I'm not sure if this is a proper question for this site. But since TeX and bibliographic citations are closely linked, I'll go ahead.

I have just started using BibDesk and "I like it" is an understatement. So far, the most important BibDesk feature I'm using now is the ability to link the bibliographic entries with the actual PDF file in my computer. And when I move that file to a different folder, the BibDesk link follows it around, too.

What is a BibDesk equivalent for Windows? I hope there is one that has at least almost the same features and also that feature I mentioned above.

4 Answers 4



From Mendeley website:

Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.

  • Automatically generate bibliographies
  • Collaborate easily with other researchers online
  • Easily import papers from other research software
  • Find relevant papers based on what you’re reading
  • Access your papers from anywhere online
  • Read papers on the go, with our new iPhone app

From Alternative.to:

Mendeley helps manage and share academic knowledge: Mendeley Desktop is free academic software (Windows, Mac, Linux) for organizing & sharing research papers and generating bibliographies with 1GB of free online storage to automatically back up and synchronize your library across desktop, web and mobile. Mendeley Web is a free research network which lets you manage research papers online, discover trends & connect to like-minded academics. Mendeley tracks usage data on over 40 million research papers in real-time, thus creating a network of people using and sharing millions of scholarly articles - helping to shift research into the 21st century world of collaboration and openness. Mendeley is engendering a revolution in the way research is conducted and disseminated, changing the face of science.

With Mendeley you can view and annotate PDF files. The PDF exported along with the comments can be readily viewed in Adobe's Reader.

  • 7
    I think you should perhaps say a little about the strengths of mendeley. Or make this answer community wiki so that other people can add that information. I think mendeley is a good option, but this is not a good answer.
    – Seamus
    Commented Jan 26, 2011 at 8:39
  • 1
    Does it works with TexLive? Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 10:45
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    Could you accept the answer below @Kit? JabRef is far more similar to BibDesk than Mendeley.
    – Guillochon
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 15:37

JabRef is an open-source, cross-platform BibTeX reference manager with much of the same functionality as Bibdesk. In particular, it can download PDFs and link the bibliographic entry with the downloaded PDF (this functionality is contained in the "File" field of the "General" tab of the BibTeX entry editor). enter image description here

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    @las3rjock: It would be great if you add some words about JabRef, for example why you would recommend it. Following the link would be sufficient, however it's just not very convenient for readers and doesn't improve the quality of this site.
    – Stefan Kottwitz
    Commented Jan 22, 2011 at 18:25
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    With JabRef I especially like the "Auto"-Button for files. If you keep PDF-copies of your references in a folder, with filenames matching the BibTeX-key in your database, JabRef automatically picks them up...
    – Habi
    Commented Jan 26, 2011 at 11:06
  • @Habi: Does JabRef also follow the PDF even when it is moved to another folder after linking?
    – Kit
    Commented Jan 27, 2011 at 3:43
  • @Kit: I don't think so. But I keep all my PDFs in one single folder, which can be changed in the preferences of JabRef, so it's not an issue for me.
    – Habi
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 10:33
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    @Kit: No, AFAIK the file path is stored in the bibtex entry, so it does not "know", if the file is moved. However, you can specify a directory which contains all the PDFs and if you move that to another location, you should be able to just change the path once for the whole bibtex database. Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 19:17

I use Zotero, which is a powerful open source Firefox plugin that keeps a database of your references, including local copies of PDF files and websites. It can export references to different formats, including BibTeX.

  • 1
    +1 for zotero, you may want to have a look at a workflow that invests in Zotero + biblatex+ biber+ + text editor that supports biber` (I use TexStudio) here.
    – doctorate
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 12:10
  • I'd like to throw my weight behind Zotero. It is also syncable across computers and provides a built-in meta data grabber to firefox, or other browsers, for easily grabbing references as one searches databases. A drawback: can't control the filecode format for BibTex files, and the default is long: author_titlefirstword_year.
    – k-dubs
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 17:57

You may consider Bibfilex. It allows to add any number of attachments (pdf or anything else) to each BibTex item, zipped and stored in a folder with the same name of the file in use. If you move the file and the folder together, everything works fine. Anyway, I don't know if it has the other functionalities of BibDesk you may looking for.

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