How to Use Zotero

Bite-size search strategies to help you become an expert searcher.


It is possible to work collaboratively with Zotero by sharing references and PDF files. To do so, a Zotero account is required.

Creating a group

  1. From Zotero, click the New Library dropdown menu ( New Library dropdown ) and select “New Group…”
  2. The Zotero Web site opens in your browser
  3. Enter your Zotero username and password
  4. Provide a name for the group
  5. Choose a group type
    • Public, open membership – open to everyone, useful for sharing publicly
    • Public, closed membership – open, but upon invitation or request only
    • Private membership – no public space, file sharing is possible, members are invited
  6. Click “Create Group”

Setting and modifying group settings

After creating a group, it is possible to modify a few settings.

  • Library settings – permissions for accessing, editing and sharing
  • Group settings – useful for public groups (info on the group, images, link, etc.)
  • Member settings – management of members, roles and permissions
    • Types of members
      • Owner (can delete group and transfer ownership)
      • Administrator (can do everything except delete a group)
      • Member (administrator can set permissions for reading, editing and sharing files)

Working with groups in Zotero

If synchronization is activated in Zotero, groups will appear in the left column under your library and collections.

However, you can access groups without using Zotero by accessing them directly through the Zotero Web site.
It is possible to copy references from your library to a group.

You can also work from a group collection without the references appearing in your personal Zotero library.

Sharing files using groups

It is possible to share PDF files in a private group or a public, closed membership group. Modifications made to PDF files by a group member are visible by other members.

Of note, the size of files shared in a group counts towards the online storage space of the group owner (for Zotero, each user has 300MB of free online storage space; group files are counted as part of the space allocated to the group owner; additional storage space may be purchased).

Complete Instruction


Task for learning: Create a Group with Private Membership. Optionally, invite at least one member to the Group.

Review question:

All Review Questions


If you have questions, or if you run into problems that the course does not address, e-mail the University of Ottawa Library at


This online course is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Unless otherwise stated, it is attributed to Mish Boutet, and is based on handouts by Patrick Labelle (also under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

[How to Use Zotero online course updated: November 8, 2022]