Zotero 3 beta

September 8, 2011 at 4:24 am 4 comments

| Gabriel |

For about three years I’ve only been using Firefox for Zotero and lately I usually don’t even bother to do this but just hand copy Bibtex citations from Google Scholar into my “.bib” file. As such, I was very happy to see that Zotero 3 is now in beta. This version lets you run a stand-alone Zotero app (in Mac, Windows, or Linux) which can accept content from Safari and/or Chrome. Since I actually use both Safari and Chrome this is a great improvement since I can just click the Zotero button rather than having to copy the URL, launch Firefox, paste the URL, and then click the Zotero button.

The Zotero app doesn’t need to be running for you to scrape citations. Your browser writes the citation to the cloud and the next time you launch the dedicated Zotero client it syncs with the cloud copy. This requires making sure that both the client and the browser plug-in have the account and password but once you’ve done that it’s pretty painless.

I’ve noticed a few issues with the beta. One is that the standalone app is kind of a RAM hog, taking up about 110 megs of RAM on my mac. (In contrast, Bibdesk takes 50 megs to load the same database). The second is that it has some trouble scraping Worldcat but apparently this is already fixed in the pending update. The third is that it seems to work better with Chrome than Safari, but again this should be resolved in new versions.

Now I just have to find 2007’s phone number so I can call it and let it know that it can have Firefox back.

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Cranks Project Gutenberg and the early internet


  • 1. Michael Bishop  |  September 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I used Zotero for a while, but more recently I’ve been using http://www.mendeley.com/ which has the advantage that it has a stand alone app which indexes pdfs (among other file types).

    You can use a bookmarklet to import things on the web.

    I’m sure there are still some advantages to Zotero… I haven’t become a power-user of either of them.

  • 2. Dan Hirschman  |  September 8, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Dear Gabriel,

    Thank you so much for this post. I finally made the switch to Chrome after a year of hesitation about abandoning Zotero. So far, the difference in performance has been tremendous.

  • 3. Chad  |  September 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    From what I can tell, Zotero’s Firefox integration is still superior to the functionality offered in the Chrome or Safari extensions, but they’re all quite usable now, and sure to improve over time. I, too, look forward to jettisoning Firefox from my workflow.

    Now that Zotero no longer requires Firefox, my biggest complaint is the way it organizes files in that series of randomly named subfolders within the Zotero folder. I just started using the Zotfile extension to address this. Definitely worth checking out if you use Zotero for PDF management, and would like a customizable organization scheme:


    Between Zotero Everywhere, Zotfile, and Dropbox, I’ve finally got a nice citation/article management system that works with my computer and iPad. Living the dream! (Maybe I should dream a bit bigger…)

  • 4. adam.smith  |  September 12, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Chad – have you seen that Zotfile’s developer also has an extension to facilitate working with an ipad or any other tablet/e-reader: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/zotfile-reader/

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