Adding PDFs + RIS files via IOS-beta

edited February 27, 2022
As a new grad student, have been using Zotero app-beta on my iPad for a few months. With the "Add to Zotero" bookmarklet and stable-URLs or DOIs, I am able to add hyperlinks but not actual articles. Am I doing it wrong?

Relatedly, can't figure out if RIS files can be added to my "to-read" collection via the app. [Should this be a separate thread? I'm new here.] Databases (eg, ProQuest) offer ris downloads, and my university library's entries have an "export ris/zotero" button, but Zotero reads that as either a plaintext metadata note or, for ProQuest, as a file that opens in neither Zotero nor a PDF reader (title, eg: "ProQuestDocuments-2022-02-27.ris", item type: "attachment").

I do have access to a Windows laptop when needed, but would like to keep most of my workflow on the iPad. I have researched this extensively on YouTube and these forums but can't find ipad-specific RIS info. Thanks for guidance.
  • edited February 27, 2022
    I am adding pdfs and articles through sharesheet, then I am using desktop to get the metadata for pdfs

    Did you try to use the menu "File" > "Import" and choose the RIS file? this work on desktop and only when you don't have pdf opened and you have a view of your library
    I think that the Ipad app doesn't have yet RIS import
  • edited February 27, 2022
    Sharesheet (had to look that term up!) doesn't seem to help for databases that I am accessing via a web browser - for ex., a JSTOR article that I am reading online. BUT at your suggestion, I tested it from PDF Expert, and that works fine; a PDF I'd annotated was saved to zotero with my margin markings. (No idea what happens to metadata, but for your workaround.)

    As for RIS files, I expect File>Import works only for desktop; I see nothing similar in IOS app. You're maybe right that this just isn't supported in the IOS-beta.

    Thank you so much.
  • Replying to my own question to share an answer I've kind of stumbled on - how to use the bookmarklet and sharesheet to add PDFs, and not just links, of articles I save from JSTOR and other sites on the iPad. (Thanks to @danielborek for the sharesheet idea.) It's a multi-step process. I'll describe it for JSTOR, but would presumably be similar for ProQuest and other article sources.

    (1) In Add to Zotero bookmarklet, enter stable link or DOI to create entry (link + metadata).
    (2) Return to article page and open the DOWNLOAD version.
    (3) SHARE the downloaded article: Open the "sharesheet" pulldown list. I don't believe you can share directly to Zotero. My workaround is to share to "print"; with 2-finger gesture, expand the print preview. This becomes a saveable PDF.
    (4) Again, SHARE the new doc, this time to Zotero.
    (5) Open Zotero. Your doc's filename will be just the browser (eg, safari.pdf). DRAG this onto the file you created using the bookmarklet.

    They should combine automatically. This is a beautiful feature.
  • edited February 28, 2022
    There seems to be some major confusion here.

    If you're using the iOS app, you save to Zotero using the share sheet in the browser. It should work almost exactly like the "Save to Zotero" button in the Zotero Connector on the desktop, with the exception that the iOS app doesn't retrieve metadata, so you'll need to do that back on the desktop, as @danielborek says.

    If you really mean the bookmarklet, that's not something you should be using if you have the iOS app (or in general, really — bookmarklets barely work on the modern web for technical reasons, and it hasn't been updated in many years).

    You can't currently import RIS in the iOS app, but that's not something you should be using anyway in the vast majority of situations. Zotero handles saving for you, both on the desktop and on iOS. You would only export to RIS to get around site access limits when saving a large number of items or when trying to save from some obscure, unsupported site (which certainly doesn't include JSTOR or ProQuest).

    If saving from the share sheet isn't working for you somewhere, we'd want an example URL that doesn't work.
  • edited February 28, 2022
    But also, the iPad app currently really isn't intended to be a replacement for the Zotero desktop app. It's useful as a companion app for saving, basic organization, and reading/annotating PDFs, but there's a huge amount of functionality that's not yet available in it — e.g., PDF metadata retrieval, word processor integration, and, yes, RIS/BibTeX/etc. import.
  • I'm actually sure what "Add to Zotero bookmarklet" even refers to here. What you're describing doesn't sound like the old saving bookmarklet. In any case, you should save to the app via the share sheet.
  • Thanks for the input. Sorry for the confusion - this is why I only lurk on forums, never posting, and am regretting it already. I'm hugely appreciative of all the thought and collaboration that goes into this program and hope to get better at it as I go. If I should (if I can?) delete this whole thread to avoid confusion, happy to. Meanwhile, I had never even heard of a "citation manager" before August 2021, so yeah, I am getting it wrong. I will experiment henceforth with the share-sheet.

    The rest, below, is just background (and why I didn't mean "bookmarklet").

    So... Apologies for misusing "bookmarklet." I meant the "add to zotero" button I created on my tablet home screen, linked to Added it when I started using the beta-app in summer 2021: "For now, unless you're comfortable running beta software, we recommend saving using the Zotero Connector for Firefox, Chrome, or Edge, Add Item by Identifier within Zotero itself, or" Last summer, there were also instrux for creating the linked button.

    All that was on this Zotero Documentation page ( last summer, which comes up in searches for "IOS." Looks like it's been updated.
  • edited February 28, 2022
    please don't only lurk.

    It is common here for those asking for help to themselves be asked to asked to rephrase the question using different words. You used jargon that suggested you had knowledge of and experience with Zotero. Are you also using the Zotero program that resides on your desktop or notebook computer?

    You received a reply with questions from the lead Zotero developer who is, without question, among the most patient, kind, competent and eager-to-please developers in the industry.

    Being new to citation management software isn't unusual. I have a 10-minute interval in seminars for graduate students where I demonstrate Zotero by downloading citations from online databases and metadata with a PDF from publisher websites. I then demonstrate how to write a report/manuscript with LibreOffice using Zotero to cite. Half or two-thirds of these graduate students are amazed that such software exists. They had been writing their undergraduate reports using MS Word's built-in reference handler and gathering their citations using the Google Scholar "download cite" tool.

    edit: I present in a similar seminar for freshmen but it isn't mandated, many don't attend, and of those who do many don't pay attention because they think they already know everything about writing reports.
  • Thanks - I didn't mean to sound thin-skinned! Just don't like to waste people's time. I'm strictly admiring and grateful, and not put out, by feedback from @dstillman and others. And props to you for digitally orienting your students! To that end, I am trying to form some kind of tech user group in my own master's program, located (!) at Zotero's birthplace, George Mason U. (home to the Roy Rosenzweig Ctr). Speaking of the RR Ctr, I'm itching to tinker with Tropy. So, yeah, I do get out over my skis a bit sometimes.

    In the meantime, lurkers gonna lurk. I may still read more than I post. ;-) Cheers.
  • edited February 28, 2022
    All that was on this Zotero Documentation page ( last summer, which comes up in searches for "IOS." Looks like it's been updated.
    No, that has nothing to do with iOS and never has. That page is entirely about the Zotero Connector for Safari on macOS, which is currently only distributed with the beta version of the Zotero desktop app due to a macOS bug.

    When using the iOS app, you should always save via the share sheet. That's been available since the beta app was introduced last March. (You might've been using the save page before getting access to the beta iOS app, though.)
  • Got it. Mind blown. Many thanks.
  • @dstillman,

    I'm newly back to trying out Zotero as my reference manager (did so years ago before the iOS app but wasn't as efficient for me as EndNote with its iOS app). I like the Zotero iOS app-- it is well designed and maybe now more efficient for me then to use the EndNote iOS app. I understand how to save and import individual articles with Zotero as was discussed in this post; however, I still don't quite understand how to adequately import all the results of a search that I do in PubMed (for example) into Zotero on iOS. Do I need to open go to each of the results of my search (e.g. 70 hits) and "share" each result with the Zotero iOS app to import that result with its formatted citation in my Zotero library? I understand that Zotero iOS app does not yet import a .nbib file containing the results of such a search and add all of those results to my Zotero library but is there some other way to add all of the results en bloc? The EndNote iOS app imports all the results of my PubMed searches, and if Zotero iOS app is not yet able to do so right now at once, I think I'll stick with EndNote as my reference manager for now.

    I appreciate any suggestions you might have.

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