Link to Zotero Item from another app

I want to copy and paste a link directly to a specific Zotero item that I can open from another program (e.g. note taking app or task manager).

I've found the plugin Zutilo, which comes close with "Copy Zotero URI", but it opens in the web version. I'd like it to open in the actual software.

I believe I saw some workflow that includes this and uses Zotfile, but involved exporting annotations with such links included and then opening them in a separate editor, but I'm just looking to copy/paste quickly like the "Get Link" feature of Paperpile.

How can I do this?

  • You can use Zutilo's "Copy select item links" function for that.
  • @qqbb You are the best! Thank you!
  • edited June 6, 2021
    @chante77 TY for asking this and @qqbb for answering. I just spent three hours of my Saturday trying to figure this out--banging my head against the wall!

    For others who run amok, after downloading Zutilo, you have to then go into Tools on Zotero's menu bar (in the desktop app) and select "Zutilo Preferences..." (a new item on that list).

    From there, look for "Copy Select Item Links" and (highly recommended) select the radio button for "Zotero Context Menu" beside that item. Optional: I got rid of all but a few items on that list, by assigning them to "hide." The few I kept are now in the Zutilo context menu. ("Copy Select Item Links" is the only item I really want/need, but its a phenomenal add-on---I salute whoever developed it.)

    To be clear; Copy Select Item Links is the **only** operation in Zutilo that will accomplish the task OP asked about. When used in the form of a hyperlink from elsewhere on your hard-drive, it will (a) Launch the Zotero app on your desktop (if it is closed), then (b) highlight the record it's associated with.

    Works like a charm!
  • @ryanwnoyes Out of interest, can you say how you use this functionality? Thanks!
  • edited June 6, 2021
    @bentle sure thing: I use Zotero for reference management; I do not not use it to store or classify the documents on my hard-drive that are PDFs, RTFs and the like. These, I store on DEVONthink (Mac). My overarching application is partly historical research and partly genealogy.

    The problem with genealogical citations is that some of them are screw-ball; unlike the simplicity of Chicago, Harvard, AP, MLA etc., they oftentimes get long, so as to chronicle [like this]( the path from the primary source through discovery (could be four tiers).

    For items that would have an ISBN or OCLC that aren't outliers as described above, I just default to Chicago and enjoy Zotero's fetching ability to get most of what I need. It is ultimately *these* instances would be the answer to your question. If, for some reason, I want or need a formatted citation for one of these items, which again are "physically" (digitally) stored in DEVONthink, I can now just click a link generated by the process this thread is devoted to, to visit that document's instance in Zotero.

    A future enhancement that I may or may not get around to, would be to automate, with Keyboard Maestro, a way to one-click the item in Devonthink, and end up with a formatted citation from Zotero on my clipboard.
  • @ryanwnoyes Thanks very much for the explanation! It makes me think about using OneNote in a similar way (for different reasons).
  • edited June 6, 2021
    @bentle pleasure. If you use a Mac, see also this handy asset:

    Just to clarify what that add-on/extension does (called "Zowie"): it automatically writes the very same "select item" link described in this thread to a catch-all metadata field that can be accessed anywhere on a Mac by right-clicking the file and choosing "Get Info" (command + I). In there, this "select item" link, is in the Comments box. If someone truly lost where a document they found belongs or should be associated with, in Zotero, they could paste that link into Firefox or wherever and instantly see were it came from initially.

    His use-case is something I run into every once in a blue moon--and when it happens, it drives me insane. (I think his solution is an essential must-have (it's free) for Zotero users who (a) use a Mac and (b) store their docs in Zotero itself.
  • Thank you for the kind words about Zowie! I wanted to mention that I recently wrote up some notes about how I use Zotero in conjunction with DEVONthink, with the help of Zowie. They are at
  • Like, how, cant i manage to open up a pdf in Zotero. I have installed Zutilo and selected "Copy selected items links"
    The links I got then is: zotero://select/library/items/LFRJUMLD

    I´ve also seen on some threads here that you have to replace selected by open-pdf like this: zotero://open-pdf/library/items/[itemKey]?page=[page]


    But it still don't work! What am I doing wrong?
  • Are you generating the select item link from the parent item or from the attachment directly? Only the latter works.
  • I´ve tried both though
  • @ryanwnoyes Thanks for spelling this out. Super helpful.

    Zutilio also allows one to set a shortcut for this action.

    Tools --> Zutilo Preferences... --> Shortcuts --> Copy select item links

  • @chante77 You are right. @qqbb has helped me too. He is the best!
    I had some trouble searching for what under the sun Zutilo meant. So here is the link to get the xpi file (which can be used to install an add-on into the Zotero)
    Get the file from here. Go to the Zotero>>Tools>>Add-ons>>click the cog (wheel) icon>>choose the "install add-on from a file" option>>choose the downloaded xpi file>>intall.

    After installing, the option @qqbb has stated needs to be enabled in the Zotilo add on options. To do that Go to Tools>>Zutilo preferences>>check the Zutilo context menu radio button against the "copy the selected item links" option in the list.>>Click ok to save the preferences

    Now select any item in the Zotero library and right click on it>>Zutilo>>copy select item links

    That will copy the in-app link to the item. This link can be used to be inserted in some other app like in Obsidian to open Zotero directly to that file selected.

    This is particularly helpful when you want to refer to the actual Zotero resource file in your obsidian note directly without using any extra plugin. Simple, easy and quick!
  • Hello! I have installed Zutilo and the "Copy select item links" works very well to open the item in Zotero, but the link to open it on the web doesn't work. Any idea why?
  • Zutilo is being discontinued with Release 7. The Actions & Tags plugin will replace the link feature.
  • Sorry to see Zutilo go. Very much understand how Will's work has been undercut by the change in the Mozilla framework. Thank you to all for trying.

    I can happily confirm that using 'Zotero Actions & Tags' plugin does fill the gap and does work with Z7.
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