Is there any automatic renaming?

I read in an old post that Zotero should already include some kind of automatic renaming for PDFs attached to libreary elements.
How does it work?
Is it still there or has it been removed in the newest versions?
  • Yes, there's automatic renaming of attachments, but only attachments that are grabbed when saving a page via a translator.

    There's a hidden pref (accessible by typing about:config in the address bar) to control the format, extensions.zotero.attachmentRenameFormatString, with a default setting of "{%c - }{%y - }{%t{50}}".


    • %c is creator

    • %y is year

    • %t is the title

    • The curly braces around each part mean "only include this part if the field specified inside is non-empty"

    • {50} means truncate at 50 characters

    Creator, year and title are the only three fields currently supported, but more could be added easily.

    There's no way currently to rename existing attachments using this method, though that could be added.
  • Thank you for your answer but I still have a problem.
    ScienceDirect has a translator, but if I enable automatic attachment of PDF files, they aren't renamed.
    Is there something else I have to do to make automatic renaming work?
  • OK, I found an old post solving my problem:
    the file is renamed, but not it's reference in zotero.
    Why this? Is there a reason or is it something that will be implemented in the future?
  • I think an argument could be made either way. If you're just browsing your records, it's the parent item that tells you the bibliographic details of what you're looking at, and it may be more useful to have a title on the attachment that describes what the attachment contains ("JSTOR Full Text PDF", "New York Times Snapshot", etc.).
  • Yes, you're right.
    I think this is the reason.
  • Is it also possible to set a different path for the storing of files? I want all pdfs in a single folder so which makes them more accessible when not using zotero
  • I think an argument could be made either way
    Since the argument can be made either way, would it make sense to provide for an option to always have the reference to a PDF mirror its filename?

    I for one would be using that option, and the confusion about the renaming (witnessed in many threads around here) stems at least in part from the fact that many users in fact expect this to be the default behaviour (no doubt reinforced by the suggestive icon, which people normally see in connection with a filename in their OS).
  • I still have a problem,
    Sometime the PDF files are not automatically downloaded. If I grab the pdf link and drop it into zotero item. it is not automatically-renamed.
    Is it possible to auto-rename PDF files of a given item in library based on the info page?
  • It is not, as of currently, but I agree that it would be a nice feature. As soon as you drop a PDF on a record, Zotero would have enough information to autorename it. I figure it could be relatively trivial to extend the current autorename feature to the case of drag/drop from the file system. After all, the same machinery of docking the PDF to the record and copying it to a record subfolder is involved. Could a developer comment on this?
  • The feature as described by mark would be excellent and a great time safer!!
  • I agree with jodler but would also love to see the ability to only link pdfs with drag and drop not copy the file. I think a lot of people want to keep their pdfs in an seperate folder somewhere on their computer and not in the zotero folder. Accordingly, the option to drag and drop pdfs on a zotero item and thereby rename the file in its original location and create a link to the renamed file would be great!! Of course, only as an option (maybe when holding a key during the drag and drop process)!
  • I agree with Greg, it would be nice to have the option to link rather than copy, when dragging and dropping files (pdfs) onto a record.
  • I need pdf attachments to have clear and readable naming as so many others have suggested. Screen scrapers don't seem to have any impact on the name of the file being downloaded, but we're already asking a lot of them. I've looked at this about:config business and haven't noticed any impact (Science Direct, JSTOR, Springerlink)

    Another problem is sending a pdf to another researcher. They need to see the article information in the file name before they open it. Would you like to receive @#$dfndfss3.pdf in your inbox?

    The other issue is portability. I carry a duplicate copy of my pdf library on an external drive and my laptop for viewing anywhere in adobe reader and I am preparing my pdf library for use on an e-paper reader when an 8.5x11 format comes out. I am tired of stacks of papers, and I want to carry my research everywhere I go. Folders of cryptically named pdfs are unacceptable.

    Zotero as a pdf manager on an e-reader would be phenomenal, especially with the upcoming remote library storage possibility (I expect my library to be gigabytes in size).

    How about just a script that renames every pdf in the library by a customizeable string. I use:
    "FirstAuthor_YEAR_Full title minus any disallowed characters.pdf"
    I really don't care for the source of the file to be in the name. It's automatically known by the bibliographic data.

    The linking point is interesting, I'd also like for all of my pdfs to be in one folder, this goes to the portability issue above and raises the question:
    "Should I only use Zotero to access my pdf collection or should I use a file explorer?"

    I guess one of the main differences between me and Dan's point above ["argument either way"] is that I have very little need of the snapshot feature. My goal is to efficiently catalog, search, and view scholarly articles. It's hard to believe how much better Zotero is for this purpose than Endnote already. I'm ditching Endnote ASAP.
  • Hello,

    Is there any news about this? I would appreciate too the above mentioned features, especially:

    -automatic renaming of PDFs when doing a drag and drop -- by the way, as a fresh new user of Zotero, I have not been able so far to automatically download a PDF. As far as I understood, it depends on journals?

    - Storing all PDFS in only one folder.

    Thanks a lot!
  • Catherine,

    no developments on this, as far as I know.

    PDFs (e.g. from JSTOR) can only be downloaded if you or your institution actually has a subscription to the journal you are looking at.
  • I want to add my vote to the calls for:
    1) Auto renaming of pdf files that have been manually attached to references. How about just including an auto rename selection on the context menu?

    2) Pref for attachment title to be same as filename (I think this should be the default; it would reduce confusion). Right now, I can't easily see which of the files attached to my library are well named and which are not, at least not without individually selecting each attachment.
  • I would also like to vote in favor of both of these propositions. It would make a HUGE improvement of usability.
  • I am also interested in this, along with the ability to export PDFs and other files. Count me in as well. I think most of the suggestions here would be great additions.
  • edited October 17, 2008
    I made a script in python to process the sqlite db and rename the physical pdf file as well as update the database.
    It is currently setup in the script to rename each PDF to AuthorLastName - (Year) - Title, but it can be changed upon suggestion. I also have it rename the attachment in zotero to read "Year - Journal Name" so that when you are looking at the item in zotero you get a quick look at everything you need.

    The post is in the forums :

    In the next version, I am looking to move all the physical pdf's (and update their paths in zotero) to a separate directory to find the files easier outside of zotero.

    Let me know if anyone wants a compiled version in case they don't want to install python.

  • Well, I would appreciate a compiled version of that script (I'm on Windows XP).
    My naming convention for PDFs is Author YYYY Title.pdf
    Thanks for your time!
  • Hello,
    First: thanks for the great work! Zotero and the continuing improvements have made my research life much easier! I'm grateful.
    Second, a question: I changed the automatic renaming. However, I'd like zotero to NOT include "et al" in the naming, just the first authors name. How can I do that? Would be thankful.
    Best wishes, s.
  • Another Call For this. Something like Scio's script, built into Zotero and compatible with sync preview would be heaven.
  • Hi,
    I have written a small Zotero Plugin which automatically renames and moves the most recently modified file (pdf, doc, or rtf) in a certain folder using metadata from the currently selected Zotero item and attaches the file to the selected Zotero item (you just have to press a bottom in Zotero). You can change both the source and the destination directory as well as the renaming rule (something like author-year-title).

    You can read a more detailed description and download the plugin from this website:

    see also this post:
  • Hi,

    I've been considering Zotero for a long time and have been checking in for years now. This is the main issue for me at this point--I've already invested a lot of time putting my PDFs in order, and would like to keep them that way. I don't want to have to worry about multiple, illegibly-named pdf libraries, one used by Zotero and one used for other purposes. So I hope that Zotero will find a way to monitor, add to, and work peacefully with an existing document library. Any chance of this happening?

    The other issue, of course, is tagging specific selected text in the PDF....

    Thanks! Please do let us know the possible future for this issue.
    Jon E P
  • As for your other issue, you should ask Adobe about that. There is no way Zotero can access the Adobe Reader/Adobe Acrobat interface and tag text in it.
  • I am not an expert by any means, but there is certainly discussion of this out there. At Endnote, where I raised a similar point (, the development team responded with:

    "These are all things that we are working on. These features will very likely not be included in the very next version of EndNote but hopefully soon. The biggest hurdle is licensing and integrating a robust PDF development kit into EndNote. . . "

    But, this is a bit off topic. Most importantly, surely there must be a way to eliminate the crazy-quilt collection of randomly named file folders which store Zotero's PDFs, so that they can be accessed from the operating system and not just from my internet browser? Folders named ZZ2E11MSX seem a bit user-unfriendly to me.

  • Hi There,
    I work a lot with articles about state of the art technology in robotics and the developments that you can achieve during 1 year are enormous. It makes a huge difference if the paper was published on January 2008 or Dezember 2008. My filenames look like this:

    I tried adding {%m} to the extensions.zotero.attachmentRenameFormatString line in about:config, but it didn't worked.
    Is there a way to add the month in the remane function?

  • trala: Can you post that here? Thanks.
  • Hi,
    How can I add the edition to the automatic renaming?
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