Skip to Main Content
Research Guides@Tufts

Mendeley: The Basics

Mendeley is a free reference manager that can help organize your research by generating bibliographies, collaborating easily with other researchers online and by discovering the latest research.

Hirsh Library Cannot Provide Support for Mendeley

This guide is no longer be updated as of December 2021.

We recommend transferring your references to EndNote or Zotero, which we do support.

Viewing and Editing References

When you click on a reference in Mendeley Desktop, the details for that reference will be displayed in the right-hand panel.  From this panel, you can edit any field (Title, Author, Tags, etc.) or attach a file to the reference.  Whenever you import new references into Mendeley, it is a good idea to review these details to ensure the information is correct. 

Click the Notes tab at the top of the panel to add notes and view annotations on attached documents.  You can search the notes fields by selecting Notes from the dropdown menu in the search box in the upper right-hand corner of Mendeley Desktop.

Reference panel in Mendeley

Reference Panel

Creating Folders and Subfolders

Folders are displayed in the left-hand panel of your Mendeley library.  Folders are used to categorize and organize references. Certain folders are always present in your Mendeley library:

  • All Documents: All references in your library.
  • Recently Added: References recently added to your library will remain in this folder for 3 weeks.
  • Recently Read: PDF files that you have recently opened.
  • Favorites: References that you have starred.
  • Needs Review: Imported references that require attention.  References in this folder will automatically be removed once they have been reviewed.
  • My Publications: Add references that you have authored in this folder.  References in this folder will be displayed in your online Mendeley profile.
  • Unsorted: References not in a folder.

Create your own folders and subfolders to organize your references.  To do so, click Create Folder... in the left-hand panel of your Mendeley library.  To create a subfolder, right-click on the folder to which you wish to add a subfolder and select New Folder.

Back to top

Organizing References

Adding References to a Folder

  • Select the reference you wish to move.  Use the Ctrl, Command or Shift keys to highlight multiple references.
  • Drag the references to a folder.

Removing References from a Folder

  • Select the reference you wish to move.  Use the Ctrl, Command or Shift keys to highlight multiple references.
  • Right-click and select Remove from Folder.
  • The references will be removed from the folder.  They will not be deleted from your library.

Deleting References from a Library

  • Select the reference you wish to move.  Use the Ctrl or Shift keys to highlight multiple references.
  • Drag and drop the references to the All Deleted Documents folder under Trash in the left-hand panel of your Mendeley library.  Alternatively, right-click and select Delete Documents.
  • To remove references from the All Deleted Documents folder, drag and drop the references to another folder, or right-click and select Restore Documents.
  • To permanently delete references from your library, right-click on the All Deleted Documents folder and select Empty Trash.  Alternatively, choose File > Empty Trash from the menu bar.

Back to top

Removing Duplicates

To check for duplicate references in your Mendeley library, select All Documents in the left-hand panel.  Then, select Tools > Check for Duplicates from the menu bar.

A list of duplicate references will be displayed.  Review the references and choose the details that you would like to keep from each reference by selecting the check box next to each field.  Once you have reviewed all the field, click the Merge Documents button.

Attaching and Annotating PDFs

Attaching Documents

There are a few ways in which a document can be attached to a reference in your Mendeley library:

  • Create reference from PDF: If you create a reference by dragging and dropping a PDF into Mendeley, or via Add Files, then the PDF will automatically be attached to the reference in your library.
  • Mendeley Web Importer: When you use the web importer to add references to your library, PDFs for articles that are freely available (for example from an open access journal) will automatically be downloaded and attached to the reference.
  • Manually: You can manually attach files, including PDFs, Word documents or images, to references.  In your Mendeley Desktop library, select the reference to which you wish to attach a file.  In the reference details panel on the right side of your library, scroll to the Files field and click Add Files.

Annotating PDFs

You can read and annotate PDF documents in Mendeley on your computer, mobile device, or online (see Additional Topics for more information on Mendeley Web and apps). 

Once a PDF has been attached to a reference, a PDF icon will appear next to that reference, and in the Files field of the reference details.  Click this icon to open the article in the Mendeley PDF reader, where you can read, highlight and add notes to the file. 

Reference with PDF attached

PDF Attached

Mendeley PDF reader

Mendeley Desktop PDF Reader

Need Help?

Ask Us

Desk Hours: M-F 7:45am-5pm