Mendeley is a free citation manager that offers a set of features appropriate for all research levels.
You'll need to set up a free Mendeley account in order to use the desktop client. Simply visit the Mendeley website and click "Create account" at the top of the page.
The Mendeley desktop client has installation guides for Windows, Mac, and Linux (and even Ubuntu/Debian, if that's your thing). The installation guide will indicate which versions of those operating systems Mendeley supports.
In addition to installing the desktop client, use your new Mendeley credentials to log in to the web client.
There are companion iOS and Android mobile apps that you can use in conjunction with the desktop client. The mobile apps are mainly for viewing and annotating PDFs, rather than managing your citation library, which is why Mendeley recommends them as companions to the desktop client.
Creating an Account
No matter how you choose to access Mendeley, you'll need a free Mendeley account. If you haven't created an account yet, go to the Mendeley website and click "Create account" at the top of the page. If you have an account for other Elsevier services, like ScienceDirect or Scopus, you can use those credentials to sign in to Mendeley.
When you launch the desktop client for the first time, you'll be prompted to sign in with your Mendeley account credentials.
Once logged in, you'll be given the option of installing other add-ons like the Web Importer and MS Word plugin. Feel free to skip this step, as you can do it at any time. You'll also be presented with a brief tour of Mendeley options.
That's all you need to do to begin using the desktop client! To learn how to add citations and PDFs, consult the Adding Content to Mendeley section.
To get started, visit the Mendeley website and sign in with your Mendeley account credentials.
Once signed in, consider creating your personal profile. Unlike profiles you've created for social media, your Mendeley profile focuses on your scholarship and research interests. Completing your profile will allow Mendeley Suggest to inform you of relevant research you might be interested in, and it will let potential collaborators know of your research interests and, if you have them, publications.
More information about your profile, Mendeley Suggest, and group collaboration can be found in the Mendeley Web Guide.
Once you've installed the iOS or Android app, launch it and sign in with your Mendeley account credentials. The first time you sign in, you'll be show a few highlights of the app. The app will automatically sync with your Mendeley account and download your library. Because the mobile app is meant as a companion to the desktop client, there really isn't any more you need to configure.
Drag and drop files and folders
If you have PDFs you want in your library, Mendeley Desktop allows you to simply drag and drop those files into the client window. Mendeley will automatically extract document details and create a library entry. You can also drag and drop an entire folder of documents, which Mendeley will sift through and create entries for the PDFs it finds.
Have Mendeley watch a folder
If you have a specific folder or folders you use to save PDFs relevant to your research, you don't have to remember to also add those PDFs to Mendeley. In Mendeley Desktop, navigate to Tools > Options > Watched Folders and tick the folder(s) Mendeley should monitor. When new PDFs are added to those folders, Mendeley will automatically import and create library entries for them.
The Mendeley Web Importer browser extension examines the web page you're visiting and automatically creates citations from the documents it finds there. You can select which citations you want to add to your library and import them with a click.
Manually add entries
Of course, you can always add a citation manually for materials you don't have a PDF version of.
Select the type of document, fill in the appropriate fields, and click Save to add the entry to your library.
You can transfer your existing citations from RefWorks, EndNote, Zotero, Papers, and more.
Review citations for accuracy
No matter which method you use to create entries in your Mendeley library, we recommend always reviewing them for accuracy using an appropriate style guide.
There are a wide variety of support materials on the Mendeley website, including installation and help guides for every version of Mendeley and its associated plugins, video tutorials, and citation guides.
The Mendeley Support Center offers FAQs and options for contacting support staff by email, chat, or Twitter.