From devonthink TO zotero

I’m happy that I have adequate desktop support for zotero IN to DTP (basically when I rename the PDF extensions, I seem to have got something which imports the PDF into DTP - I say, I seem, coz I did it so long ago I’ve forgotten what it was).

However, now I read lots on my IPAD, I find I don’t have a good workflow for getting new papers into my system. I want them in both DTP and zotero. Clearly getting them into DTP on the ipad is easy (via DTP to go) …

… so what I’d like to do is work out how I could have automation to load new PDF files (in a particular folder or with a particular tag) into zotero on the desktop.

Is anyone aware of anything that does anything like that?

Thanks in advance,

I would suggest reading the Help > Documentation > In & Out > Importing & Indexing section.

Thanks, but that’s not showing me any obvious ideas for how to set up an import FROM Devonthink Pro TO Zotero.

I think that’ll require some combination of a smart rule and some applescript and/or a zotero plugin that pulls stuff from a particular place?

I’m quite capable of modifying something, but setting something up from scratch in this space is beyond me right now, I was hoping there might be someone who had done something similar …

We don’t automate Zotero. Perhaps @mhucka has an idea.

I don’t seem to be able to drop the link here, but I have taken this to the zotero forums …

Zotero has extremely good capabilities for importing data in many ways - what new do you want?


I use iPad with DTTG I usually use it put pdfs to one of the Inboxes.
Then on the computer I import them to Zotero. I use Zotero with Zotfile plugin, I have everything in one Zotero folder which is indexed by Devonthink.

Zotfile could observe specific folder and import pdfs from it into Zotero.
So if you have on your computer folder “Zotero Inbox” which Zotfile will observe, and the same folder will be indexed to your DT database, so every time you put a pdf to that folder Zotfile should import the file and put it into Zotero.

The same pdf should appear now in your “Main Zotero Zotfile storage folder” folder which could be indexed by DT too.

So far is not easy to capture or move files on DTTG to subfolders, maybe DTTG3 will change that.

Argh. I have used zotfile to input changed PDFs via the on tablet option, but I’d not thought/realised i could additionally watch another directory of new stuff. Will investigate and report. That could be the way forward, even with DTTG not making it too easy …


I have too many pdfs in the Zotero folder for easily finding them on my iPad
For reading on tablet I use specific tag and DT smart rule
→ replicate and put to the specific folder

You Could have your functionality in the same way -

  • You could have smart rule defined on your mac
  • "Move file with tag “Y” to folder X, where Y could be “InboxZotero” and “X” could be a Zotfile Inbox folder you indexed in DT
  • when you are adding new file to DTTG is enough to add a tag Y, every time you open DT on mac and sync Smart Rule should be automated (you could choose perform after sync)
  • the only problem is that Zotfile will add the file to main library, not into any of your collections, my problem is that I have too many files in my Zotero library that aren’t in any collection, so the new file easily will be lost, so instead I prefer to add them manually
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Sorry for coming back to this late. I had replied to bnl’s posting of the same question to the Zotero forums then forgot to come back to answer it here too. For completeness’ sake, I want to reprise the answer here:

Regarding the direction from DEVONthink to Zotero: I’m sorry to say I’ve only worked on the Zotero to DEVONthink direction. My approach to using the two has been to put papers always in Zotero first, and use Zotero only to manage the bibliographic data and generate reference data (particularly in bibtex format); everything else, including reading notes and annotating PDF files, I do in DEVONthink. DEVONthink think can index external folders, so by indexing Zotero’s PDF folder, it’s possible to view PDFs in DEVONthink and use DEVONthink’s excellent PDF reading/annotation interface to mark up the PDF, and have the changes stored directly in the PDF that is kept in Zotero.

I see people here are coming up with clever ways of going in the opposite direction, so I think I’ll be learning some new ideas from the rest of you!


Thanks for this. The piece I’m not ceratin about is the “Zotfile Inbox folder” … how do I get Zotfile to load files from this? Are we essentially treating the tablet folder like an inbox?

  • (I had assumed if I put a file in there that Zotfile itself didn’t put there, it might barf. I’m loathe to play with it because I don’t have a sandbox, and I don’t want to break the existing stuff.
  • I assume neither of us use zotfile for the tablet mode any more then?)

Sorry for not checking it earlier, Zotfile removed this feature :frowning:

Zotfile could only autmatically attach items from watched folder to your last edited Zotero entry, but this is probably not enough for you

I stopped using Zotfile tablet mode, it was not working for me the way I wanted;
The way I use DTTG and Zotero now:

  • [On Ipad] When I find a new article while on my Ipad I capture pdf I found to specific Inbox using DTTG
  • [On Mac] move these articles to Zotero manually and delete them form DT
  • [On Mac] But I have Folder with all my pdfs indexed in DT, so the same article will appear again in this folder (Zotfile moved pdfs there form Zotero Storage folder, this way I could use Dropbox or other service to store and sync my files, and I could go over 2gb limit without paying for additional storage)
  • [On Mac] I have smart rule that show me recently added pdfs, If there is article that I want to easily find on my ipad, I add a specific tag, another smart rule will create replicas of that file in specific X folder,
    -[ On iPad] I could easily find the files I want to read in folder X, The whole Zotero library is also synced in the same database but isn’t easy to find something when you have ~ 1000 pdfs

For more people who will be reading this later, here is sma ll tutorial about Zotero and Zotfile setup

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With a few minor differences (I can usually find what I want in DTTG if it is already properly indexed by DTP), your workflow is the same as mine … now … but there are a lot of ugly repetitive steps. I am hoping the next version of DTTG will make this easier.

The other piece of this story that I want to somehow deliver, and it might depend on new Zotero functionality via the debug-bridge, is to find a bunch of references in DTP, and then somehow create a citation formatted bibliography for that collection. Given zowie (which I have yet to implement) might give me the link back to the files in zotero, I am hoping to tag them and go that way. Anyone got anything similar or better?

For those who need it spelt out: Zowie writes the path of a pdf linked to a zotero entry into the comment field of the pdf file. It took me a few minutes to understand how to run zowie after I had downloaded and installed it. I have the latest python on my macbook which requires the following in terminal to run. To get information / help:
python3 -m zowie -h

To run zowie requires the path and name of your zotero directory usually “Zotero”
python3 -m zowie ~/Zotero

I would like to see future functionality in devonthink to link to zotero, given both programs use tags, for example.

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