Austin Fox's personal website.

Managing References with Zotero and Google Drive


Using this method allows you to store and sync PDFs to Google drive while managing them in Zotero.

This has several advantages to other reference management systems:

  1. One folder that contains all of your PDF documents
  2. Redundancy of your References - i.e don’t loose them -
    • GDrive stores files - Zotero stores reference database
  3. All reference files with on file naming convention
  4. Ability to create notes in Zotero and the PDFs - also tags in Zotero
  5. Create Bibliographies for any document processor

Install Google Drive Sync (that is if you don’t use it already)

Note: I use GDrive for all of my research data because it gives [^1] me immediate redundancy as it syncs right away.

  1. In your Drive account click the settings wheel wheel in the upper right corner and select “Download Drive”
  2. Install the downloaded program
  3. On the last page of the “Tutorial” click sync options a. Select the folders you want to sync from drive - or just sync all b. Optional: Set up where you want drive to sync - I use “Google_Drive” → more unix friendly
  4. Finish install and let it sync
  5. Create a folder in your “Google Drive” sync folder to store reference files in - I use “REFS”

Install Zotero, zotfile add-on, and set it all up

  1. Download and Install Zotero Standalone
  2. Create a Zotero account - “Register” upper right
  3. Install Zotfile and setup
    1. Download - - right click on download - save link as
    2. Open Zotero - Click “Tools” - “Add-Ons”
    3. Click the wheel wheel in upper right - select “Install Add-on From File”- select Zotfile add-on
    4. Close and reopen Zotero
    5. Under wheel select “Zotfile Preferences…”
    6. In General Settings
      1. Set your “Source Folder” to your Download folder - a uncheck watch (it’s not real useful)
      2. Set “Location of Files” to the GDrive folder you made earlier - for me “_REFS” - Check subfolders??
      3. Under “Advanced Settings” - check the “Remove special characters” (Save headaches)
  4. Set up the rest and get to work
    1. Under wheel select “Preferences…”
    2. Under “Sync”
      • Put in your username and password
      • Uncheck file syncing (GDrive is doing this)
    3. Under “Advanced” - “Files and Folders”
    4. Set the “Base Directory” to the GDrive folder you made earlier - for me “REFS”

Test the setup

  1. Drag an example PDF into Zotero and right click on it
    1. Select “Retrieve Metadata for PDF” - (If PDFs are not OCRed see: PyPDFOCR Tutorial)
    2. Follow instructions to install needed add-ons
  2. Get files into your GDrive folder
    1. Right click on a reference and click “Manage Attachments” - “Rename Attachments”
    2. Now you can delete the original PDF as it has been copied to your GDrive folder
  3. Now you are all set to explore and learn to use Zotero See: Using Zotero Effectively