Linking to Zotero items via zotero://select

I would like to be able to link directly to Zotero items from other items' notes and from external HTML pages. Some digging in the forums shows this is a popular request. To summarize what I learned from numerous discussion threads [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] and my own experimentation:

  1. Generating a report for an item opens a page with a URL like zotero://report/items/0_USN95MJC/html/report.html. Here the identifier 0_USN95MJC refers to the item.

  2. An item ID can be used in conjunction with the zotero:// protocol handler in Firefox: for example, if I enter zotero://select/items/0_USN95MJC in the URL bar, the corresponding item will become selected in the Zotero pane. For me, at least, the current behavior has shortcomings:
    • If Zotero is not already open, it will be opened and given focus but no item will be selected.
      If the Zotero pane/tab is already open, it will not receive focus, though the item will be correctly selected; and if the requested item is not already in the active list of items, the current search/filtering will be cleared to reveal it. Annoyingly, the lack of focus means there is no feedback to the user if the select URL is entered while Zotero is open in a background tab.
      If the entered zotero:// URL is invalid, nothing happens.

    • The select links do not work from a (local) HTML page.

    • The select links do not work from notes in Zotero. (When I copy the link from an HTML page to the TinyMCE editor, the href attribute is discarded. Explicitly adding the href back makes the link blue, but clicking it has no effect. cf. this thread)

    • There is no way (that I know of) to select multiple items at once.

    • This does not seem to work for collections.

  3. To avoid having to edit an item URL by hand, this translator can be installed (to the translators directory; requires browser restart) and invoked via "Export Selected Item" or Quick Copy.
Aside from forum discussions, I have not been able to find any documentation of the zotero://select feature. If someone is able to make it more usable, I'd greatly appreciate it.

As has been noted in the discussions, zotero:// links can also refer to individual attachments: selecting "Open in Internal Viewer" for an attachment opens it via a URL like zotero://attachment/1937/.

FWIW, I am using Firefox 13.0.1 and Zotero 3.0.8 on Mac OS X 10.6.8. (I have Zotero Standalone installed as well but rarely use it.)
  • Thank you very much for posting this summary. Has anything happened on this front over the last two years since your post?
  • I'm pretty sure this
    The select links do not work from notes in Zotero.
    has been fixed and should work now.
  • Yes, that is true, the select links do now work from notes in Zotero. I am using them in the standalone Zotero. However besides the desired efect of focusing on the linked reference, they also have the undesired effect of opening an empty window. That is not a big problem as one can simply close that unwanted window.
  • When I drag-drop a zotero://select... item to Word and hit enter, it does not become a clickable link. I have to complete the Hyperlink option in the right-click menu to make this a clickable link. Is this expected behavior?
  • I tried the zotero://select feature and have the same issue as previous post. Here's a link I generated using Zutilo:

    By itself, it's not acting like a link in Word or Outlook. However, if I right-click and go through the Link menu item, it does work correctly. I would like to avoid those extra steps.

    Also, I can get the select link for an attachment and it works like an item. But for an attachment, I would like it to not just stop at selecting but open it. Is that possible?

    Zotero 5.0.81 on Windows 10
  • But for an attachment, I would like it to not just stop at selecting but open it. Is that possible?
  • There is zotero://open-pdf/ ...
  • Oh right, sorry — I forgot that’s a thing we support now.
  • "open-pdf" works! Is there an easy way to create that link? I had to create the "select" link for the PDF using Zutilo and then edited the select part to open-pdf.

  • With Zotero window opened, by entering zotero://select/items/xxxxx into firefox, Zotero does receive the focus, but the selected item doesn't. And "open-pdf" does not work either. I am using linux+xdg-open if that matters. I also tried running Zotero with -ZoteroDebugText, but didn't get any log after entering zotero://select/items.
  • Similar to the problem described by @yongwei_yuan the link simply brings Zotero window in focus without actually selecting the item. select://open-pdf/ doesn't work either.

    I'm using linux & xdg-open to test this.
  • @pmeckoni I logged on to these forums specifically to search for HOW to copy a UUID for items in a library. I take it, this can't be done??

    @Gurdas_Sandhu your comment above got me excited. I downloaded Zutilo but don't see an option for generating something similar to a UUID.

    Use case: I use DEVONthink for everything except bibliographical stuff. My goal was to have a custom metadata field in DT that would be in the form of a URL that, when clicked on, would focus that respective item in Zotero (ideally, by launching Zotero too, if it isn't previously open).

    I suppose I'll accept any ugly method to get to the respective item in Zotero at this point. So frustrating!

    Perhaps this can be automated (I use Mac) w/ Keyboard Maestro and the Zotero "Citation Key"---the only unique identifier for an item in Zotero that I'm presently aware of. (caveat, I am certainly not an expert nor regular user---which might be the problem in my case ; )

  • Zutilo has the option "Copy Zotero item URI" and "Copy select item links" -- you can assign them to a keyboard shortcut and/or the context menu in the Zutilo preferences.

    Both the item URI and the select item links are representation of a unique identifier (the item key -- that one isn't accessible via Zutilo bc it has little practical application*)

    The select item link, i.e. the link starting with zotero://select that several people here are referencing, should do exactly what you need.

    * the item key is not technically a UUID, but for what you want to do, the universal part of UUIDs seems completely irrelevant
This discussion has been closed.