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Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network. Make your own fully-searchable library in seconds, cite as you write, and read and annotate your PDFs on any device.

Add PDFs already on your device

PDF file on the left with an arrow from it to the empty space in the middle of the Mendeley desktop screen. Text says "drag pdf to the empty space in the middle of mendeley"

Method One - Drag and Drop:  You can drag and drop PDFs into your library and Mendeley will extract the document details (bibliographic data). Simply have the Mendeley Desktop window be small enough that you can find the file you want to add, grab it with your cursor, and drag it into the empty space in the middle of the Mendeley progaram.  You can also drag entire folders into this space.

Method Two - use the file menu, or the 'Add files' option and browse to the PDFs or folders you want to add.

When adding any files, double check the document details (on the right side of the screen when you select a document) as it can be incorrect.  Simply click in the field that is incorrect and make your corrections

Import files

Mendeley can easily import references from other reference management softwar (EndNote, Zotero and similar programs) or from files of citation lists saved from databases. 

Step 1: Export your files from the other software into a Research Information Systems (.ris), BibTex (.bib), EndNote XML (.xml), or Zotero Library (zotero.sqlite) format.

Step 2: Open Mendeley and create a folder for the documents you want to import.

Step 3: Highlight your folder and click on "Add Files" icon.

Step 3: Find the location of your previously exported file and select it.

Your documents will be imported into the folder you had highlighted.

Repeat these steps for each file you need to import to Mendeley.

Other options

Search the Mendeley Catalog.  

  • From, select the 'papers' tab and search for articles by subject.  Once you find an article you want to add, click the green 'save reference to library' button.
  • From Mendeley Desktop, click the 'literature search' option on the top of the left column. Input your search terms.

Add Entry Manually is always an option.  Simply select this from the "add files" or "File" menu.

Use the Web Importer. For a selected number of sites, mostly in the sciences, the Mendeley web importer seamlessly pulls content into the web version of your library.  Syncing your library then move the reference to the desktop version.

Watched Folder.  Set your Mendeley Preferences to automatically add new PDFs that were saved to a specific folder.  

  1. Go to Tools ->Options ->Watched Folders
  2. select the folder you want to use
  3. always save your PDFs to that folder
  4. New PDFS will be imported the next time you open Mendeley. 

Video Tutorial