Export Jabref Preferences to MAC


I use Jabref in two different Linux Machines through Dropbox. Both the machines
are in sync like preferences, look and feel etc.

I have a new MAC OS and I have installed Jabref. How do I get all the Jabref
preferences into MAC OS. Any information in this regard will be useful.


Just open the “Preferences” dialog (using “Options” -> “Preferences”), at the left bottom side you’ll find the possibility to “Export preferences” which then can be imported on your Mac.

This should work for most preferences, some aspects like file paths or the “lookAndFeel” might not be imported corrected.


Hi shanki,

Under Options -> Preferences in the menu, you can find buttons for exporting and importing preferences. This should be sufficient to get your preferences over to your new machine.


Hi Matthias and Joerg,

Thanks. I tried the same. However, all the preferences are not being seen in the Mac. For instance,
I have a format for generating Bibtex Key in Linux which works. However, those features are not
seen in MAC.

For your information, I use Jabref 2.10 in Linux (which is doing fine as there was some JAVA issue
installing 3.06 in Debian). However, I use the latest version (3.06) in MAC.

So, I do not know whether there is some compatibility issue between the preferences generated
in different JABREFs.


Hi Shanki,
yes, there were some changes between the different JabRef versions which also affect the import of preferences. Especially the BibTexKey-Patterns made some trouble (see for example https://github.com/JabRef/jabref/issues/2021).

Have you various complex keypattern settings? If not, the easiest approach is to just copy the setting manually.

If you don’t want to do it this way another approach would be to completely wipe out the stored settings on your Mac, install an old JabRef 2.10 version on the Mac, import the Linux settings, reinstall JabRef 3.6. But you’ll have to decide whether this is worth the effort :wink:


Hi Matthias,

Thanks for your detailed reply and the link. I think, I found a simpler solution for the problem.

I installed JABREF 3.6 in linux and imported the JABREF 2.10 preferences in the updated
(3.6) version. Even in Linux, Jabref 3.6 does not seem to recognize the preferences.
I then installed Jabref 3.7 in Linux which automatically took all the preferences. I then exported
these preferences.

I then installed Jabref 3.7 in MAC and imported the preferences which it took.

Now, I am trying to give a symbolic link of the Linux preferences to MAC preferences
so that I do not have to keep exporting and importing the preferences. Can you
tell where are the preferences files located in MAC?


Hi Shanki,

normally JabRef stores the preferences in the registry (at least on Windows, no idea where the settings are stored for MAC by default). But under “Preferences -> General” you can enable the option “Load and Save preferences from/to jabref.xml” which generates a jabref.xml file (I think) in the same directory as the JabRef.jar, which contains all the preferences. You can then sync this file across your devices.

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Hi Tobias and Matthias,

Thanks. I have one more problem:

In Linux, all the PDF files of articles are under /home/shanki/References/Articles/

In MAC, using dropbox and softlink, all my files are under /Users/shanki/References/Articles

How to tell JABREF that /home/shanki and /Users/shanki are $HOME?

I tried $HOME in MAC, JABREF refuse to accept it.

Thanks, in advance.

Quick guess without the abilitiy to actually try it: ~/References/Articles could do the trick (as ~ used in a shell refers to the the user home in linux (and hopefully also Mac OS X :wink:)

Another option would be to define not only a Main file directory in the preferences, but also a database specific one (using the File -> Database Properties dialog): Main file directory points to /home/shanki/References/Articles/ and the database specific points to /Users/shanki/References/Articles
JabRef will try to access the database specific folder first, and if it is not successful the main directory will be used.


Thanks for your reply and apologise for the delay.

I did try all the combinations, however, none of them work. I tried to
include $HOME/References/Articles under Database properties.
JABREF accepts this, however, when I open PDF files, it says
"unable to open the link". It seems JABREF does not understand $HOME.

I thought, $HOME refers to home directory in any unix based OS.
Is there a way to make JABREF understand this?
[I am using JABREF 3.8.2 both in Debian and MAC OS.]