Zotero Item URIs from Client

While working with Frank Bennett on implementing a Zotero workflow for google docs or Scrivener (almost ready – stay tuned) I wrote two little (tiny, really) tools that I thought I’d share.

The first one allows you to quick copy the URI of an item from your Zotero client. The second one gives you a zotero://select link that opens an item in Zotero.

Zotero Item URI

Say you want to send a friend a link to an item in your public Zotero library or in a group on zotero.org. Right now this is  a cumbersome process: Go online, search for the item, copy the link from the URL bar… With the “Item URI” Translator, you can simply drag and drop a link to the online version of the item. Setting this up takes three steps

  1. Download the file “Item URI.js” from here and place it in the directory “translators” in your Zotero data folder.
  2. Restart Firefox/Zotero
  3. In the Zotero Preferences go to the “Export” and set the Default Output Format to “Item URI” (this will be towards the bottom of the list)quickcopy-itemuris

You can now take advantage of Zotero’s quick copy functionality and drag&drop links from the item in your client right into an email or a blogpost. You can also use the shortcut for “Copy Selected Items –  ctrl+alt+c on Linux/Windows, cmd+shift+c on Mac – to copy the URI to you clipboard. It will look something like this: http://zotero.org/users/76252/items/UUKSSZVK

Personally I think something like this should be included as a button in Zotero’s interface, but until that’s the case, I hope you find it useful.

Zotero Select

Zotero allows you to directly link to an item in your local database. If you paste a valid URI starting with zotero://select into your URL bar in Firefox, it will open Zotero to that item.  To create such a zotero://select link from an item, download the file “Zotero Select Item.js” from here and then follow steps 1-3 above. A link will look like zotero://select/items/0_USN95MJC and work only with your library.

The main use for such links would be to link to Zotero from other software, e.g. from note-taking applications There are several issues involved with that depending on your operating system and I’m not going to go into the details, but see here for a good overview with many more links and here for a Mac/Applescript specific solution. The version of the Zotero select translator linked to above will only create the link – you can find some more elaborate version – including html wrappers and basic item information – linked to from here.

14 thoughts on “Zotero Item URIs from Client

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  3. google

    Hello! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay.
    I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

  4. Gustav Delius

    The zotero select link is extremely useful. Thank you for implementing it via a translator. That works. But could you push for that feature to become an entry on the right-click context menu?

    1. adam3smith Post author

      I don’t think there will be a right-click menu item for this — the context menu for items is already way overloaded, but there’s talk of making the default output (for quick copy) more easily accessible, e.g. in the Zotero toolbar, which would give you almost the same effect.

      1. Gustav Delius

        Thank you for that information. I think you are right. I instead made a feature request to the Zutilo plug-in to have this functionality included. The Zutilo plug-in lets the user choose which of its functions are shown in the right-click context menu, which solves the problem of overloading the menu with unused items that you mention.

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  6. Telly

    The “Zotero Select” didn’t work for me on Zotero 4.0.29. Replacing




    gives me access to the report page of the select item. It’s not the same as the select function of the initial script but it comes close to it. Anyway, thanks a lot for sharing this, it’s a very useful tool!

  7. Gurdas

    This is great, thanks.
    Please fix the type in “You can also use the shortcut for “Copy Selected Items – ctrl+alt+c on Linux/Windows,”

    That should be ctrl+shift+c

  8. Kevin Geoghegan

    This sounds great, but I can`t seem to download either of the files “Item URI.js” or “Zotero Select Item.js”. When I click on the link I see some text on a webpage and no option to download. Am I missing something?


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