ZotFile Reader is a Zotero plugin and Firefox extension that streamlines the process to work with Zotero and your PDF reader applications on tablet computers (iPad, Android tablets etc). Building on my zotfile plugin, this add-on pushes attachments to a folder that syncs with your pdf app (such as a dropbox folder),renames them according to the zotfile rules, automatically checks whether these pdfs have been annotated, and prompts the user whether s/he wants to pull them back into zotero. It also adds a tag to the attachments on the 'reader' so that these attachments can easily be listed through a saved search. In particular, it offers the following functions:
1) Push Attachment File to Reader
This function moves the attachment to the reader destination folder specified by the user, renames it according to the zotfile rules, changes the attachment so that it links to the new location, adds the tag '_READ', and adds a time stamp. The folder should be set in the preference dialog and should be a folder that syncs with your tablet (dropbox...). The tag allows the user to easily find the attachments on the reader (you can also add a saved search for this tag). The time stamp is added to the attachment note field so that zotfile reader can recognize when the attachment was modified (e.g. annotated).
2) Pull Attachment File from Reader
This function pulls the attachment from the reader and moves it back to it's original place using zotfile's options. The function is similar to zotfile's 'Rename Existing Attachments' function but it also removes the tag.
3) Scan Reader (accessible through Zotero Actions -> Scan Reader...)
This functions checks whether any of the attachments on the tablet were updated using the time tag and asks the user whether s/he wants to a) pull the attachment, b) update the time tag, or c) do nothing.
Background and Foreground Mode
In background mode, zotfile reader leaves all zotero attachment files where they are and moves copies of the file to the destination folder when you push attachments and replaces the zotero attachment file with this copy when you pull files. Everything happens in the background. The mode is useful when you want to sync the attachment files in your zotero library across multiple computers or when you index your attachments. The disadvantage is that there are two copies of the file.
The foreground mode moves the attachment file to the destination folder and links to this file from within zotero so that there always is only one copy of your files. You can not, however, sync linked attachments to the zotero server.
Here are the steps to get started:
1) install zotfile 1.6.2 from
2) (optional) change the zotfile renaming options so that you like them.
3) Set up some folder that syncs with you tablet. One possibility is to get a dropbox account, which syncs with PDF Expert, iAnnotate, etc.
4) install zotfile reader from
5) change the destination folder in the zotfile reader options to the folder set up under 3.
6) (optional) add a saved search with the tag '_READ'
7) write the developers of different pdf apps and ask whether they can add the feature descried below
8) please donate: http://www.columbia.edu/~jpl2136/zotfile.html
· Mozilla Firefox
What's New in This Release: [ read full changelog ]
· Extraction of annotations and highlights from PDFs (currently only on Mac)
· Compatible with Zotero Standalone (for instructions see here and remember to first install zotfile 1.6.4)
· user-defined sub-folder configuration is now in a separate window
· empty folders are deleted after changing user-defined subfolders
· BUG resolved: pop-up menu now works in second FF window