How to copy the tags of one item to another item?

For example, I have 4-8 tags on one article, and I wish to apply these tags to another article (or several others). These function is desired when I saved an article on a certain topic some weeks ago and find some updates on the same topic, wishing to group them into a "thread" via using the same tags.

I know that I can drag the items to a tag so as to apply this tag. But when it comes to more than 8 tags, I found this approach a bit laboring. Is there a simpler way to just copy the tags of one item to others?
  • There is not, and it would be an interesting feature. A not-so-great workaround would be to duplicate the original item.
  • +1
    copy/paste of tags would be the easiest solution. Also, mass dragging items to tag selector is cumbersome.
  • Why can't the tag-field not just be an open text field, with pre-defined tag separation (like comma, or slash or enter) and auto-parsing of these entries into tags (see how endnote solves this)?
  • That would presumably solve this problem and some others (like being able to apply a lot of tags in one go). Neat idea.
  • Has a way of copying tags from one item to another been developed in the two years since these messages were posted? I would like to be able to just click a "copy tags" button in one item and then a "paste tags" button in another item and have all of the tags from the first pasted into the second in one fell swoop.

    As far as connecting a new item to a previous item, you can use the "related" tab, but that doesn't copy tags.
  • edited July 16, 2012

    Having this feature would also be of great help for myself.

    Currently I am often saving a number of articles in one item that I have tagged in order to avoid having to apply tags to several items. This, though, has the disadvantage, that I loose information that I would otherwise have if I would have saved the articles separately.

    SUGGESTION 1: Not familiar with the flexibility of programming the GUI, but one option might be to allow dragging the "Tags" tab of the item that holds the tags that you want to apply to another item to the other item (as listed in the middle column).

    SUGGESTION 2: An alternative solution that would be beneficiary in many other regards, too, would be a hierarchical tag structure. E.g. if you have the tag "Queens XYZ Throne Jubilee" and hierarchically below that the tags "2012" and "Windsors", then the mechanism would automatically apply the two latter tags if the first tag was applied to an item. (A more exact way of thinking about this would be in Venn diagram logic, where "Queens Jubilee" would be a subset of "2012" and "Windsors".) This will help with the above problem as I once have to put together such an association and then can apply this thought adding one tag to each item that is part of that topic.

    P.S.: As noted by others in other forum threads, tagging is very slow at times (taking several seconds for a tag to be accepted). I am running Zotero 3.0.8 in Firefox 13.0.3 and OS Windows XP and have a couple of hundred tags and 10.000+ items in my DB.
  • You can duplicate items. Tags will be duplicated along with the item. So there is definitely no need to have multiple articles "in one item" (I assume that means having multiple files attached to one item).
  • Dear Mark,

    thank you for the reply. I can confirm that you understood me correctly. I am aware of the copy option, but it is sub-optimal: If I find data (e.g. an article or paper) on a topic that I have already covered by an existing item in the Zotero database, then I want a new item for the new data including date of retrieval, source and (if available) other meta data. The only part of the previous item I want are the tags. What actually would be misleading when copying the old item (as you suggest) would be that I would have the meta data of the previous item with the data of the new item.

    So a solution along the lines of my above suggestions (with a preference to the latter) would be the way forward in my view.

    Concerning the issue of hierarchical tags I am happy to discuss in depth and work with someone conceptually.
  • I think an option to copy tags between items would make sense. I can't speak to the ease of implementing it, but would be surprised if it were terribly hard.

    Hierarchical tags have been requested elsewhere and would be a lot of work to implement - and there are, of course, already hierarchical collections which are conceptually the same as tags - so I don't see that happening any time soon unless someone wants to work on the actually coding of this.

    As for speed - I can't say anything about the performance issues per se, but note that in the next major release of Zotero you will be able to input tags (and authors) by newline-separated lists, so if you have a lot of tags for one item you could type a list in notepad and import it in one operation.
  • I can't vouch for it, but the same person who wrote the patch to allow newline-separated tags also wrote a plugin to allow this:

    Since it relies on the patch, though, it won't work on a release build of Zotero until the next major version.
  • NEWLINE-SEPARATED TAGS [@adamsmith & @Dan]: Thanks for pointing the upcoming newline-separated tags option out. This will work well when one enters a set of items at once and wants to apply the same tags to all of them. A situation occurring regularly, though, is that following an issue I have a new item a couple of days later. At that time I do not have all tags as one text to paste in available and I can neither mark all tags from the previous item and copy them.

    TAGGING PERFORMANCE [@adamsmith]: At times tagging takes very long for me, not always but most of the time. Next time it happens I will send a debut ID as requested by Dan at

    VENN TAGGING [@adamsmith]: Thanks for your reply and pointing to the already existent option of hierarchical collections. As I specified in my previous posting what I think would be of use for a greater number of people would be a Venn-diagram-style tagging concept - and this is different from what exists in the collections. Let me explain what I mean, as this might raise interest and lead to a possible implementation:

    As it is temporally costly to apply all tags that match to an item it would be good if by applying a specific tag (Tag 1) also less specific tags (Tag 2, etc.) could be automatically added. This would allow the item to be found not only when looking for Tag 1 but also when looking for Tag 2, etc. What is needed for this is:
    (1) The possibility to link tags, e.g. link from "fire truck" to "red" and to "truck".
    (2) An implementation of a non-hierarchical but Venn logic. This is needed as, following the above example, "firetruck" is at the intersection of "red" and "truck" and there are elements that are not at the intersection of the two but at one of the complements, i.e. "red car" is in "red" but not in "truck", etc.

    To implement this the following would be required:
    (1) an interface would be needed where tags can be organized
    (2) a data structure encoding the relationships and
    (3) a mechanism that once a new tag is added automatically applies other tags according to what is encoded in the database.

    I very much understand that this would be a major effort, but think that as a medium-to-long-term project this still might be feasible.
  • There is a much simpler solution: use the fantastic Zutilo Plugin that can manage this for you. See:

    If you miss shortcuts: Read the doumentation at github here:

    I was waiting for some time to write my own tool. But this is ready!


  • To acsr: Does Zutilo work with the standalone version of zotero? I have stopped using Firefox and started using Chrome. Or does Zutilo exist as a plugin for Chrome?


  • Yes, Zutilo works with Standalone.
    "Once you have the zutilo.xpi file, go to Tools->Add-ons in either Firefox or Zotero Standalone. Click on the gear button in the upper right area of the Add-ons Manager window that appears and choose "Install Add-on From File." Then select the .xpi file."
  • Thanks. I've installed it and it works great! Too bad it doesn't also include an annotation tool, which is no longer available in zotero. I've started using Scrible, which does have an annotation tool, but it would be nice if one were restored in zotero.

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