I just upgraded JabRef from 2.10 to 3.2 on OS X 10.11. JabRef 2.10 automatically formatted the BibTeX file on save, which was the number one reason I used JabRef. JabRef 3.2 does not do it, and I could not find any preference to enable this feature. Is this feature still available? If so, please could you explain me how to enable it?

  • Welcome to TeX.SX! This question is probably better directed towards the authors of JabRef!?
    – user30471
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 13:23
  • 1
    I think my question is not so different from several other questions on TeX.SX. Besides, there is no (easy to find) answer to this question on TeX.SX or elsewhere, so I think a public answer could be beneficial to others. Nevertheless, if this question does not comply with the policies of TeX.SX, I would be happy to delete it. Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 14:20
  • Related discussion: BibTeX format differs between machines.
    – koppor
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 12:52

1 Answer 1


The reason for this was a long discussion of the developers with users who have upgraded from 2.9.2 to 2.10. JabRef changed the serialization format and users had issues with their version control: There were users working with 2.9.2 and users working with 2.10. The bibliography was completely changed, even if there was only a minor change in one entry. After a long discussion (see https://github.com/JabRef/jabref/issues/116), the developers decided to keep the entries as they are. If an entry is modified, the entry is written as a whole.

Regarding your concrete issue, you have to do a bit cheating to JabRef to let it think that you modified all entries. Do following steps:

  1. Click "Search" in the menu
  2. Click "Set/clear/rename fields"
  3. Enter "cheat" as field name
  4. Select "All entries"
  5. Ensure that "Set fields" is selected
  6. Enter "cheat" as value in "Set fields"
  7. Click "OK"
  8. Click "Search" in the menu
  9. Click "Set/clear/rename fields"
  10. Ensure that "cheat" as field is set
  11. Select "Clear fields"
  12. Click "OK"
  13. Hit "CTRL+s" to save

All entries should have been rewritten now. Tested with the latest build available at http://builds.jabref.org/master/.

If you want to have this feature with a single click, please file an issue at https://github.com/JabRef/jabref/issues.

More information on sharing via JabRef is collected at http://www.jabref.org/faq/#sharing.

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    I just want to add that the most recent JabRef development version (builds.jabref.org/master) contains an option to reformat all entries on save (under Preferences, File). So the above work-around is no longer necessary. Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 13:46
  • That is good news. I tested today's build (i.e., JabRef-3.3dev--snapshot--2016-02-18--master--99f8905.jar) with Java 8u73 on OS X 10.11, but I get a NullPointerException in thread "AWT-EventQueue-0" when I try to open Preferences. I will try again with future builds. When do you expect to release JabRef 3.3? Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 11:17
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    @AlessandroRossini It looks like JabRef 3.3 will be released within the next two weeks. If unexpected problems occur, the release should at least be made in march. No absolute guarantees, though :)
    – joergl
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 11:27
  • Would it be possible to add an option to sort all entries on save (as in JabRef 2.10) in addition to the one to reformat them? Commented May 11, 2016 at 12:40
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    In the database properties you can specify the sort order of the entries in the .bib file. Commented May 12, 2016 at 16:39

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