Why Use Zotero?
Keep all of your research and citations in one place
Format fewer citations by hand
Work with anyone in the world, anytime
No cost even after you leave Harvard
Download & Installation
Installing Zotero is easy, but it's important to note that it happens in two parts: the desktop application and the browser extension. To install both, go to zotero.org/download.
- Download the desktop application installer (on the left), open it, and follow the prompts.
Make sure that Microsoft Word is closed during the Zotero installation. If not, the Zotero Word plugin may not install correctly.
- Install the browser extension (on the right) in your browser.
- Important: You will have to open the download page in each browser you may want to use and install the extension in each browser separately. (The Zotero extension works in Firefox, Chrome, and Edge, as well as in other Chromium-based browsers.)
- Also good to know: In Safari, the browser extension is automatically installed when you install the desktop application. To activate it, go to the Safari preferences > Extensions > toggle the Zotero Connector to on.
To make sure that the installation worked properly, check the following:
- On your computer, do you see the Zotero icon (a red Z) in your start menu (on Windows) or in your Applications folder or Launchpad (on MacOS)? If yes, you're good to go. If not, re-run the installer.
- In your browser, do you see a Zotero icon in the toolbar (either a red Z or grayish/blueish icon that looks like a piece of paper with a box on it; it's usually somewhere close to the URL box.)? If yes, you're good to go. If not, try one of the following:
- In Microsoft Word or Google Docs, do you see a Zotero menu (usually somewhere near the View menu)? If yes, you're good to go. If not, try the following:
- How to troubleshoot issues with the Zotero plug-in for Microsoft Word (on Zotero.org).
- How to troubleshoot issues with the Zotero integration for Google Docs (on Zotero.org; you may need to look at the Zotero Forums to find an answer to your specific issue).
You can start using Zotero out of the box, as is, but here are a few configurations we'd like to recommend:
Create a Zotero account (and sync with the cloud)
A Zotero account allows you to
- sync your local Zotero library on your computer into the cloud, which is great if you need to switch computers or if you work on multiple computers simultaneously;
- collaborate and share libraries with other Zotero users;
- store unlimited files in the cloud, as long as you use your Harvard email to register for the account.
To sign up for a Zotero account, simply go to the registration page, fill out and submit the form, wait for the confirmation email and click on the confirmation link it will contain, and you should be good to go.
Next, set up syncing:
- Open your Zotero app.
- From the menu on the top, navigate to Preferences
- on Windows, in the Edit menu;
- on MacOS, in the Zotero menu;
- on iOS, go to Settings [the cog symbol in the top right corner], then Account.
- Enter your Zotero username and password in the Sync tab.
- Note: If you're concerned about storage space on your hard drive, set the two dropdowns under "file syncing" to "download files as needed."
Finally, we recommend adding an additional email address to your Zotero account as a failsafe, especially once you leave Harvard.
- Go to your account settings on Zotero.org (make sure you're logged in!).
- Enter another email address in the field below your already registered email.
- Wait for the email sent to the newly added address, click on the confirmation link contained in it.
- Refresh the account settings page to double-check that you now have a second email listed.
Other recommended tweaks
- In the General tab, uncheck "Automatically tag items with keywords and subject headings."
This setting will allow you to create and maintain your own tags instead of creating unwanted clutter. [more information on tags]
- In the Cite tab, open the Word Processors tab & check the box next to "Use Classic Add Citation dialog."
This setting allows you to view your Zotero library and collections the same way you see them in the desktop app when you insert citations in Word or Google Docs. [more information on using the Word and Google Docs plugins]
- In the Advanced tab, open the dropdown under "OpenURL," go to "North America," and then select Harvard. In the resolver field, you should now see the following URL:
This setting allows you to search for the full text of a citation using Harvard Library subscription resources. [more information on locating online versions of citations (on Zotero.org)]
- Also in the Advanced tab, change the Zotero language to English if your computer is set to another language.