Zotero and google drive setup: do I really need Zotfile?

So I'm finally resecting the malignant tumor that is Mendeley and trying to set up Zotero.

I read that one needs the Zotfile plugin to link a google drive folder. But I see an option under Zotero preferences for files and folders to be linked to any location I like. So my question is...why do I need zotfile?

Essentially, what I'm trying to do is import my existing google drive 'Research' folder, with all the PDFs, into Zotero and have it import the citation details, ready for use in a word document.

Thanks for the help!
  • If you want to sync your PDFs using Google Drive, it is easiest to use Zotfile, yes. You should NOT use the setting you see in Zotero preferences. That will place your entire Zotero database in Google Drive, which will lead to database corruption.

    Instead, set up Zotfile to move just the attachment files (not your entire database) to Google Drive. See here for details: http://zotero.org/support/sync#alternative_syncing_solutions
  • Out of interest, why not export/import your database from Mendeley to Zotero?
  • To clarify, there are two settings in the preferences: Linked Attachment Base Directory and Data Directory. It’s the data directory that absolutely shouldn’t be set to Google Drive.

    If you’re having ZotFile move files to a given folder as linked file attachments, you do want to set the Linked Attachment Base Directory to that same folder so that file paths are stored relative to that folder, which will let you easily move it later or have that folder at a different location on another computer. But that setting doesn’t move files for you.
  • I see...thanks for the clarification everyone.

    "Out of interest, why not export/import your database from Mendeley to Zotero?"

    I read that because Mendeley encrypted their files, this is no longer possible...is that no longer the case?
  • You can install the old version of Mendely 1.18 and import from there. See https://www.zotero.org/support/kb/mendeley_import for details.
  • https://www.zotero.org/support/kb/mendeley_import has the details -- it's still possible, just more elaborate.
  • Thanks for all these helpful comments.

    So I already have all my pdfs stored on a google drive. If I understand this correctly, if I were to drag-and-drop from the google drive into Zotero, those PDFs would be copied in another folder on google drive (specified in the Zotfile preferences).

    Is there any way to import the existing articles (and folder structure) into Zotero, without this re-copying happening?
  • I recently made a video how to import your Mendeley database into Zotero. Very easy to do actually.
  • I found a solution for my specific circumstance so I'll leave it here in case anyone else has similar needs.

    I already have all my pdfs stored on google drive in a folder structure that makes sense to me. I use a pdf editor on my ipad (pdfviewer) which allows me to use my apple pencil to make annotations directly to the pdf stored on google drive.

    I re-created the folder structure in Zotero and for each sub-collection I used the "Link to file..." option under the add (green plus sign) menu. I can then do a multi-select or select-all and it imports all the pdfs and finds the metadata for all. No copies were made in the Zotero storage folder and I'm now viewing and editing a single file across all applications and devices.

    Hope it helps someone else...
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