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Zotero at University of Waterloo: Install Zotero

This guide will help you use the free online citation and research management tool Zotero to organize citations from Library catalogs and databases.

Getting started

Zotero is a free, open-source software.

The University of Waterloo has subscribed to Institutional Storage for Zotero. 

To create a new Zotero account and gain access to the Institutional storage, watch the video or read the PDF below.

If you have created your account with a different e-mail address, you can associate your UWaterloo address with the Zotero account to access the institutional storage. 

It is also suggested that you integrate your Zotero account with the OMNI (Uwaterloo Library catalogue) by following the instructions in the video and PDF provided below.  This will assist you in obtaining PDFs.

What is Zotero and why would I use it?

Zotero is a tool that collects, manages, and cites the sources you find during your research. In addition to saving a citation, you can add notes and images in your Zotero library and in many cases automatically download PDFs.

You can use Zotero to...

  • Create and organize a personal database of references
  • Import references automatically from many websites and library E-resources
  • Format bibliographies in your papers

Why choose Zotero over another tool, like RefWorks or Endnote?

  • Your Zotero library is saved locally and though it is possible for you to create a cloud space and sync your citations, it requires you to adjust your settings on every computer you use Zotero with. If you do your research and writing mostly on one or two computers, Zotero is a great option.
  • Zotero can be used offline -- an internet connection is not necessary to work with your Zotero library.
  • Learning to use Zotero is easy

Where do I find Zotero?

1. Download the Zotero application for your operating system. If you plan to use Zotero with a word processor, close all word processing applications before running the installer.

2. When installing the Zotero connector, the option you are given depends on which browser you are using to access the page. In the example above, I used Chrome to access the Zotero site, so it prompted me to install the Chrome connector.  Connectors are also available for Firefox and Edge. Use those browsers to access the Zotero page if you want to install their connectors. You can add as many connectors as you want -- they will all connect to your Zotero application. 


Getting Started with Zotero

Zotero provides the ability to save references from many library catalogs and article databses with one click. Your Zotero library allows you to organize and edit the entries.


Collections: The left column shows My Library, which contains all the items. Clicking the button above the left column (looks like a folder with a green plus sign) creates a new collection, a folder into which items relating to a specific project or topic can be placed.

Below that is the tag selector, where tags assigned to items can be added or removed.

Items: The items pane displays a list of all the items in each collection with icons that indicate the type of item (book, article, thesis, screenshot, etc.).

Item Details: This pane displays the bibliographic information that was imported by Zotero for each item. Each field can be edited. There are also options to add additional notes, attachments, links to the original sources, tags, and subject headings.