Store PDFs in a more "file explorer" friendly way - Folder for Collection, in that folder the PDFs o

Would be great if I was able to access my pdfs in a more easy way over a file explorer.

Actual behaviour: pdfs are stored in Zotero/storage/ and within storage in cryptical folders like "3NNSWMQ5".

Expected behaviour:
All pdfs of one collection sorted in a folder under the collection name, e.g. Zotero/storage/"Collection"/pdfinmycollection.pdf
  • This is a common request, but collections aren't the same as folders — items can exist in multiple collections, so this doesn't work without duplicating files for every collection they're in (or using hard links on macOS/Linux, but that's not realistic). But we're hoping to make it easier to navigate the data directory outside of Zotero in the future.
  • technically the same outward appearance could be gained with windows hard-links to files (not directories, not supported on win AFAICT), but that gets even messier to manage than MacOS/Linux hard links to directories.
  • edited April 4, 2018
    What about to just renaming the cryptical folders the pdfs are saved in to "Author et. al - year - title" or save all pdfs in one folder (Mendeley does that e.g.)
  • If I'd have to venture a guess, risk of duplicates. Or the risk of people correcting the on-disk file/directory name cause Zotero to lose track of the attachment.
  • Yes. Then you end up with name collisions, it’s much harder to find renamed files, the same attachments could potentially point to the same file, etc. These things can be overcome, and as I say we’re planning to do so — making the data directory more human-friendly part of the reason the data directory was moved to the home directory in Zotero 5 — but it will take significant work and isn’t a top priority at the moment.

    The easiest solution here for accessing your files outside of Zotero is just to use a saved search in your OS.
  • Okay I see the problems. Thanks for considering it though in future versions.
    Saved search is also what I came up with. Unfortunately it is not possible to use "saved searches" on iOS devices (e.g. Files app on the iPad), so it works for me only on the Mac.
  • There is no Zotero on iOS, though -- so anything that replicates the file structure on iOS is either against recommended use (e.g. using Dropbox to sync the whole data folder) or some other tool's file structure.
  • @adamsmith Syncing the whole data folder is not recommended, but syncing the storage folder (using a symlink) is fine, right? You can’t have a saved search on iOS but at least you can do a regular search in the Files app or in your cloud app of choice. I read and annotate my files like this often. Now that Papership is all but dead, that’s one of the best options I guess. It’s not something risky, right?
  • yes, that's fine.
  • Hello again, any news on this question?
  • No news, though an iOS app is under development.
  • If you're a Mac user, DEVONthink is a good option for some of this functionality. You can index the storage location and then replicate the files you want to sync to iOS. It is a little bit pricy, but there is a decent education discount and it's more than worth it for the search super powers. The 150 hour trial is also helpful. There is some stuff on my site about it,

    Speaking of iOS, is there a Beta coming up? I'd like to help.
  • @jbpyn Finding this a bit later, but thanks for the suggestion about DEVONthink. I am exploring it and liking what I see so far (it is a bit overwhelming though). Do you know if there is a way to get tags from Zotero to DEVONthink? The indexing works great, but I have a pretty robust tag/note system in Zotero that I would love to hold on to.
  • @jarrodbcall - welcome. DEVONthink is a pretty big application, I find peeling back the layers slowly helps. I have a bunch of stuff to write up, but I can never find the time. If you have any specific questions, feel free to drop me a line (email via the site), or tag me here.

    As for the tags, DEVONthink will honor native macOS Finder tags, but as you have already seen the problem is getting them written to the files. I haven't tried myself, but somebody here is bound to know. I would post a new topic to the forum about how to get Zotero tags written to the finder. I see it has come up before, but I can't find anything on how to make it happen.

    You can import data from Zotero to DEVONthink with an developed by @emilianoeheyns who develops the BetterBibTex plugin, (and is basically a Zotero ninja)

    Here are some links to gthe DEVONthink forums that might also be of interest:

  • No one mentioned wonderful Zotfile plugin here, it solves the problem mentioned by citenote here.

    After renaming to human readable way and moviing the files by Zotfile to dropbox folder, I use "indexed files and folder" to add it to Devonthink and DevonthinkToGo on iOS. This way i have access to files on mobile, and I could could have some nice smart rules and smart groups while files still sitting in the Zotero database.
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