Zotero iOS Shortcuts: Better BibTeX Citation Keys

This is the long awaited iOS Shortcut for Zotero to extract Better BibTeX citation keys for Pandoc. I know a fair few people have been waiting on this, apologies it has taken so long to post. If you need more detail, read on, otherwise the shortcut can be downloaded below.

Zotero and Better BibTeX

There are a couple simple but important reasons I use Zotero, and the standard BibTeX support is not one of them. The web API allows me to build these shortcuts, but more importantly Zotero is an antidote to the closed and proprietary reference management systems of big academic publishers. 1

Despite the importance of both those things, if it wasn’t for the Better BibTex plugin I would almost certainly be using Bookends. The Zotero desktop app is a glorified browser, and an ugly one at that, whereas Bookends is a powerful native app. But I digress, the point is Better BibTex improves Zotero significantly, and I find it to be the best way of dealing with Pandoc citations. If you don’t use it already, you can look into it here.  Or if you want a visual guide, for anything to do with plain scholarship using Zotero I recommend the excellent tutorials by Nicholas Cifuentes-Goodbody

If you already use Better BibTeX and you're looking for an iOS solution, you may find this useful.


  • Better BibTeX  writes custom citations keys to an ‘extra’ field. For most people that won’t matter, but if have other plugins running there is always a chance the crude regular expression I have written to extract the keys will run into problems. 2
  • Make sure your keys are ‘pinned’ on the desktop, if they have an asterisk next to them they will not get written to the web database, meaning the shortcut will break. This is the most common reason the shortcut doesn’t work
  • Unlike the previous shortcuts, this version searches the entire library by default. It seems most users prefer that. If you want it to search a particular collection, it is easy enough to change the URL for the API call. The Zotero documentation includes examples of how the URL should look. You can also look at other versions of these Zotero shortcuts that use a collection instead of the library.
  • If you want to use the shortcut with multiple text editors, delete the final ‘open in app’ action and use multitasking to paste the keys.
  • The shortcut should run fine from the share sheet, but the best way to use these shortcuts is via the widget.

As always, any problems drop me a line.

Download Zotero Better BibTeX Shortcut

Ios Zotero Shortcut
Zotero Better BibTeX






Important: If you are an iOS only user, and do not maintain your Zotero database on a desktop, this shortcut will not work for you. You need to use one of the earlier versions.

  1. e.g Mendeley has an API, but it’s made by Elsevier ↩︎
  2. If anyone with actual RegEx chops wants to improve the expression, please let me know and I will update the shortcut ↩︎