Sync annotations and PDFs of selected entries to [Android] device

Hi all,

I had not used JabRef for a while. I’m happy to see it has moved to Github.

Currently I am a user of Mendeley and I have the following workflow. I have a folder within Mendeley (desktop) that I keep synced with the cloud (including PDFs). Then I read these PDFs from my Android device (with Mendeley app installed). I annotate these PDFs with Mendeley built-in viewer, and sync the annotations back and forth between the device and my PC.

Is it possible to reproduce this workflow (or something similar) with Jabref (myabe + other tools)?

Yes, such a workflow is possible with JabRef although you need combine a few tools for that.

First of all, you need to put all the pdf’s you want to sync to a separate folder. You can do this by hand (I think, in 4.0 we added a feature that allows to copy all the attached files of selected entries to a new folder) or use the recently added file directory pattern to sort them automatically (for example, \begin{readstatus}\format[RemoveBrackets]{\readstatus}\end{readstatus} should create different folders for skimmed, read and toRead but you can also use a different field/criteria).

Now you use a sync tool of your preference (OneDrive, Google drive, dropbox) to sync this folder with your android. There you can use whatever pdf editor you want to annotate the pdf.
Note that with Jabref 4.0 also a rudimentary pdf viewer is included and file annotation can be viewed in a new tab in the entry editor.

@tobiasdiez That sounds good. However, with Mendeley, I can easily search the synced PDFs in the device (using Mendeley app). Is there a similar Android app that I can use to search through the synced PDFs from JabRef?

@tobiasdiez Also, where do I configure JabRef to automatically organize PDFs into directories?

I only use Moon Reader for reading on my Android tablet and there you don’t have a fulltext search. But probably there exists an app that also allows you to search the file contents.

I suspect the directory pattern can be specified in the preferences. Not sure where exactly. Maybe @Siedlerchr can help. I think you also need at least Jabref 4.0 beta for this feature.


you find the settings for the Directory pattern together with the File pattern in Settings -> Import


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Can you help me create a directory pattern? I want to move only the files with the sync tag to a specific directory, say /home/user/Dropbox/JabRef/. How do I do it?

I did this to create two directories in my jabref library:


So items with the printed flag should go one directory, and others should go another directory. Now how do I enforce this reorganization of files?

Oh, if I have multiple files associated with an entry in my database, I want to only sync the PDFs. Is this possible?

You can use the “Rename associated files” feature under Quality -> Cleanup. I’m not aware that JabRef allows you to specify the kind of files that are moved, sorry.

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Now I feel foolish because I have been using it for a year so far and don’t know Android app supports annotations at all before! Back then I was using this tool to edit pdf in order to write down all the annotations, so they would be readable from all devices. That’s was my way of thinking, and this tool is even paid!