Which to choose? Zotero Standalone vs. Firefox

Zotero Workshops are receiving high attendance rates at the Graduate Center library. We like to have students arrive with their laptops so that they may choose the web browser and Zotero version that is right for them. While most have a preference to use either Firefox, Chrome, or Safari, many are not certain about whether to use Zotero Standalone (ZSA) or Zotero for Firefox (ZFF). To help aid in this dilemma, this post attempts to dispel the concern from moderate to light. Ultimately, although there are slight differences, the choice is up to the user.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Database export and translation both work with either ZSA or ZFF.
  • Firefox is the primary platform for Zotero (where they do their business), not Safari or Chrome.
  • If (ZSA) is open, the (ZFF)-Firefox-browser-based translator may connect to the Standalone app – I’ve tried this on a number of machines and get different results.
  • It is best to keep only one version of Zotero open at a time.

Differences in the preferences tabs below ZSA first/left, ZFF second/right:

  • ZSA does not have the option to open PDF files automatically when in Firefox (because it is not in Firefox).
  • ZSA does not have the option of downloading BibTex/RIS/Refer files (using the export function from databases) – BUT IT WILL DO THIS ANYWAY.
  • ZSA also does not have the same right-click functionality on a PDF file or webpage as it does when on ZFF.

Use your judgement based on:

  • Browser choice – Do you prefer Firefox? Chrome? or Safari?
    • ZSA will work with any of these browsers; ZFF will work only in Firefox.
  • Device choice – Do you use your laptop or school desktop computer as your primary device?
    • Standalone is pre-installed on most campus computers (all of the PCs in the GC library have Standalone pre-installed).
    • ZFF would have to be manually downloaded on GC campus computers
  • Comfort level and aesthetic choice
    • ZSA has a default screen app tab, whereas ZFF has the app tab functionality which can be chosen in the preferences screen

It is likely that you will use Standalone, since many people in 2016 are using Chrome (differently than years ago), and MAC users default to Safari. Either way, I recommend having a working knowledge of each version, and then choosing one to use as a base.

If you have more questions, please feel free to sign up for a Zotero on your Laptop workshop or ask for a one-on-one appointment with your liaison librarian.

About the Author

Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz is an Assistant Professor and Head of Reference at the Graduate Center Library.