What options are available for accessing my Zotero data and files on a tablet?

On a general level, there are at least five different ways to access your Zotero data and/or files on a tablet. This article uses Dropbox as an example of a cloud storage service, but also other services would work.

  1. ZotPad for iPad/iPhone (or Zandy for Android)
  2. Zotero website 
  3. Store your files in Dropbox and add them to Zotero as linked files (see this article).
  4. Store the Zotero storage directory in Dropbox as a symbolic link (see this article). 
  5. Use Zotfile to temporary move some of your Zotero files to Dropbox and then back after you are done editing or reading them (see Zotfile website). 
The table below lists the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
MethodAdvantagesDisadvantages
ZotPad
  • Allows offline reading and editing
  • Supports different file storage services
  • Allows searching for items by collections, tags, and item data
  • Editing notes and tags (requires ZotPad 1.2 or later)
  • Not free
Zotero website
  • Allows searching for items by collections, tags, and item data
  • Editing notes and tags 
  • Not free (you need to subscribe to Zotero storage)
  • No offline use
Linked files in Dropbox
  • Allows offline reading and editing
  • Free
  • You need to manage the files yourself instead of allowing Zotero to manage them
  • Information about collections and other Zotero data is not available on the tablet
Zotero storage directory in Dropbox
  • Allows offline reading and editing
  • Free
  • Requires setting up a symbolic link on your computer.
  • The files are stored in folders without human readable names.
  • Information about collections and other Zotero data is not available on the tablet
Move files temporarily with Zotfile
  • Allows offline reading and editing
  • Free
  • Optionally extracts notes from PDFs as Zotero notes.
  • You need to manually send and receive files between computer and tablet using Zotfile
  • Not all your files will be stored online.
  • Information about collections and other Zotero data is not available on the tablet

There are also options that may seem possible, but are not recommended. Do not place the Zotero data directory in Dropbox, because this will risk of corrupting your database (see this article). Do not try to access files stored in WebDAV directly from a tablet. If you edit a file on a WebDAV server but do not update the metadata about the file on the Zotero server, you risk corrupting your data. And in any case, Zotero would not know that the files have been edited on the WebDAV server.

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