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Practical instructions for installing and using Zotero citation manager.

Why migrate?

With the deprecation of Mendeley Desktop, we are finding that this software no longer provides an adequate citation management experience for our students and faculty. We recommend that all RRU students and faculty who are currently using Mendeley migrate to Zotero. Here are instructions for importing your Mendeley library into Zotero.

Bulk import instructions

Zotero can directly import all data, including the full folder structure, from an online Mendeley library.

To import your Mendeley library, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure that all data and files have been synced to Mendeley servers.

    • If you use Mendeley Desktop, check your sync settings to make sure that data and files are being synced, and confirm that you can open PDFs in your online Mendeley library.

    • If you use Mendeley Reference Manager, your data and files are already all online.

  2. Make sure you're running at least Zotero 6, which contains the latest version of the importer as well as a new PDF reader that can display PDF annotations imported from Mendeley.

  3. Go to File → Import within Zotero and choose the “Mendeley Reference Manager (online import)” option.

You'll be asked to log in to Mendeley to allow Zotero to perform the import. Your Mendeley password is never seen or stored.

If for some reason you're not able to perform a direct online import, it's possible to import from a local Mendeley database by installing an old version of Mendeley Desktop from before Mendeley began encrypting the local database. See the local import instructions in Zotero's knowledge base for more information.

Known issues

There are a few issues to be aware of when importing from Mendeley.

  • To import PDF highlight and note annotations, you must import using Zotero 6, which adds support for annotations. If you’ve previously imported from Mendeley using Zotero’s importer, you can repeat the process with Zotero 6 to bring in your highlights and notes.

  • It’s not possible to directly import group libraries. To import items in group libraries, copy the group items to a collection in your Mendeley library before importing. You can then create a Zotero group and drag imported collections or items to that group.

  • Mendeley allows any field to be added to any type. When importing into Zotero, if a field isn’t valid for a given item type, the field is placed into the Extra field. When possible, those will be used automatically in citations (e.g., Original Date), and future versions of Zotero will automatically convert those to any real fields that become available.

  • Zotero's Word and LibreOffice plugins can read citations created by Mendeley Desktop, so you can continue using the same documents with Zotero and insert additional instances of those citations by choosing from the “Cited” section of the search results in the citation dialog. However, the citations created with Mendeley won’t currently be linked to imported items in your Zotero database. If you need to make changes to an item's metadata, you'll want to use Add/Edit Citation and relink all instances of the citation in the document to the imported item in your library. A future update may allow the plugins to use the imported citations automatically. Citations created with Mendeley Cite are not readable by Zotero.

Learn more

The information on this page comes from the Zotero knowledgebase article "How do I import a Mendeley library into Zotero?" Please consult that article for additional information.