Syncing your Papers library across computers

You can register Papers on more than one computer, as long as you are the main user. At this time, Papers cannot officially be synced across different computers, but it is a much needed feature we are working on.

However, there are a few work-around options that will allow you to sync your library with different computers. Before proceeding with any of these options there are a few things to take careful note of:

  • Any of these methods are not officially supported because they involve a third party service or using an external hard drive. It is not possible to support these methods because we cannot have control over how a third party service works or how service might change in the future, and how this might affect your library files. We cannot take responsibility for any possible loss of data that can result from using these methods; we recommend frequent back-ups to avoid losing important information.

  • If you decide to sync your library with another computer, it is especially important to regularly backup your library files. If for whatever reason your library becomes corrupted, you can restore your library by replacing the corrupted library file with the most recent uncorrupted version. Without frequent back-ups, we might not be able to help recover your library.

Syncing your library with Dropbox

If you use Dropbox, you can share your library across two different computers. However, another warning is necessary before setting this up: if you use Dropbox it is crucial you never allow Papers or Citations to be open on both computers at the same time. To be safe, do not have both computer turned on at the same time; if both computers are writing to the Papers library folder, which lives in Dropbox, corruption is almost sure to happen.

  • Access your options menu by going to Papers -> Options


  • Click on the Library tab

  • At the top of the menu, your PDF library location is listed. To change your Papers Library location and move it to Dropbox, click on "Browse"

  • Select your Dropbox folder, and select the sub folder within Dropbox you want your Papers Library to be in, if any.

  • Click OK. Papers will give you a warning that Papers will have to process your library and will likely need to be restarted for the changes to take effect. If you have previously backed up your library, you can go ahead and click on OK.

  • After restarting the application, and whenever you are ready to move to your second computer, turn off the computer on which you just changed your library location.

  • Turn on your second computer.

  • Start Papers, go to Options again

  • Click on the library tab, and click on "Browse"

  • Locate your Papers library folder in Dropbox. As an example, I created a sub folder for my Dropbox called "PfW library". I previously saved my Papers Library inside this folder. Now, I can select the "Papers" folder to indicate to Papers that this is the location of the library to use.


  • Click on OK. After restarting the application, you should see the library from your first computer show up.

  • One last important thing to keep in mind: Before turning off your computer, make sure Dropbox is finished syncing so all changes Papers made to the database and library have uploaded to Dropbox successfully. If you turn off the computer in the middle of the sync, and you turn on your other computer and Papers try to access the database from there, this might overwrite the library to an earlier version or it can cause your library to become corrupted (which can only be fixed by replacing it with a backed up version).

Syncing your Library by using an external hard drive

The process of syncing your library using an external hard drive or a flash drive is the same as using Dropbox. Except that instead of making sure Dropbox is finished syncing before turning off your computer, you need to make sure Papers is finished writing to your hard drive before ejecting it. In addition, eject the hard drive after you close the application.