Synchronisation between Android tablet and computer

Hello everyone! I'm using an Onxy Boox tablet for academic reading. I can reach my archive through "Zoo for Zotero" or "ZotEZ" easily and they synchronise the information but when I open a PDF on the tablet and make annotations, these two apps cannot synchronise my highlights and notes. I would like to see my annotations from tablet on my computer and vice versa as well.

I tried ZotFile (https://www.zotero.org/support/sync#alternative_syncing_solutions).
I also made a Google Drive connection via ZotFile (I also use Autosync for Google Drive) but it didn't help. What should I do? Is there anyone who can menage to sync their tablet and Zotero on PC?
  • I have exactly the same problem! Did you resolve it?
  • Yes! Are you using an Onyx Boox device as well?
    For me, using Zoo for Zotero with ZotFile's "Send to Tablet" option has resolved it. I think ZotEZ is more problematic. I will copy paste my post from another platform:

    ZotFile plug-in enables sending and getting PDFs with their annotations from different platforms like different computers, tablet, phone etc.

    After installing ZotFile to Zotero, I created a folder in my Drive for ZotFile (it should also be synced by Autosync) and I made it my "source folder for attaching new files" in ZotFile preferences.

    I connected that folder to Zoo for Zotero as well.

    At my computer, I sent my articles to the tablet through "send to tablet" option (under right-click --> manage attachments). Now I can open Zoo for Zotero on my tablet, open a PDF with the PDF reader, make highlights, take notes.

    When I close the PDF on the tablet, Zoo asks permission to upload it. Then I go to Zotero at computer, I click the sync with Zotero button and they sync instantly.

    It looks like so much to do when it's written but after you connect ZotFile and Google Drive with Autosync, there is nothing much left.

    You can look for the details of ZotFile from this page: https://www.zotero.org/support/sync#alternative_syncing_solutions
  • I tried to figure this out today (also using an Onyx Boox). Apparently the issue is the Neo Reader. Once I moved to a different reader -- the developer seems to recommend Xodo -- I was able to use Zoo for Zotero all by itself, with perfect and easy sync. Using zotfile and google drive etc and having to "send to tablet" and "get from tablet" seemed way too involved for me (it also didn't quite work as the tablet somehow kept creating duplicates of the annotated pdfs?). I'm a bit sad that I can't use the Neoreader as it's so smooth, but I prefer knowing that my files will be easily synced and available in my zotero library.
  • Did you check NeoReader's export settings in Settings -> Export settings (including "Export to Storage\note" and "Export to the same directory as the source file"). For mine, the first, storage one, is checked and the second isn't. Maybe that's why mine doesn't produce any duplicates for annotation. Xodo is nice but scribbling and writing is delayed like many other apps, so it's far from ideal I think.

    Also, I didn't need to use "get from tablet", I just click the refresh button at Zotero and it works. But I understand that it might be too much of a workload sometimes.
    I hope you can find the perfect way for you!
  • @aise. thanks for the cue! I was hoping to find a simpler way to make it :(

    @cruwell I tried with Xodo, but the annotation is not staying in the pdf in Zotero... What's wrong with what I'm doing??
  • @aise. Oh, ok! The same thing is ticked for me in NeoReader's export settings. Can I ask where your attachment location is in Zoo? I only seem to be able to choose folders in the downloads folder for this. I am really confused why this solution works for you but doesn't for me -- I tried all the same steps and it only worked if I also used the "get from tablet" option, without ever using Zoo & without the advantages of having a Zotero library on my boox :(
  • @cruwell Of course, my attachment location is custom path, sync method is Zotero Account Sync and "Offer to upload attachment" is on. But I couldn't see the chosen folder, I don't know why. I'm sure that I chose the same folder for I had chosen for ZotFile.

    It is really weird that it didn't work, have you checked the same thing for ZotEZ? I mean that app didn't work for me but it may work for you.

    @sojal2 I know it seems long but it is just four steps and when you complete them, you just use "send to tablet" and refresh.

  • @cruwell Also, are you sure that Autosync for Drive (or Dropbox) works smoothly? You should buy the paid version to sync files larger than 10 MB, if I remember correctly. This might be the problem as well.

    Another thing, it isn't related but I recommend that you turn off "Whiten Apps Background" option at all apps' optimization settings because it makes many options and settings "invisible".
  • @aise. I have also a Boox! About your attachment location, you wrote that you choose custom path. My problem is that no matter which folder I choose it always send me this after going back to my library:

    "Permission error: There was an error accessing your Zotero attachment location. Please reconfigure in settings"

    I look in the permission for Zoo app and it have all access... I'm in a dead end here... So I had to keep the attachment location to external cache.

    In fact, when I open in Zoo my annotated pdf with NeoReader, I see the annotations but not on my Zotero on Mac. It's like a one way because when I had stuff to my Zotero on Mac, the app on boox is fine to see the changes but not in the opposite way....

    Neoreader was set on "Export to the same directory as the source file" and after your message I change it to "Export to Storage\note" and it doesn't change anything
  • @sojal2 I think your problem derives from the error, you checked the correct place for permission, right? It's under Settings (Onyx's general settings) -> Applications -> Application info -> Zoo for Zotero -> Permissions -> click on Storage and give permission.

    You can do the same thing for ZotEZ, maybe that one will work who knows. Also, Google Play should be enabled.

    But I checked my permission settings and I realized the storage was denied for Zoo, I don't know why :/ If allowing doesn't work, maybe you can try to deny it.

    It's very basic and I'm sure you already thought but you can update them if there is any available updates (for Onyx, Zoo, and ZotEZ). Deleting caches and the app might be a solution too.
  • Hi everyone,

    Very glad I found this thead-- I'm considering buying a Boox Air, but only if I can fairly seamlessly sync pdfs across my MacBook and the Boox. From what Aise was saying, it seems like that's totally doable. But I wonder if there's a simpler way to go about doing it than Aise's way:

    1) With Zotfile, use a folder that syncs directly with the cloud, like a Dropbox folder on your computer, to store ALL your PDFs (and have Zotfile automatically move new PDFs to that folder).

    2) Whenever you read PDFs on your computer, save any annotations/highlights directly to the file in the Dropbox folder.

    3) Download the Dropbox app on the Boox, and whenever you make new highlights or annotations, again save the file directly to the Dropbox folder.

    4) Since the file never leaves Dropbox, you'll always have the most updated version whenever you open it on your computer or Boox.


    Would this work? If so, I'm buying a Boox immediately.
  • In terms of a seamless experience across Mac and tablet, I would really strongly recommend an iPad instead. Zotero has an official iPad app currently in beta testing that works well.

    The setup you describe will work currently, but there are several big limitations:
    1. It won’t work with Group libraries
    2. The current Zotero beta has a new note editor and PDF viewer. Annotations made with an external editor cannot currently fully interface with the new note editor (eg, extracting annotations to notes). @dstillman could say more there. Even if Zotero does get the ability to convert external annotations, this would still be much less smooth than using Zotero’s native annotation tools in its own app.
  • Annotations made with an external editor cannot currently fully interface with the new note editor (eg, extracting annotations to notes).
    No, Zotero can extract external annotations into notes as easily as native annotations. The difference is in editing — external annotations are read-only within Zotero, so you can't make changes to them, delete them, add tags (which will be searchable in a future update), or modify page labels (which do get extracted into notes).
  • Thank you for your responses. I see the issue with the new Zotero editor/viewer. And I guess @aise. 's method is not that complicated after all.

    Could any of you tell me if Zoo for Zotero is indeed compatible with the Zotero editor/viewer on Mac?
  • edited June 12, 2021
    @Augatron I have a NotePro and I use Zoo for Zotero. I have also a Mac. And everything running well and smooth! I just didn't find a way to take note (in split mode on Boox) and to transfer them automatically. Perhaps, all the margins notes wrote in Boox sync automatically with Zotero in Mac and the inverse also :) The only thing I had to do is to update the Android system on My NotePro but I think that the new tablet are ok now!
  • edited 17 days ago
    Thanks, @aise for creating this thread. I have experimented with both setups:

    1. Zotero client at the laptop -> Zotfile -> Dropbox -> Boox Note Air
    2. Zotero client at the laptop -> Zotero server -> Zoo at the Book Note Air

    Both can be used by themselves and at the same time if needed... So far, given my workflow (laptop centered) I am liking 1 better, but there are situations when having 2 available is useful. I also have a complex setup, with a Laptop that is mainly used in Linux but can also boot Windows, a desktop, a phone, and the Note Air, so this may be an overkill, but in the end, I would like to work from anywhere. In the end one will like to:

    1. Move documents from your working computer to the Note Air for reading and highlighting and some note-taking.
    2. It should be as automatic as possible (it is not totally true, in both cases one has to be careful and check the different syncs. the different servers do not always sync immediately.
    3. I do not like to have many copies around to avoid conflicts... In my mind, I am working on the document in a given place and when I finish it should be clear we are done. But, sometimes I may forget where is it that I am working it: a quick look and modification in the laptop, while I have the document also in the tablet, can create a conflict that AFAIK needs to be solved by hand.

    In any case, even if using Zoo I set up Dropbox because it will be my main method of transferring files from the Boox from the computers.

    So I follow this tutorial (check all the videos in the series, they are great).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtJ3TRdTffI&list=PLsSI9-gaSSmjVEQ4LhrBD9Ej0dlP2_rLy&index=4

    But I create a directory Dropbox/Boox on my computer. Inside that directory I have several subdirectories since I will use to transfer files back and forth:

    Zotero (for the documents that will participate in the workflow)
    PDFs (Other PDFs)
    EBooks (Even if in the Zotero cloud, neither Zoo nor Zotfile seems to manage EPUB and MOBI formats for transferring them so I need to do this manually)
    Videos (I can record in the Note Air capturing the screen and my voice)
    Class (etc)

    Then I use Autosync to mirror this to my Book folder in the Note. I use the paid version, it is worth it.

    Anything I put in Dropbox/Boox/Zotero will then show up at my Note Air in Book/Zotero. BTW I use the "Folder view" and not the Bookshelves view in the Note Air: See (Bookshelves vs folders) in

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJdwx0rYRB0&list=PLsSI9-gaSSmjVEQ4LhrBD9Ej0dlP2_rLy&index=7

    Any changes created by Neoreader will be eventually copied back to the Dropbox cloud.
    (Things are not as simple since Autosync will not constantly sync to avoid spending the battery etc and in the Laptop Dropbox does not sense immediately when things have changed in the cloud, at least the Linux client. So often times you must manually force the syncs if you know you need to work in the other computer).

    So in my Zotero Client on the laptop, I configure Zotfile to use the "tablet" as Dropbox/Boox/Zotero. I tell it not to use subdirectories and I can "Send to the tablet" and "Get from the tablet". However, there is no way to avoid conflicts, but at least I can see what was sent to de Note Air (the option "Get from the table" is not visible if it was not sent there earlier. If you happen to modify in both places Dropbox notes the conflict and will another copy.... but you do not want to do that...

    When you do the "Get from the tablet" the file will be erased from the Dropbox AND the tablet. Technically liberating the space in the Note. So when I open the tablet the file is no longer there... (However, you can get the file and immediately put it back but that will imply a roundtrip to the Note). I prefer to only have a few documents I am reading and annotating.

    Now, it is a good idea to also have Zoo... It lets me see all my library and solves the problem that I am reading and annotating stuff on the tablet and then I realize I need to consult another document but I do not want to go to the laptop to download it, so I can directly from Zoo get it in the tablet. I changed the Zoo download directory to ALSO Book/Zotero (maybe not a good idea) but since Zoo will always use a subdirectory (some key in Zotero) it is clear that the files from Zoo will be in subdirectories and the ones on the top the Zotfile transfers. An added bonus/problem is that the file will also sync back to Dropbox, probably a waste of bandwidh but now from the laptop, I can see that I am also working on a document using Zoo on the tablet (just by inspecting the Dropbox/Boox/Zotero directory). Maybe the Zotero servers take care of this things but I do not believe it controls how many copies of the file are in the wild for editing.

    When I finish working with the document downloaded with Zoo I can push it to the Zotero web but the copy will stay locally. If I subsequently work on that document in the laptop I will have a conflict. As far as I know, Zoo detects the conflict and you can force it to upload your local file but it has always failed with an error. If you want to eliminate the file from the tablet you must tell Zoo to do that.

    So, you can use both independently but I will stick to one method for most of my work.

    Regarding Neoreader. It works very well and allows to see larger documents well. But you must keep in mind:

    1. Underlining is not the same as Highlighting. Zotero will only extract highlighting.
    2. You must be sure that Neoreader has actually saved the file before you try to return it to Zotero (in either method). Simply exiting by switching to another app does not guarantee it. You must navigate back using the left arrow in the top menu to the left and you will see the message that it is saving the file. (This is only important if you want to upload back to Zoo or Dropbox the file).

    So it is complicated but you have options.

    I like very much the integrated editor in the new version of Zotero. But then you lose the ability to work from different platforms since it saves the notes in another file. Hopefully, they will find a way to, by configuration, be able to merge into the file the annotations in a transparent way (you can do it now but then it is "outside" of the workflow since it saves another copy).








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