This was a somewhat inevitable transition given my recent focus on privacy, data governance, sharing and the want for local control and access. I didn’t mind the removal of the social networking aspect of Mendeley, but the demise of the mobile app was too great of an impact on my workflow to continue using Mendeley. Yes, I could use the web app, but it’s clunky on tablet and I don’t always have internet access (reading papers by the lake, or on the train anyone?). I used Mendeley almost daily on my tablet to read papers that I synced from the desktop. I have NEVER used the web interface, and never will now.

Mendeley have sadly locked down the ability to import your library straight into Zotero, so there’s a bit of work involved, moreso if you have a large library. Mine involved a mix of exporting PDFs with annotations (only for papers I have a lot of notes taken on), and exporting folders as a bib file for import into Zotero as a new collection (which I then renamed to match the old folder name in Mendeley). I remember going through a similar pain when I switched from EndNote to Mendeley back in 2014, and I hope to not have to do this again for a long time.

I spent a few hours, and paid the $20 to get 2GB of cloud storage with Zotero. I figure that’s the same space I had with Mendeley, and I wasn’t using all of it having trimmed back my library a few years ago. I installed the Zoo for Zotero app (free) to access my library, and Xodo PDF reader (free) which plays nicely with Zoo for Zotero, and allows two-way syncing of PDF annotations. I also installed Zotfile add-in for Zotero which has this same sync functionality for other readers, and also gives you some control over file naming etc.

And now, I have a desktop app that has an MS Word citation plugin, 2GB cloud storage that syncs to a mobile app and permanent PDF annotations (Zotero uses a system PDF reader, Mendeley stores them separately). There is also an official iOS app in testing as I write.

Zotero isn’t perfect mind – I’ll miss the ability to have a watched folder for example. In order to continue my workflow for reading on tablet, which has become such an essential part of my process, I can live with that.

Bonus: Zotero can integrate with Scrivener for citation input as outlined here: – I’m looking forward to testing this ability in the future.