Skip to Main Content

Library Services




Guide to using Zotero reference management software

Searching for references in your Zotero library

If you have many references in your Zotero library, it can be useful to search it to identify particular references.

To search your entire library, make sure My Library is selected in the left-hand menu. If you want to search only those references in a particular collection, select that collection.

  • Use the search box at the top right of the central pane to search your library, from the drop down list select:
    • Everything - to search fields, tags, text in notes, and indexed text in PDFs.
    • All Fields and Tags - to search fields, as well as tags and text in notes.
    • Title, Year, Creator - to search these three fields, as well as publication titles.
  • Search your library for articles with a particular tag (also called keyword). Use the search box of the Tag Selector at the bottom of the left pane, type a specific keyword to filter documents or browse the tags in the selector. 
  • Advanced Search: click on the magnifying glass icon at the top of the central pane to open the advanced search window.


You can organise your library by using tags (another name for keyword). Authors sometimes assign tags to their published papers and these will be included automatically in the references you have imported into your Zotero library.

You can add tags to your references manually:

  • Select a reference from the list of items in your Zotero Desktop library. The pane on the right-hand side contains information about the selected reference.
  • Click on the Tags tab and type the tag(s) you want to add to the reference. To add more tags press the Return key or click the Add button.

Zotero desktop tags screenshot

Zotero desktop tags search box screenshot

To search your library for articles with a particular tag, simply search the 

tags box on the bottom left-hand side or browse and select the appropriate tag.

Finding references in folders

Yes it is possible, to view to which collections you have added your references:

if you are using a PC or laptop:

  • In My Library: select the reference you want to check.
  • Then hold down the 'Ctrl' key on your keyboard. 
  • The collections that have the reference will be highlighted in yellow.

If you are using a Mac:

  • Select the reference you want to check.
  • Then hold down the 'Option' key, this will highlight the collections that contain the selected reference.

Zotero references in collections screenshot