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Free Zotero Alternatives

The best free alternative to Zotero is Obsidian. It's not free, so if you're looking for a free alternative, you could try Mendeley or Qiqqa. If that doesn't suit you, our users have ranked more than 50 alternatives to Zotero and many of them is free so hopefully you can find a suitable replacement. Other interesting free alternatives to Zotero are Polar, JabRef, TheBrain and Paperwork.

Zotero alternatives are mainly Research Managers but may also be Note-taking Tools or Document Managers. Filter by these if you want a narrower list of alternatives or looking for a specific functionality of Zotero.
This page was last updated May 21, 2022
Zotero iconZotero
  341
  • FreemiumOpen Source
  • Mac
  • Windows
  • Linux
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Google Chrome
  • Safari
  • Microsoft Office Word
  • Google Drive - Docs
  • LibreOffice
  • Firefox

Zotero is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, share research and cite your research sources directly in...

Learn more about Zotero

  1. Powerful knowledge base that works on top of a local folder of plain text Markdown files.

    Screenshot
  2. Mendeley helps manage and share academic knowledge: Mendeley Desktop is free academic software (Windows, Mac, Linux) for organizing and sharing research papers and generating bibliographies with 1GB of free online storage to automatically back up and synchronize your library...

    Generate Bibliographies in Word and OpenOffice
    Mendeley vs Zotero opinions
    Most users think Mendeley is a great alternative to Zotero.
    JohnFastman

    Mendeley differs from Zotero like this: 1) It is not open source, but it's still free (as in beer); 2) it has better features for annotating pdf files; 3) It emphasizes connections between academics working in similar areas, which helps in discovery of references. Zotero doesn't do that. However, Zotero is better at extracting meta data from pdf files and has the superior browser plugin.

    Positive comment over 5 years ago
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    24


  3. Qiqqa is a free research and reference manager. Search for, read and annotate your PDFs. Then review your work, write up and create bibliographies instantly.

    Screenshot
    Qiqqa vs Zotero opinions
    Most users think Qiqqa is a great alternative to Zotero.
    phytographer

    Qiqqa does not have:

    1. Chrome connector for gathering citations
    2. Google Docs integration
    3. LibreOffice Integration
    Negative comment over 1 year ago
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    2

    They both manage PDFs and allow you to do reference management and bilbiographies.

    Positive comment over 6 years ago
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    1
    altenativeto

    The open source transparency and the WebDav sync make Zotero a better option for Users with a certain degree of Data control/ privacy needs.

    Negative comment over 2 years ago
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    -2
  4. Polar is a powerful desktop app for managing all your web content, books, and notes. Polar keeps all your content in one place, supports tagging, annotation, highlighting and keeps track of your reading progress.

    Captured HTML content available for offline viewing at any time.
    Most users think Polar is a great alternative to Zotero.
  5. JabRef icon

    JabRef

    • FreeOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • Firefox
    • Google Chrome
    • Vivaldi Browser
    • Microsoft Edge

    Bibliography reference manager. The native file format used by JabRef is BibTeX, the standard LaTeX bibliography format.

    Screenshot
    JabRef vs Zotero opinions
    Almost everyone thinks JabRef is a great alternative to Zotero.

    Open source, clean, robust. Works best with BibTex/Latex environment.

    Positive comment over 1 year ago
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    2


  6. TheBrain icon

    TheBrain

    • FreemiumProprietary
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Online
    • Android
    • iPhone
    • Android Tablet
    • iPad

    TheBrain helps you organize all your Web pages, contacts, documents, emails and files in a context-driven visual map.

    Screenshot
    TheBrain vs Zotero opinions
    pros, cons and recent comments

    TheBrain is a non-linear visual mapping tool. It is not first and foremost a reference manager. I own it, and use it, and it's never struck me as a good alternative to Zotero.

    Negative comment over 1 year ago
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    1
    InfinitlyZero

    Simply not a viable alternative.

    Negative comment over 1 year ago
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    1
  7. Paperwork is a personal document manager for scanned documents (and PDFs).

    Screenshot
  8. BibSonomy is a system for sharing bookmarks and lists of literature (BibTex format).

    Screenshot
  9. A handy, intuitive reference-managing tool. Citavi researches in over 4800 databases and catalogs, organizes and structures your literature, references, quotes and idea collections and assists you with your documentation or publication.

    Simple Navigation on the left, the editing pane in the middle, preview on the right (for PDF and text documents, images, Web pages, etc.).   All You Need You can add ratings, quotations, comments, thoughts, tasks, locations, and links to other references and files. Citavi is your complete toolbox for academic writing.
    Citavi vs Zotero opinions
    pros, cons and recent comments
    altenativeto

    It is sadly unstable software. It has of course more professional functions than zotero but also problems with stability. For Example: when I had my computer in standby, I have to restart the software.

    Negative comment 11 months ago
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    0
  10. ZoteroBib icon

    ZoteroBib

    • FreeOpen Source
    • Online

    Powered by the same technology behind Zotero, ZoteroBib lets you seamlessly add items from across the web — using Zotero’s unmatched metadata extraction abilities — and generate bibliographies in more than 9,000 citation styles.

    Screenshot
Showing 10 of 43 alternatives