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Course & Subject Guides

Mendeley @ Pitt: Mendeley Desktop

Desktop Features

Mendeley Desktop allows you to:

  • Edit citations by simply clicking under or next to the citation field
  • Create folders and subfolders to organize your references
  • Tag and search within your library
  • Watch folders on your computer for new content
  • Share your references
  • Explore similiar research with Mendeley Suggest

Backing Up Your Mendeley Collection

As with any computer or files you use, you should be backing up your Mendeley collection periodically.

In Mendeley Desktop:

  1. Click 'Help' in the menu bar.
  2. Select 'Create Backup'.
  3. Specify where you wish to save your backup files.  The backup will be created and saved in the selected location.

Please note: this backup should be stored in your local drive. If you try to recover this backup in a future from Mendeley Desktop and the folder is linked to a cloud-based drive or folder, you may experience serious database recovery issues.

Manual backup:

You can also create a backup manually, which is only advised in the case that you cannot access Mendeley Desktop.

Locate your database. Where your database files are stored varies from operating system to operating system. In order to locate yours, please follow the corresponding value:

  • Windows: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Mendeley Ltd.\Mendeley Desktop\
  • Mac OS X: /Users/<Your username>/Library/Application Support/Mendeley Desktop/
  • Linux:~/.local/share/data/Mendeley Ltd./Mendeley Desktop/

Copy this entire folder to somewhere safe. You can copy this to another computer, a USB stick, or another folder on your computer for safe-keeping.

Mendeley Desktop

Adding Citations to Mendeley

There are 3 main ways to add a reference to Mendeley Desktop:

  1. Click and drag: a file or folder into the Mendeley library.  Mendeley will automatically extract metadata.
  2. Create an entry manually: Choose File --> Add Entry Manually…   This will allow you to edit the citation information as needed.
  3. Download from a database or PittCat: Many databases will provide a button allowing you to download a list or single citations.  Mendeley will read files in .ris format.  Simply choose the Export to RIS Format or similar option, save the file, and click and drag the saved file to Mendeley Desktop.  Other options that will work include: EndNoteZotero, or BibTeX. Citations formatted for those software packages will also work with Mendeley.

Using Mendeley Desktop

PDF Viewer

Once PDF's have been added to your library, you can read them within Mendeley's PDF Viewer.  This function allows you to:

  1. Click on a PDF and open the document in a separate tab
  2. Highlight text and create notes 
  3. Store notes and annotations next to the citation detail tab for easy access
  4. Search within the text

Sync Your Library

The Sync function will synchronize your library data to all of your Mendeley Web, desktop, and mobile devices.

To edit Sync options, select the first option in your Mendeley library: "All Documents".  Then select "Edit Settings" to choose to have all documents or specific folders synced to your Mendeley Web account.


Find citation information

When you import citations from either a PDF or directly from a database, sometimes the full citation information is not imported to your library. You can easily update your citation information by:

  • Entering the DOI (digital object idenifier) number to the Document Details screen
  • Select the magnifying glass image next to the DOI to search the web for citation information

"Unpublished Work" setting

The library of citations is crowd-sourced. What this means is that all the citations added to your personal Mendeley library are also added to the database of citations that Mendeley shares with everyone. This is what drives the discovery aspect of Mendeley--you can find new research based on what your colleagues and other scholars have added to their libraries. An important note: all citations are anonymized, so your citations will not be tied to your name or account in

There may be times when you don't want a citation in your personal Mendeley library to be added to the crowd-sourced library. For example, this could be unpublished papers, personal manuscripts, or class notes. To keep these citations private, be sure to check the "Unpublished work" button at the bottom of the document details form. For more information, follow this link.