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How to Set Your Preferences

From the application window in Zotero Standalone, click Edit and then Preferences.

You will want to set preferences on the General, Sync, Export, and Cite tabs (use the links to navigate this page). 


Under General at the top of the Preferences window:

  • Make sure Automatically attach associated PDFs and other files when saving items is checked.
  • You can choose whether or not to have Zotero automatically capture screenshots of items it creates from webpages.  This is a very useful feature if you want to maintain a record of how a website looked on a specific date.  The screenshot files do take up space on your Zotero account so you may want to uncheck this option and manually capture a screenshot of a website whenever you need. To manually capture a screen shot, you would click on the paperclip icon and select Attach Snapshot of Current Page.
Zotero Preferences page on the General tab


Click Sync at the top of the Preferences window:

  • Enter your username and password that you created at
  • Make sure Sync Automatically is checked. This ensures that your library is backed up to the Zotero servers.
  • Check Sync attachment files in My Library using and select Zotero from the dropdown menu. You get 300 MB of space on the Zotero servers for free.
  • Check Sync attachment files in group libraries using Zotero storage.
  • If you use more than one computer in your research, you can set up Zotero on each computer and use the syncing function to maintain the same library on all of your computers.
Preferences tab showing the Sign In boxes  then Preferences tab showing Sync options


Click Export at the top of the Preferences window:

  • Quick Copy is useful when you want to drop a reference into an email, a textbox on a webpage, or into a Google Docs document. Select whatever bibliographic Default Format you would like.
Preferences tab showing Export options

Click Cite at the top of the Preferences window: 

  • The Word Processors tab confirms the installation of your preferred word processor plug-in. Downloading Zotero should have automatically added in the word processing plug-in that you use, but if it does not, click the button here to re-install it. 

screenshot of Zotero window, showing the Preferences > Cite > Word processors menu and a button to Reinstall Word Add-In

  • The Styles tab allows you choose a selection of citation styles that will be available for you to use in Zotero and in the word processing plug-in.
    • If needed, click on Get additional styles... to add more styles.  Zotero has general styles such as MLA as well as journal-specific styles such as Nature's in-house style.

Preferences tab with Cite option selected

  • Start typing the name of the style you need in the search box on the webpage.

Zotero Style Search box

  • Click on the name of the style to download the .csl file.
  • Go back to your Zotero Preferences pane and click the + sign. Upload the .csl file you just downloaded. Now you have the style loaded into your Zotero.

Preferences -- Cite option, showing the plus sign under the Style Manager box


Next Steps

  • Congratulations! You have set up Zotero. 
  • You can now learn how to Collect References.