proper way to use multiple profiles


Zotero 6.0.26 (and pretty much all versions since 5.x) running on Linux Mint 21.1 vera (or MacOS whatever, for that matter).

I have two profiles that I use with Zotero... Academic, for my research and Technical, for my technical interests. I have about 1200 items in academic, and 700 in technical. I don't want to mix them.

I've been running with this setup for a few years now and other than when I rebuild my working environment and have to figure out how to get Zotero working with the two profiles again, it works great.

After lots of frustrating attempts to figure out the way to make this work, I have given up and I'm asking for help.

What I want to happen:

I want to have two profiles, Academic and Technical.
I want them to reside on my ZFS pool, ark, which is fault tolerant, snapshotted, backed up etc, mounted on /ark.

I want to be able to start Zotero and pick one or the other.

What isn't working... is having,

/ark/Zotero Academic
/ark/Zotero Technical

symlinked to:
~/Zotero Academic
~/Zotero Technical

The symlinked profiles don't appear to be picked up by Zotero and even if I just try to point to the data dir, the symlinks are greyed out, telling me that maybe Zotero doesn't like symlinks :).

What works, but isn't ok, is making copies of the two dirs in ~. Cuz, then I have two copies of each to sync. I want one copy of each and I want them to live on /ark.

Is this possible? If so, thanks for tips, if not, what's the recommended way to do it?

I don't totally understand the relationship between the profiles. It seems like if I point it to an existing directory that already contains a profile that it creates a new one and ignores the existing one (unlike calibre that lets you point to an existing one and just uses it, which would solve this problem and let the profile live anywhere).


  • To be sure, you want the *data folder* on /ark/Zotero Academic, right? Not the actual profile (which wouldn't actually contain much of value beyond your add-ons and preferences)
    How are you installing Zotero?
  • edited June 5, 2023
    Why use symlinks at all? You can just point Zotero to the correct custom data directory location on /ark in each profile.

    (And yes, we can only help with the official Zotero tarball or zotero-deb. If you're using another third-party package that uses sandboxing, this may not work.)
  • I have installed from the official tarball as per the instructions so that won't be an issue in further discussion.

    As for the data directory vs the profile... My understanding is that the data directory only contains pdf attachments and the bibliographic database, but that the profile contains the rest of the settings. I customize the settings and want that to live on /ark, too. The idea being that when I restore my environment and install zotero, all I have to do is configure the two profiles, not do a bunch of reconfiguration.

    I know that I can create a new profile, change all of the settings to my preferences, and point it to a data directory anywhere I want. That's kind of a pain, though as there are a lot of settings to go through.

    In the past, it worked fine because I was hosting it all in the home folder and copying it to a backup location on a regular schedule, but my preference would be to have everything but the zotero app itself living on /ark.

    Hopefully, this is clearer, but it's complicated, so I apologize if I it's not and will try to answer questions as needed :).

  • Well, no sooner did I hit send, then I retried it with the official version and fresh symlinks and it worked. Off to testing to be sure it's golden and if so I'll post back to confirm.
  • OK, but it’s still the data directory that goes in the home folder by default. If you want the profile folders in another location, you’d want to symlink the profiles folder (which contains the individual profile folders) or use the -profile flag to start Zotero pointing to a custom profile location. We haven’t tested symlinking profile folders but whatever works for Firefox would work for Zotero too.
  • I get it!

    I just moved .zotero to /ark and symlinked it into ~. Then I created my two profiles and changed the data directories for those profiles to the /ark/zotero-data-xxx folders and voila! It all works swimmingly with just the symlink in home and the profiles and data directories on the ark. Now, a reinstall of the os and zotero, just requires me to recreate the link and it all just works.

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