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Mendeley: Beginner's Guide: Mendeley Desktop

Desktop Features

Mendeley Desktop allows you to:

  • Edit citations by simply clicking under or next to the citation field
  • Create folders and subfolders to organize your references
  • Tag and search within your library
  • Highlight and take notes within a PDF
  • Share your references
  • And more!

Sync Documents

The Sync function will synchronize your library data to all of your Mendeley Web, desktop, and mobile devices. You can sync your documents using the sync icon, or by pressing the 'F5' key on your keyboard.

To edit Sync options, select the first option in your Mendeley library: "All Documents".  Then select "Edit Settings" to choose to have all documents or specific folders synced to your Mendeley Web account.

PDF Viewer

Once PDF's have been added to your library, you can read them within Mendeley's PDF Viewer.  This function allows you to:

  1. Click on a PDF and open the document in a separate tab
  2. Highlight text and create notes 
  3. Store notes and annotations next to the citation detail tab for easy access
  4. Search within the text

Mendeley Desktop

Adding Citations to Mendeley

There are 4 main ways to add a reference to Mendeley Desktop:

  1. Click and drag: a file or folder into the Mendeley library.  Mendeley will automatically extract metadata if possible. Otherwise you can quickly make any necessary manual entries.
  2.  Create an entry manually: Choose File --> Add Entry Manually…   This will allow you to edit the citation information as needed.
  3.  Download from a database: Many databases will provide a button allowing you to download a list or single citations.  Mendeley will read files in .ris format.  Simply choose the Export to RIS Format or similar option, save the file, and click and drag the saved file to Mendeley Desktop.   
  4. You can use the Mendeley web importer button to save a citation (and sometimes a full-text document) to your Mendeley library. This button does not work with every database, but it's easy to install and worth trying as it is one of the quickest ways to save a citation.  The web importer just lives as button in your web browser:

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Major portions of this guide were created using the Mendeley LibGuide published by the University of Pittsburgh's University Library System. We thank Pitt for kindly granting us permission to reuse portions of their guide.