Changing Linked Attachment Base Directory isn't working

This discussion was created from comments split from: can I move my linked attachments folder?.
  • edited July 4, 2022
    I changed the Linked Attachment Base Directory and... nothing. Zotero is still using the normal Data Directory Location to find attachments, and it is still adding attachments there when new entries are added.
  • edited July 4, 2022
    Because that setting has no effect on existing stored files and no effect on where Zotero stores files. Zotero only saves stored files unless you manually add a linked file.
  • edited July 4, 2022
    @russmcb: I've already split this off and responded to you here. You should respond here rather than trying to start a new thread for the same issue. But you should first read my response and the documentation I linked to, including the Linked Attachment Base Directory documentation linked from there. What you're trying to do (copying from 'storage' to an external folder, and then changing the LABD setting) isn't remotely how this works. You would need to use ZotFile to convert stored files to linked files.
  • Thanks @dstillman. I used ZotFile successfully, have all my PDFs in Dropbox, and new entries are getting their respective PDFs stored in the DropBox folder, so all is well. I still don't understand why, before I used zotfile, new PDFs added were getting stored in the old "storage" location instead of the location specified by LABD. If LABD doesn't specify where old or new PDFs get stored, I don't understand what it does. But since things are working now I can live with my ignorance of LABD I suppose. :-)

    Onto figuring out how to establish a collaborative workflow without the ability to create or sync a group library now... but that's a completely different topic....
  • The purpose of the setting is explained pretty explicitly in the documentation I linked to.
  • edited July 10, 2022
    Well, on my reading of it (and many other people's reading of it), if you change the LABD, then new entries with attached files should store the attached file in the new LABD location. That does not happen so I am apparently not capable of understanding what otherwise seems like the simple purpose of LABD.

    I do very much appreciate the replies, though. Thanks!
  • I mean, then you're just literally not reading it? It could not be clearer about this:
    Note that this setting does not control where files are stored — only whether linked files within the specified folder are referenced by absolute or relative paths. If you're using the ZotFile plugin to help with a linked-file workflow, you should configure it to store linked files within the base directory you've configured.
    You certainly don't have to read the documentation, but then don't say you're reading the documentation.
  • Maybe it just needs a different name or UI. Everyone is expecting is a setting where you can choose the *location* of where your linked attachments are stored. This is not it. You can add this feature which everyone expects LABD to be and/or you can describe it to be something like: "Attachments stored on different computers will use this same path...".

    Maybe have a toggle for "Relative Path" and "Absolute Path".

    Even then, I would *still* expect this setting to control where the attached file are stored. It's just profoundly counterintuitive to have an absolute vs. relative path setting that doesn't *also* control the location of the files. What *exactly* is it doing with the path if it's not storing the linked attachments there?

    Feel free to ignore me. I suspect the confusion for new users about this will continue endlessly though...
  • What *exactly* is it doing with the path if it's not storing the linked attachments there?
    You can read the documentation or not, but I'm not spending more time on this, sorry.
  • I'll just add that this setting is in a secondary tab of the Advanced pane of the preferences for a reason. We document what it does quite clearly, and include a shorter explanation in the preference pane itself, but if you don't understand what it does, that's really OK — that's why it's in Advanced. We added this setting in response to repeated demands over many years from people using linked files on different computers, and it does exactly what those people were asking for it to do.

    Stored files provide a seamless, reliable, configuration-free experience across multiple devices and the web library, so that's what Zotero always creates unless you manually link an existing file from a particular location, which is why this setting has nothing whatsoever to do with where new files are placed. That's not going to change. If you want to use a plugin that enables a more complicated (and error-prone) file workflow, with complex settings for building folder hierarchies and filenames named using parent item metadata variables and what-not, go for it. But that's not what Zotero itself does, and it's not what this setting does, and we've absolutely never implied that it does. It's an advanced setting for advanced workflows and is there for the people who want it.
  • O.k., thanks for taking the time for the additional explanation.
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