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Zotero @ the WSU Libraries

About this Page

These are my thoughts about third-party apps that work with Zotero to view, edit, and read from your Zotero Library with mobile devices.


Not precisely a mobile app, but it provides some cool functionality that can help you use your tablet for opening a PDF in your Zotero library, annotating it using your PDF apps (I.e. iAnnotate or PDFExpert). and then sending it back to your Zotero library with annotations. (that ZotFile can then extract into a Zotero Note). See the "Using ZotFile for Tablet Syncing and More" tab on this guide for more on this. I love this app!


Viewing and Searching

  • You can see your library (called All Documents here) and all collections and sub-collections that you have created, but not non-collections (unfiled, trash, duplicates). Your Zotero Group libraries show up at the very bottom of the Collections pane.
  • No new Collections can be created in PaperShip
  • Records highlight the article PDF or screenshot, with bibliographic metadata viewable by clicking on the circled i icon.There is also an icon for a Note - even if you have multiple notes for an item, you will still only see one (more to come about *which* one you see - is it recency or recency plus source (PaperShip, ZotPad,, or desktop app)  that matters?). If there is no PDF or screenshot, the main viewing pane is empty.
  • Tags show up in the record and can be searched, but there is no separate tag viewer pane. You can only search by one tag.
  • Notes: If you already have more than one Note for a Zotero item, only the oldest one (first created) will display (it can be edited in PaperShip) and there will be no indication that any other notes exist. If you have no Notes and wish to create one in PaperShip, you can only create one. Hint: if you have more than one note, indicate this in the first-created Note  so that you know you can go back to your Zotero library at or on your desktop/laptop to see the rest of your Notes.

Annotation and Searchability

PaperShip includes a highlighter (with changeable colors) and you can also purchase in-app additional annotation tools: writing on the document, pop-up notes (you can change the designated icon using colors and shapes such as stars or check marks), drawing tools, insert voice, image insert, stamps, and grouping. The PDF tools follow PDF standardization, so searchable annotations can be searched outside of PaperShip (keeping in mind the usual PDF thing that functionality depends on how the PDF was annotated and what you are viewing it in; generally: 1. only selectable annotations can be searched, and 2. searching may be limited if you are searching in-browser versus on a separate PDF-reading application). The tools all have nice formatting options via the Inspector option. (It's really worth the $5). 

Searching within the Collections Pane: titles, authors, and tags

Searching within PDFs: PDF text and searchable annotations (see above)

Screenshots cannot be annotated and cannot be searched (Note: screenshots aren't actually screenshots - they are live windows from the website captured, which may actually limit their utility).

Sorting and Navigation

Items in your library and collections can be sorted by: title, author, journal, publication date, modification date, and "Altmetric Score" (see below).

Items with viewable attachments (PDF or screenshot) can be moved or copied to Collections via the folder icon (this means that items with only bibliographic metadata cannot be copied or moved).


Syncs with both and Mendeley. Pull down on the top of the Collections pane to sync. It can be slowish.

Sharing and "Open in..."

Using the usual iPad icon you can share citations via Twitter, email, and Message. Items can also be opened in other PDF reading and annotating applications such as PDF Reader or iAnnotate - if any changes are made to them, your PDF can be exported back to PaperShip with the annotations intact, and those annotations can be edited or deleted via PaperShip's own annotation tools.


  • DOIs - if an item has a DOI just click on the arrow to resolve it to the publisher page outside of PaperShip (Note: WSU users and others may be able to use their library's proxy bookmarklet to get to the fulltext of an article via the publisher site if you don't already have the PDF or that your library has access).
  • Altmetrics (non-traditional article use metrics)  - integrated with Items with altmetric data (measured by that company) have a rainbow icon which can be clicked for basic altmetric details and includes a link to more data.


Help is available via the in-app gear icon (email support, FAQ, links to PaperShip website, blog, and Facebook pages).


This is a pretty spiffy app. It's really worth the $5 to purchase the in-app annotation tools. I like that it works with both Zotero and Mendeley, and I'm interested to see how the partnership with (NOT will pan out. iTunes reviews are mostly positive, with some complaints about Mendeley syncing and general syncing time.

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