PDF and reference managing.

I know there is (what looks like) a good program for Macs entitled “Papers” that is something like iTunes in that you can have a single folder full of PDFs and manage both the files and the reference information very easily.

Problem: I don’t use a Mac. So, I am looking for something similar along the “iTunes” line, where one can keep all the PDFs in one place and then create “playlists” with links to the papers. I think the new EndNote may do this. I am going to try it out. Does anyone know of any other possibilities for PCs? I am sure many of us would love to have a list of programs.



  • EndNote looks like it will do what I have in mind. $250 but worth it if a) no other options, and b) can install on several computers (not certain about that yet).
  • Zotero, Mendeley, and JabRef have been recommended. Have tried Zotero previously, and it looks good but I prefer something that isn’t dependent on a browser.

6 thoughts on “PDF and reference managing.

  1. Zotero seems pretty good and is open source and web-based. I haven’t used it a whole lot yet to review any minuses though.

  2. I’ve been using Zotero, EndNote, and OneNote. The first two have ways to attach a link from a reference to a pdf file, but it requires manual navigation to make the link: you click the attachment button or menu item and then navigate to the folder where your files are stored, find the file and click on it to establish the link. EndNote is well integrated with Word and makes citations and lit. cited very easy. Zotero is not integrated with Word, but will produce a bibliography formatted in a variety of ways.
    One Note I use for organizing ideas, etc., and link the notes to the pdf files that are appropriate. It doesn’t integrate with Word like EndNote does.
    With Zotero and EndNote you can attach tags to the citation, allowing you to organize the citations and their linked pdf files.
    Hope this is of some help.

  3. I’d also recommend Mendeley. They are still in beta, and surely have to work out some issues, but it already is a great app! I also tried Zotero, and while I commend them for their effort, I just never had this feeling of connecting to the software, if you know what I mean.

  4. I have tested Endnote a little, and I think it does what I want. $250 though — I hope that means I can install it on all my computers. If not, meh. I did try Zotero a while ago and thought it looked very promising but I really prefer something that isn’t browser-dependent. Why wont Pages port onto PC???

  5. Hi, you should try JabRef, it is cross-platform, opensource and works quite well. You can set it to auto link pdfs from a folder according to the entry bibtex key and filename. Many other features like smart groups and export options.


    It works well as a reference manager, although I was waiting to discover something like Papers…

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