Skip to Main Content


Getting Started with Zotero

Please complete Steps 1-3, listed below, to get started using Zotero.

Step 1: Creating a Zotero Account

Before you download Zotero, you will want to create an account at using the link below. We strongly recommend signing up with your St. Olaf email address.


Why do I need an account?

Creating a Zotero account will allow you to save your research sources online, meaning that you can access them from any computer with internet access. Your online account will also allow you to create "group libraries" in which you can collaborate and share research sources with other Zotero users.


Why should I use my St. Olaf email address to sign up?

If you sign up with Zotero using your St. Olaf email address, you will have access to unlimited storage for items in your online Zotero account. On the other hand, if you sign up using a personal email address, the storage limit for the free version of Zotero (300MB) will apply to your online account. If you wish to change the email address associated with your account (or add an additional email address to the account), you are able to do so by going to

Step 2: Installing Zotero


Downloading Zotero to Your Desktop

  1. If Microsoft Word is installed on your computer, make sure it is closed before you begin the installation
  2. Go to the Zotero download page (linked above)
  3. Click the large blue "Download" button on the left side of the page and follow the installation instructions
  4. When you reach the "Setup Type" page, choose the "Standard" setup option
  5. Zotero should automatically start after installation. If this is not the case, go to your Start menu and it should be within the applications. If you use Microsoft Word, a "Zotero" tab should now display, allowing you to cite sources and create bibliographies.


Installing the Zotero Connector on Your Preferred Browser

  1. Chrome, Firefox, and Edge users: Go to the Zotero download page (linked above) and click the blue button labeled "Install [browser name] connector," then proceed through the installation process, approving any permissions that Zotero requires.
  2. Safari users: Make sure you've installed the desktop Zotero program FIRST. Then, in the Safari browser, click Safari in the upper left corner of your screen. Next, click Preferences, then Extensions. From this page, click the checkbox next to "Zotero Connector" and click "Turn On" to enable the browser extension.

Step 3: Syncing Your Library

Once you've created an online Zotero account and downloaded the desktop version of Zotero, you'll want to sync your desktop with your online account. Syncing allows you to access all your saved information through your online Zotero account, no matter what computer you are using.


How to Sync (first time only)

  1. Open Zotero (desktop)
  2. Click the Sync icon in the upper right corner of your screen (circular green arrow)
  3. You may see a message saying "You must enter your username and password in the Zotero preferences to sync with the Zotero server." Click "Open Sync Preferences."
  4. Enter the username and password you created for your online Zotero account, then click "Set up Syncing"
  5. Make sure the "Sync automatically" box is checked
  6. Click "OK"

Your desktop version of Zotero and online account should now automatically sync, allowing you to access your Zotero library from any computer with an internet connection.

Zotero Terminology

Collection- a way to sort your library into different categories to keep related materials together

Groups- a way to share sources and information with other Zotero users in collaborative work

Library- your main storage place for items added. You can add books, web pages, PDFs, photos, etc

Style- the  citation format you use for your papers and research (APA, MLA, ASA, etc)

Syncing- setting Zotero to access your sources no matter what computer you use. Also called using multiple computers