Guidance on using multiple accounts on the one computer

edited February 15, 2022
I need to use two Zotero accounts on the same computer (my project plus some RA work).

I've read through related forum posts and saw advice for someone to use different Windows profiles. I am assuming that this would also work with a Mac as well? I only ask this as I noticed that whilst I had x2 different user profiles, the second user still detected the Zotero download from my profile (I created a second user profile after reading the advice and assumed I'd have to download another instance of Zotero).

As someone who has never done this before (I don't know what I don't know), I wanted to reach out and see if there are any key things I need to be mindful of, or is it enough to have the seperate user profiles on the computer.

Before I login to the RA account, I want to make sure I'm not missing a key piece of information. My fear is that I will accidentally lose data in one of the profiles.

  • Why not just use a group library for the RA work? Managing multiple accounts is much more complicated.

    If you really want to use two separate accounts, you can simply use multiple Zotero profiles rather than two separate user accounts.
  • I'm helping to set up the Zotero account etc., plus I can't use linked attachments with a group library.

    I'm a bit nervous using the terminal, as it is not something I generally do/am comfortable with. I saw the below comment on the page you linked:

    "This is an advanced configuration and not recommended for most users, but if you're familiar with using multiple profiles in Firefox, Zotero works the same way and supports the same command-line flags."

    This is why I was searching the forum to find a solution. I don't use Firefox. I'm trying to figure out what the issues/dangers with using different user accounts may be.
  • edited February 15, 2022
    This is not about you using Firefox, but Firefox is mentioned here is because Zotero uses the same basis for it's code.

    The -p tag used will open a profile switcher that let's you choose between profiles when starting up Zotero. Try it. You can't break too much here.

    To visualise this for you and remove the fear, watch this video. It'll look very much similar to Zotero: (around the 4min mark he's using the command in Terminal)
  • edited February 15, 2022
    Thank you, this was really helpful. I managed to do it, although I did hit a couple of stumbling blocks:

    1. As I don't use command lines all that much, I initially interpreted the statement "You can open a specific profile from the command line with the -p flag (e.g., -p Work" to mean just typing "-p Work" into the terminal (once setup), which of course didn't work. I eventually realised this was meant to be added to the original command line, which was useful for creating a shortcut via Automator.

    2. This one is unresolved, but minor. In the video, it shows how to create an 'application" that point directly to the extra file. In the dock, the custom name is visible. I cannot get this to work the same. I have no problems creating the automation, but when it is opens it just says 'Zotero' not 'Zotero (Work)'. This could be because of the OS I'm using (I had to roll back to Catalina 10.15.7 to use Target Display), I'm not sure. I won't be using the profiles at the same time, and reviewing the content should make it easy enough to double check which profile is open, but the name visibility would be a 'nice to have'.

    Thanks for your help. I was worried that the comment "not recommended for most users" meant it should only be used by those with more skills in this area than I possess. This is a great workaround that means I don't need to switch between profiles.

    Edit: sorry for the edits, I can't get markdown to work (was trying to format it for an easier read).
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