Organising locally stored PDFs

Hi everyone, it's my first time posting so apologies if something is wrong. I tried to find other discussions on this issue but came up empty.

I've recently moved from Mendeley Desktop to Zotero, and am trying to organise my pdfs, both the directly downloaded into Zotero and the linked files. From what I could gather, to have options similar to Mendeley, I needed ZotFile, which I installed.

I've come across two problems:
1. Once I try to select a folder in the ZotFile options nothing happens. Literally. Not even a Windows explorer window popping up for me to choose a folder.

2. Forgoing add ons, locally stored files are still a mess. Is there a way to store the files Zotero grabs locally in one folder, rather than a folder per file as it seems to be doing automatically?

I'm using Zotero 5.0.97-beta.44+fa4020f78 and ZotFile 5.0.16 on a Windows 10 computer.

Thanks in advance!
  • ZotFile's code to open a file dialog likely needs to be updated for the current Zotero beta, similar to this change.
    Forgoing add ons, locally stored files are still a mess.
    I mean, they're not a mess — they're stored quite stably in a folder that Zotero manages for you, which you're not meant to browse through manually. This system avoids all sorts of problems with files getting accidentally unlinked (which are a constant complaint about Mendeley on Twitter).

    We recommend using stored files, letting Zotero manage the files for you, and accessing them primarily through Zotero, which has much more flexible search and organization features than the filesystem. You can drag files right from Zotero to copy them somewhere or even, depending on your mail client, into an email. (If that doesn't work for you, you can just right-click → Show File and do the same.)

    If you want to access the files from outside Zotero, you can either use your OS's global search or set up a virtual folder to just show you a flat list of all PDFs within the Zotero 'storage' folder.
  • Thank you for your reply!

    Yes, I found other discussion topics in the meantime that mentioned dragging the files to copy them, and that works just fine. But without ZotFile, and without a pdf reader on the Zotero web library, storing my files locally means annotating them on a tablet would require a manual reupload of the files into Zotero, correct?

    That is why I wanted more direct access to the files.
  • Why is the web library relevant?

    On an iPad, you would use the new iOS app, currently in beta. The new PDF reader in the Zotero beta syncs annotations with that as long as you're using stored files.

    If you're using an Android tablet, you can look into the available third-party apps that sync files with the desktop app.

    (ZotFile's "Send to Tablet" feature does let you do this when not using a Zotero-specific app, while still letting Zotero manage files for you. But to configure that, you'd probably need to temporarily switch back to the production version of Zotero. You'll get a startup error about the database being incompatible, but you might still be able to configure ZotFile before switching back to the beta. In any case, we recommend using a dedicated Zotero app if possible.)
  • Thanks again for your reply!

    I mentioned the web library because there are only third-party apps available for Android.

    I will give those a try for now.

    Thanks again!
  • @dstillman, does any of the android apps let me:
    - see the annotations that I have made in the desktop zotero beta PDF reader?
    - change these annotations from my tablet, or add new ones, and afterwards see them also in my desktop zotero beta PDF reader?

    I was also waiting for the web library to offer this functionality, but if you say it already exists in a dedicated app, that would be great!
  • In the latest beta, we've temporarily restored support for the old file dialog code so that ZotFile and other plugins that haven't yet been updated will continue to work.
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