Importing Your Library from Mendeley

This guide explains how to transfer your Mendeley library into ReadCube Papers. We are still working on a direct importer into our desktop app, but for now, you can transfer your Mendeley library from the web or desktop app. 

Some caveats before we start:

  • Mendeley does not export favorites. Unfortunately, this means all the articles set as favorites will be lost when your files come over.
  • Mendeley exports Author Keywords as Tags so at first import you may have additional tags from the ones you set. If you want these deleted simply reach out to us at
  • Mendeley does not allow for the export of your folders. As a workaround, you can always export your folders one by one and import them manually into lists. 

Exporting Metadata

First, if you don’t already have it installed, you’re going to want to download the Papers desktop app to your computer (Mac/Windows). There are two parts to getting your information out of Mendeley and into ReadCube Papers. We’ll start by exporting your metadata first.

Select all your references from My Documents. Don’t worry about grabbing the PDFs we will get them a bit later. Once your references are selected right-click to pull up the menu and choose Export. A dialogue box will appear where you can name the collection and save it to your computer. We recommend keeping the file name simple as My Collection and saving it to your desktop.

You can also choose what type of file to save your library. Our recommendation is to save the file as a .bib or .ris file. The .ris file is more commonly used for transferring information and includes more fields that aren’t necessarily for writing a paper. You can use .ris if most of your library consists of references without any PDFs attached. Both will transfer traditional metadata (like the DOI, title, authors, etc.) but the .bib file type may not transfer custom fields that you may have created in Mendeley.

Download Your PDFs

Now that you have all the metadata ready to import we need to do one more step which is grabbing your PDFs. Neither .bib or .ris files can download the full-text so we have to manually extract those PDFs out of Mendeley.

File Organizer Option

If you set up File Organizer for your Mendeley library then all of your PDFs are already downloaded to your computer. To find where Mendeley is storing those PDFs you can head to Mendeley Desktop > File Organizer and you will be able to see the file folder path.

The advantages of having the File Organizer set up allow you easily keep your folder structure intact. Since the File Organizer can download the PDFs into subfolders you don’t have to worry about recreating these in ReadCube Papers.

While this is the easier method since your PDFs are already out of Mendeley if you have a large folder structure you can be dealing with multiple folders that will take up storage on your computer.

Manual Download

If you don’t have the file organizer set up you will have to manually transfer your PDFs from Mendeley into ReadCube Papers. The easiest way to grab all the PDFs in your library is to arrange and sort your library so your references are files first.

Mendeley sort order

Once sorted you will then highlight all the references with files attached. Right-click and choose to Export PDF(s) with Annotations.

Mendeley export PDF selection

Choose a place to save the PDFs – we recommend creating a folder on your desktop and save them there.

Mendeley PDF export window pane

Now you’re ready for the transfer.

Transferring Your Data

Although it took a few steps to get here, the good news is that moving all your data in Papers is the easy part! We’ll start with moving over you .ris/.bib file. Simply drag and drop that file into Papers and your reference metadata will begin to populate. Next, open the folder that holds all the PDFs you export and drag those into Papers.

During the PDF transfer, the files will import first. Then Papers will begin resolving each PDF individually so if the metadata does not immediately appear please allow time to sync. Papers is going through each article’s metadata and matching it against the information from the .bib/.ris file to find and match any duplicates. Once it has deduplicated any files it will then begin looking for the metadata on the remaining articles and auto-resolve the metadata.

If you get stuck, check out some of our common transfer FAQs for Mendeley, or reach out to us for help

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