The default for "attachmentRenameFormatString" is '{%c - }{%y - }{%t{50}}' (from <>;)

Q: Can I change {%c - } so that an article with 3 authors isn't automatically truncated to "<first author> et al."?
Q: Are there fields beside creator, year, and title? If so, how can I use them?

This post:


says that creator, author, and title are the only fields. But the post is over a year old and I figure it's worth checking.
  • edited July 16, 2009
    Q: Can I change {%c - } so that an article with 3 authors isn't automatically truncated to " et al."?
    Not currently. For now it's identical to the Creator field in the middle pane.
    Q: Are there fields beside creator, year, and title?
    No, but specific suggestions would be welcome.
  • For my purposes those fields suffice. I just wish I could get rid of the "et al." in the "Creator" field and use ALL (or at least 3) of the authors' names .
  • It would be great to be able to add journal name (or abbreviation) as well as volume and page number.

    In addition to using zotero I also keep my pdfs in an external folder for other people. If I can rename automatically including this information it would make it quite quick for others to find particular articles.
  • 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 rename function?

  • I would also love to get rid of et al--one of the things I love about the zotfile plugin's renaming function is that one can turn off the et al and just have "creator year title" file names. Dan, what are the chances that Zotfile's renaming code can be added into the mothership?
  • Another recently converted zotero fan here!

    Here's my suggestion:

    I organize my pdf files like this: Journal Abbr-Year-Volume-First Page
    It's not ambiguous and is suitable for sharing and finding duplicates.

    It would be great to be able to rename files in zotero using these fields.
    Any plans of adding them?

  • I was just wondering whether there has been any changes still planned to extend the fields available for renaming pdfs? I have tried the zotfile plugin but unfortunately it doesn't allow page numbers to be included. This means I am still doing them by hand to keep them in a completely unambiguous format (pretty much the same as filipa suggested) but this is rather time consuming.

    Does anyone have any other workarounds that would speed things up?

  • edited October 6, 2010
    I appreciate the sensible naming of PDF files. However, I often do not remember a paper by its first author (typically a name I'm not familiar with), but rather by its last author (typically the director of the lab) and sometimes in combination with the Journal name. It would be good if Zotero had an option to name files with the names of all authors (when fewer than some number N) or perhaps with the names of the first and last authors. Also, it would be good to include a field for the Journal.

    Perhaps the attachmentRenameFormatString could include options like:
    {A} for all authors
    {An} where n is some integer for the first n authors
    {A\n} where n is some integer for the last n authors (I just made up the special character "\" -- not sure if that's kosher).
    {an} where n is some integer for the nth author
    {c} for the "creator" field as it currently stands.
    {J} for the journal name
    {j} for the abbreviated journal name (which I think is a standardized field)

    This way, I could ask for "{a1 } {A\n}" to get the first and last author.

    In other academic areas, someone might want the first few authors (who did most of the work) and the last few authors (in whose labs the work was done)? They could ask for {A2 }{A\2}.

    Someone else might want all the authors, as long as there are not too many. They might ask for {A{50}}.

    Finally, giving the {J} and {j} options would allow us to include the journal name in the filename.


    Thanks very much for your consideration.
  • At some point, you're not going to be able push all this info into the title. If Zotero could save metadata into the PDFs (which has been discussed in the past), then a smart file manager (recent versions of Windows and Mac OS at least) could display such information even if it is not in the title.

    If you're just looking for good ways to find PDF files without opening up the Zotero interface, you may want to look into the Gnotero application (, which will let you open and copy PDF attachments without opening Firefox/Zotero. It searches authors and titles to locate matching Zotero items and PDFs much faster than a search from within Zotero.
  • I agree, what I suggested does seem complicated at first blush, but for what's it's worth, I use that naming convention ({all authors} {year} {journal} - {title}) when saving my own PDFs and the filenames are totally manageable (again, for papers in my field -- this wouldn't work for papers in particle physics!). Also, music ripping software has long dealt with this issue. Programs like the popular foobar2000 let you custom-name ripped MP3 files with {artist} {album} {track number} {song title}, and many users take advantage of this.

    Indeed, the big motivation for custom file naming is so that I can find my PDFs without Zotero+Firefox or some other custom product. Currently, I do this for my own PDFs by typing a few author names into my OS search box and find the papers very easily. I rarely enter the first author (sorry guys!), since I usually remember the senior author's name. A custom filename would allow users to find their PDFs by whatever means they're accustomed.

    A related, common complaint about Zotero is the opaque folder structure it uses to save PDFs. Many people have rightly pointed out that one can sidestep this by saving a "smart search" through their OS that includes all PDFs in the Zotero data folder. This is a great idea, but only as good as the file naming of the individual PDFs, since one still has to navigate the "smart search" output to find his file of interest. Again, allowing richer custom filenames would allow users to employ their own, existing strategies for finding files.

    In the end, I think the PDF-saving issues of Zotero would be addressed by two features:
    1. Custom, rich file naming so one can easily search his/her PDF collection without Zotero or additional software.
    2. Drag-and-drop PDF linking so one can easily import his/her non-Zotero PDF collection while maintaining existing filenames and folder structure, and avoiding duplication of PDFs.
  • Just to be clear - there _is_ custom naming of pdf-files, pretty much like foobar. It's just currently somewhat limited.
    I think what most people want is some way to get away from et-al. That should be doable, especially as there is a character limited on titles anyway. Dan has also said that they are willing to add new fields to this.

    Since Zotero never calls the last authors I think those aspects dealing with last or nth authors are very unlikely to happen.

    That all said, remember that a lot of what Zotero does is driven by grant requirements - which appear to tend strongly towards broader sharing of data and files in addition to the everywhere project.
    So I wouldn't expect this to be anywhere _close_ to the top of the dev's to do list atm.
    On the upside, at least the naming part should not be too hard to code - so if someone cares enough to get this done the easiest way is probably to write a patch and submit it to the dev list or to trac.
  • I wonder if there are any recent developments on the customization of automatic pdf renaming?

    I'm using the rule: 'Journal Abbr-Year-Volume-First Page', and still renaming the downloaded pdfs manually...

  • nothing new, no. You could look into Zofile, though:
    which does have journal abbr as an option
  • I would love more flexibility with this feature, akin to that of Zotfile:

    - more fields for the rename string
    - ability to have different rename strings for different item types
    - batch renaming option
  • Also, per our discussion in the other thread about allowable characters in file names, but relevant here to the "et al" discussions:

    The "Creator" column in Zotero includes "et al.", with the period, for multi-author works. This phrase carries over into the file naming, which then results in a potentially problematic period "." in the file name. Periods should be avoided in file names, no, as they are usually the separator for the file type extension, no?

    So the file name of multiple authors becomes:

    Parmenides et al. - All 4 One and One 4 All.pdf

    Is there a way to de-periodize the preference for the "et al" case?
  • edited April 16, 2020
    Periods should be avoided in file names, no, as they are usually the separator for the file type extension, no?
    No. Maybe on Windows in the 90s. Periods are totally fine.

    Zotero automatically strips all characters that aren't valid on all modern OSes.
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