Digital Hoarding: Zotero

ZoteroThe next thing someone will be making a TV show about it. I don’t, personally, have a problem with digital hoarding, which is to say what anyone else might interpret as ‘hoarding’ has been out of control for so long I’ve ceased to view it as a problem.

The only part that bothers me is having my computer files disorganized. If I find something old and irrelevant that I can delete that’s always a thrill. I’m not hanging on by my toenails just for something to do.

Maybe it’s because it’s Spring and the sun is out, for a change, but staying focused these days seems really challenging. So, when I’m unfocused, one of the places I like to go is wandering around in my bookmarks. Chances are I’ll find something I abandoned a long time ago to renew my interest.

If you’re making bookmarks in your browser anyway, you might as well make some of them in Zotero instead. Why? Because it doesn’t just make bookmarks, it also takes snapshots of the pages and keeps a library of them. You can add notes and tags and related pages, and even attach local files. You can sync to the Zotero server and share your library with other people. Or not. And it will sync automatically to your other computers. You can search the contents. You can print bibliographies. It just goes on and on.

The library resides in your Firefox profile so if you’re not synced to their server, remember to make a backup of it.

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\uuaxmm1u.default\zotero

I’m not a very technical user of Zotero. I mostly use it for bookmarks that I don’t need to access everyday but might want to access someday. Once in awhile I’ll add an author’s name or some notes.

I know some of you are still hanging back with Internet Explorer and you’ll need Firefox to use Zotero. That doesn’t mean you have to give up IE altogether. Just use Firefox when you’re using Zotero. You might fall in love with it and you can wean yourself off IE gradually.

Instead of making a bookmark of a page as usual, click the “Create New Item from Current Page’ button and it will be added to your Zotero library. Drag and drop it into the folder of your choice, add some notes. Or not. And you’re done.



Zotero opens and closes at the bottom of Firefox with a single click. It also expands to full-screen mode so it won’t make you feel claustrophobic as your folder tree gets longer and longer. On the left is your category tree of folders and sub-folders. In the middle are the pages. On the right are your options for Notes, Tags, and lots of other details. It’s digital hoarding on steroids.

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