. See also the discussion here. Of course, it's a big change coming from a large library organized in folders on your file system. But if you plan to heavily use Zotero, maintaining both your folder structure and Zotero's collections doesn't seem like a good approach.

    To get started, Emiliano's new plugin for importing folders might be useful:
    See here for the related discussion:

    If you decide to import folders that way, you might want to think about how to deal with your aliases in this process.
  • edited April 19, 2020
    qqbb, thank you for this. Yes, I am realizing more and more the advantages of using Zotero's collections and database.

    I am still attached to the idea of finding the files in the hierarchy in the (Mac) Finder as well, though, to be able to look something up, check an article or book, update my outlines or notes on such, etc., without even launching Zotero. Maybe I have to get over that preference.

    Part of my reluctance is based on fear that Zotero might disappear some day, or support ends, although presumably there are ways to export everything therefrom, but then I'd have to rebuild the hierarchy of hundreds of folders. (That's happened to me before in another field of work, where a proprietary database system, as well as a file format, was no longer supported and I had to re-organize years of work).

    Nevertheless, I expect I will now attempt the move to one of the following methods:
    1. Zotero's internal database
    2. Zotfile with external location, where Zotfile updates and manages the folder hierarchy based on the collection hierarchy (via the %c wildcard). (This would still allow me the aforementioned old-school access method, outside of Zotero).

    Is it quite simple to move from one of these 2 methods to the other (via a batch application of Zotfile's Re-name command, perhaps), if I change my mind?
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