Following is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to transforming your Zotero installation into one that keeps its PDF and image attachments in your cloud storage, and creates links from your Zotero application and web library that don’t eat up your 300MB Zotero storage limit. The process has been tested on a Windows 10 PC with Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive.
Before you begin, you’ve installed Zotero 5 on your computer and a Zotero connector within your browser. Your cloud storage is installed as an application on your computer (not just accessible on the web)—this means that your cloud storage is visible in your computer’s directory as an external hard drive.
Download and install this plugin from http://zotfile.com/index.html by clicking on Download on the left side of the page (don’t try to open the file itself on your computer); then start Zotero 5 and go to “Tools→Add-ons.” This opens the Add-ons Manager page. In the settings menu (the small, drop-down wheel in the top right corner), click on “Install Add-on from File” and select the downloaded .xpi file. You’ll get an ominous warning about only downloading from trusted sources; you can trust this one. You’ll also have to restart Zotero.
Now you’re set to go on from here, and if you’re just starting out with Zotero, you’re done. But what about those of us—most of us—who have been using Zotero for a while, and whose links are now broken? You’ll need to move and rename your PDF files with ZotFile, and you may have to reset your paths within Zotero using Zutilo.
Select the citations in Zotero that you want to migrate. Then right-click and choose Tools→Manage Attachments→Rename and Move.
That’s it! This puts the stored PDFs in the new, correct directory. However, though ZotFile has moved the files, Zotero may still think they’re in the old directory. Try to open one. If it opens without problem, you’re set. If you get a message that says that the PDF is missing and displays the old file path, you’ll need to update the links.
You can change the links one by one as the need arises (right-click on the item; choose Show file in the drop-down menu that appears; in the dialog box that pops up to tell you that Zotero can’t find it, click Locate and navigate to your new location). A better solution – and one that will come in handy if you ever get a new computer or new hard drive – is to use Zutilo to reassign all your file locations at once.
If you have citations with attachments in your Zotero library already, you may need to download the plugin Zutilo as well. This plugin is found at https://github.com/wshanks/Zutilo/releases (documentation for the plugin is here). Right-click on the link and choose “Save Link as…” Again, don’t open the downloaded file; use the same procedure as in step 4 except, of course, with the zutilo.xpi file. Zutilo does not require a Zotero restart.