Feature request: Default folder for PDF files

Love Zotero and use it everyday (on Kubuntu). I make great use of downloading PDFs associated with articles and having them automatically renamed. However, I find it increasingly inconvenient that I cannot set a default folder to hold all of my PDF files (especially those downloaded and renamed automatically). Of course, I can use show file to open my file manager and thus locate the PDF if I want to find a file (to e-mail to somebody, for example). However, if I am in an application that requires me to browse to a PDF file so that I can attach it, the whole process is very cumbersome. I have to either locate the PDF from Zotero and copy it to a temporary location and delete it later, or locate the folder containing the PDF and then browse to the correct location. I generally do the former because the folders containing PDF files automatically saved have names that are difficult to remember.

Thus, as well as being able to set a custom storage location for a Zotero library, I think we need to be able to set a default location for PDFs (for those of us with large PDF libraries we would also need something to allow us to move all of our PDF files to such a location).

Keep up the fantastic work!

  • One way around this is to use smart folders or saved searches (depending on your OS)--save a search for all files of type PDF in folder (and subfolders of) Zotero. Then you have a dynamically updated folder that contains all your Zotero PDFs in whatever naming convention you set in Zotero.
  • Thank you - this sounds like it is a possibility, although in Linux I don't see an obvious way of doing this. I can save a search as an html file but this is not particularly useful. But thanks anyway.
  • At least with gnome desktop and nautilus file browser, you can create saved searches. From the user interface perspective, they are similar to folders.

    Just do a search and then save it from the file menu. The save -option is not very visible, but it does exist.
  • Many thanks - I use Kubuntu, and in its file manager, Dolphin, and I do not see any obvious way to do this. I've just spent an hour trying to figure it out but to no avail. But thanks anyway - I think this points to the utility of my original request - for a default folder for storing PDFs.
  • One way would be to create a folder and then create hard links to all your PDFs to this folder

    On my mac I do this with the following commmand

    find /Users/mronkko/Documents/Research/Zotero\ Data/storage/ -name *.pdf -exec ln {} . \;

    What this does is that it searches for all files with filename containing .pdf and makes a hard link of these files to the current directory. If you schedule this as a cron job, you will get essentially the same result as with saved search.
  • For what it's worth - I do think this is a very common concern and it is something that Dan has at least hinted at might be addressed in the future.
  • mronkko - A great idea thank you, and I will look into this.

    Adamsmith - thanks for the comment and it is great to know that it is being considered.

    Best, Martin
  • @mronkko

    wouldn't it be easier to set up a "Smart Folder" in OSX? This way you wouldn't need a cron job.
  • +1 on this - would be VERY helpful... a "folder per collection" feature would be even nicer ;)
  • Hi, I wanted to strongly echo this request for new development. I have been using Zotero for 6 months now through Firefox (I am an academic), and I use the file sync system to keep PDFs of my articles. But I also use the backup/sync software called DropBox, because I operate across multiple computers and because it provides free backup. But it only works for the things you put in the DropBox folder. I can't put my Zotero files in there because Zotero has decided where they will be stored, and I can't move them. I guess I don't understand why Zotero won't allow me to set the "path" for where all my PDF files are saved. Right now it is buried deep inside Library/Application Support/Firefox/... and I would like to change the path. Is this possible, or is someone working on developing this?
  • a) you can set the general Zotero data folder in the advance tab of your preferences to any place you want. (If you do this note that it won't automatically move your files and database, you'll have to manually do that).
    b) I'd caution somewhat against using it with dropbox - there have been a whole number of problems caused by the fact that syncing using dropbox can corrupt your zotero database if you have Firefox open on both computers at the time of syncing. So if you decide to do that, don't say you haven't been warned.
    c) putting all pdfs in one folder is possible using a smart folder (or similar features on other OS)
    d) Given a) and c) Dan has mentioned recently that they still have this on the radar, but don't view it as high priority.
  • adamsmith - could you kindly explain the concept of a smart folder and how I could use/set this (I use Linux) to store my PDFs?

    With thanks, Martin
  • With apologies - I see this topic was covered earlier (and I commented!) but I still can't figure out how to use it successfully in Linux.

  • edited June 10, 2010

    create a new folder - let's call it PDFs and place it in your home directory
    go into that directory (I'll assume yusuf is your account name - substitute otherwise):

    cd /home/yusuf/PDFs/

    then run the command that mronkko suggests above

    find /home/yusuf/.mozilla/firefox/[randomstring]/zotero/storage -name *.pdf -exec ln {} . \;

    where the part after "find" is the path to your Zotero storage directory - it looks similar to what I have here if you left it at its default location. You'll see all your pdfs in your new PDFs folder.

    If you want to have your system do this automatically on a regular basis you can use a gui scheduling tool or the "cron" tool to do this - google "cron kubuntu" for instructions and how tos.
  • Is it possible for zotero to create a hardlink for the files that manually attached?
    I use zotero to manage books since it can search for book info by isbn, but some pdfs are quite big, when I add the attachment manually, zotero makes a copy in the database creating unnecessary disk wear.
    Thank you!
  • You can attach links to files instead of attaching files. See right-click -> Add Attachment)

    In that case, the files won't be synced or managed by Zotero (deleting the link does not delete the file on your disk)
  • Just for the record many of your PDF problems are now solved with this add on:


    You can automatically save to a folder of your choice then zotfile will insert a link to the file.

    There is also sensible automatic renaming of the files so that you can for example choose that there are no spaces etc.

    You can also batch rename (including batch moving to your pdf storage folder of choice out of the crazy Zotero folder structure).

    Seems to work well.
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