Skip to Main Content
Michigan State University


Reference Management Tool

Installing Zotero 5.0 and the Zotero browser connector

Start at: Zotero Downloads

1. Install Zotero

Go to Zotero download page and click the blue Download button on the left to install Zotero

You will be prompted to save a file. Save it to your computer.
Find the saved file and double-click to install Zotero

2. Install the Browser Connector

Make sure to use the browser you plan to use when using Zotero in the future. Return to the Zotero download page. 

Click the blue Install Connector button on the right to install the Zotero connector for your browser.

A box may appear at the top of the web page asking you to allow the installation. Click “Allow.” Then click the “Install Now” button in the Software Installation pop-up window. After the installation has completed you will need to restart your browser.

If you use Google Chrome as your browser, note that you cannot be signed into your MSU Google account when trying to install the Zotero Browser Connector for Chrome, as this ability does not fall within MSU's Google access.  You should be able to install the connector when not signed into any Google account or when signed into a personal Google account as desired.

Checking Your Installations

1. Open Zotero by double-clicking the Zotero desktop icon. Open your browser. Go to Verify that an icon resembling a sheet of paper is visible on the right of the address bar in the browser toolbar.



2. Verify that the Word plugin is installed by opening a Word  document and looking for the Zotero tab in Word for Windows. In Word for Mac, it may be under the AppleScripts menu (the manuscript icon to the right of the Help menu).

Setting up Zotero for MSU Library users

This section provides recommendations and accompanying instructions to set up Zotero for optimal performance with MSU Libraries resources. 

1.  Create a account and enable syncing

A.  Some additional features of Zotero are only available online through  This includes syncing, groups (collaboration), posting in the support forums, and sharing your library online.  Take advantage of these features by creating a free account.  

The URL to register is

B.  The sync, or synchronization feature, uses Zotero's cloud storage to back-up your library (free up to 300 MB) and make it accessible from multiple computers.  This is a very useful feature if you use both a computer in your office on campus and a laptop that you use at home and in the library.  You can install Zotero on both machines and sync your accounts.  You can also access your library online at from any computer, regardless of whether or not it has the Zotero application installed.

After registering with, open Zotero and then open the Zotero Preferences menu (click on Edit, then choose Preferences).  Click on the Sync tab and enter your username and password.

screenshot of sync setup in Zotero preferences menu


2.  Configure Library Lookup for MSU Full-Text Access

The Library Lookup (OpenURL) feature in Zotero allows you to connect to the FindText@MSU full text linking tool to automatically search the MSU Libraries electronic holdings and find the full text of an item in your Zotero library that is available only by library subscription.

Screenshot of Library Lookup feature in Zotero

To configure Library Lookup for MSU, follow these steps:

  1. Click on Edit in Zotero.
  2. Click on Preferences.
  3. Go to the Advanced tab in the Preferences pop-up window.
  4. Look for the OpenURL section.  Type in the resolver:
    • If you are on campus, click the Search for resolvers button. This should retrieve the URL listed above and save some typing. If it does not, follow the instructions above to manually add the URL.
  5. Click OK to close out of the Preferences window.

Zotero openURL or library lookup setting

This completes the configuration.  To use the Library Lookup feature, select an item in your library and click on the Locate button (green arrow icon) for options to find and view the item.  Choose Library Lookup and a FindText@MSU window will open.

Note: This method may not automatically download full text PDFs.  You may have to download available PDFs separately if desired.

A complete list of OpenURL resolvers available at other institutions is posted at

3.  Set Default Citation Style

Zotero lets you create Quick Copy bibliographies by highlighting references in the Zotero pane and dragging them into any text field.  To set up the preferred citation style for these bibliographies click on the gear icon, choose the Preference menu, and then choose the Export tab.  From here, there is a drop down menu to set your preferred citation style.

Don't see your preferred style?  Zotero comes preloaded with 15 of the most commonly used citation styles.  Many more styles are available for download from the Zotero Style Repository.

4.  Consider Disabling Automatic Attachments and Tags

Attachments are files that are associated with the items in your library.  This includes notes, webpage snapshots, and full-text files.  This is what an item with attachments looks like:

screenshot of item with attachment

The default setting is for Zotero to add attachments automatically, such as a webpage snapshot and the full text PDF if available.  This can be convenient, but if you want to save on Zotero server storage space then you should consider disabling this feature.  You can still selectively choose when to attach a PDF by adding attachments manually.

Tags allow you to categorize and sort items by associating relevant keywords with items in your library.  If you are importing an item from a library catalog or database that includes subject classification information, Zotero will detect this and import these classifications as tags.  Many people prefer to set up customized invidual tags rather than using library subject classifications when sorting through their Zotero libraries.  Consider disabling automatic tags to keep your library clutter free.

You can disable automatic attachments and tags by selecting Tools and then Options, and clicking on the General tab of the Preferences menu.  Under the Miscellaneous heading, uncheck "Automatically take snapshots when creating items from web pages", "Automatically attach associated PDFs and other files when saving items", and Automatically tag items with keywords and subject headings."

5. Disable Proxy Redirection

The default setting (on) interferes with downloading from some library databases.

Open your web browser. Right-click the Z icon in your browser bar.

Select “Options”.

Select “Proxies” on the window that appears. Uncheck “Enable proxy redirection”.