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A Guide to EndNote

An introduction to the citation manager EndNote

EndNote has both a desktop (i.e., EndNote 21) and web component (i.e., EndNote web or Endnote online).  The setup and configuration instructions for these components are noted below.

Download EndNote 21 desktop

McMaster University has a site license for the latest version of EndNote. EndNote 21 for Windows and macOS is now available to current McMaster employees and students for download (see link below). One person can install the software on up to three personal devices (e.g., desktop computer, laptop, iPad or iPhone).

NOTE: EndNote 20 is no longer available for download at McMaster, but if you already have it installed, you can continue to use this version if you prefer and receive software updates from Clarivate. You can also upgrade to EndNote 21 using the download link below.

Video iconWhat's New in EndNote 21 (3:00) (Clarivate)
What's New in EndNote 21
EndNote 21 New Features
EndNote 21 Windows and macOS: Release Notes
EndNote: ADA Compliance
- includes VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template)

Download iconDownload EndNote 21 from McMaster's Software Depot

Using an earlier version of EndNote desktop (e.g., 20, X9)? 
Clarivate suggests backing up data from previous versions of EndNote and uninstalling the previous version before installing the new version. Consult the relevant articles below for more information.

Want to ensure the safety of your EndNote libraries?

  • EndNote libraries consist of two parts: the .enl file and the .Data folder. It is important that both of these components remain together in the same location at all times. Your EndNote libraries will not work if the data folder is deleted or separated from the .enl file.
  • You should never store active EndNote libraries inside cloud-syncing folders such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud, etc. Keep EndNote libraries on your device's local hard drive. Storing or editing libraries on a network drive can lead to corruption and performance issues.

Switching to EndNote from another citation manager?

What happens to EndNote when I leave McMaster?
Your access to EndNote desktop will continue, but software updates and upgrades will no longer be available once you leave McMaster. To keep current, a new license for EndNote desktop would need to be acquired through your new institution or purchased independently.

Set-Up EndNote web or EndNote online

EndNote web is the new, exclusive web component for EndNote 21 users. Previous versions of EndNote (20, X9, etc.) can only use EndNote online as the web component. EndNote web & EndNote online allow you to access the contents of your EndNote library from any device with an internet connection, synchronize references between devices and share your research with colleagues.

Once EndNote desktop is installed, the initial sign in / sign up for the new EndNote web (or the EndNote online classic) is done from within EndNote desktop

EndNote desktop Login screen
With your EndNote desktop library open, go to the Library drop-down menu and select Sync.

On the EndNote Login screen, you are prompted to either create an account (select Sign Up button) or log in to your pre-existing EndNote account (enter E-mail Address & Password).

This process synchronizes your EndNote desktop with EndNote web (or EndNote online) so you can access, update and edit the references in your library on multiple devices.

For more information, see the following guides ...

Once your EndNote account is enabled, you can sign in to the new EndNote web (EndNote 21 users only) or the classic EndNote online at

EndNote Web / EndNote Online Sign inSign In icon

Additional online options:

Set-Up and Find Full Text

Once you have downloaded EndNote desktop, you can use the Find Full Text feature to import PDFs for your references. You will be asked to authenticate your access ( required).

1. To enable the Find Full Text feature in EndNote desktop ...

  • Go to Edit menu > Preferences... > Find Full Text > select all the full text search options and enter the OpenURL and proxy prefix: as shown below.
    • McMaster's OpenURL Path is:
    • Authenticate with URL (McMaster's proxy prefix) is:

EndNote desktop > Edit > Preferences > Find Full Text window

  • If desired, select the Automatically invoke Find Full Text on newly-imported references checkbox.
  • Once configured, select Apply, then OK or Cancel to close the menu.

Once the above settings have been saved, using the Find Full Text feature should automatically import to EndNote any full-text PDF documents available through McMaster University Libraries or otherwise freely available.
NOTE:  EndNote may not be able to download all PDFs that McMaster has access to because of technical issues or because the publisher has chosen not to allow their data to be accessed through the Find Full Text feature (e.g., Elsevier does not allow PDFs, only URLs).

2. To initiate a Find Full Text search in EndNote desktop ...

  • Select the reference(s) in your library for which you want to find full-text.
    • to select several references, click on one reference in the Reference List panel and hold down the Ctrl key while selecting (clicking on) more references.
    • to select all references on a screen, click on a reference in the Reference List panel and press Ctrl+A to select all or go to the Edit menu and pick Select All
      NOTE: If several references are selected in a single batch, the process may take some time to complete, so consider selecting smaller sets of references.
      CAUTION: Downloading very large numbers of PDF at one time may trigger a breach in our licenses with publishers for excessive downloads.
  • Once references are selected, 
    •  EndNote desktop > Find Full Text option in pop-menuright click on the selected reference(s) and pick Find Full Text from the pop-up menu (as shown in the adjacent image)
    • go to the References menu and choose Find Full Text > Find Full Text 
    • click on the search icon (top right) EndNote desktop > Find Full Text search icon 
  •  If an authentication page appears, type in your and click OK. If a Database Menu window appears, click the Continue button. NOTE: Authentication is usually only required once per session.
  •  A search will begin and progress will be tracked in the FIND FULL TEXT group set.
    When the search finishes, you may see three types of groupsFind Full Text Group Set
    • Found PDF - PDFs have been found and have been added to the reference(s). A paper clip icon will appear next to your reference(s) along with full-text PDF files.
    • Found URL - PDFs were unable to download (usually due to technical issues or publisher restrictions), but a link to the the full-text is added to the reference(s) in the URL field.
    • Not Found - PDF not found. No additional information was found for the reference(s).
  • If the PDFs were not downloaded or were not found, try using McMaster's OpenURL server directly (which will link to Omni) to find the full-text
    • EndNote desktop > OpenURL Link in pop-up  menuright click on the selected reference and pick OpenURL Link from the pop-up menu (as shown in the adjacent image)
    • select a single reference and go to the References menu and choose URL > OpenURL Link

If available, navigate to the the full-text, download the PDF and attach it to the reference manually [see tab above for instructions]

  • If PDF is not available, use another method to track down the full-text (e.g., request the item via Interlibrary Loan). Once acquired, attach the PDF to the reference manually [see tab above for instructions].

Video icon EndNote 21 & 20: Find Full Text [no audio] (1:20) (Clarivate)
Although this video was created for EndNote 20, this feature works the same in EndNote 21.

If the Find Full Text feature does not retrieve full text, but you have a copy of the full text, you can manually attach the file to the reference.

EndNote 21 & 20 desktop
  • open EndNote desktop
  • go to the Reference List panel and click on the reference to which you want to attach the file
  • go to the Summary panel for that reference and select the + Attach file button 
  • from the resulting Select a file to link to the reference window, navigate to the file on your device, select it and click Open
  • once added, go to the File menu in the toolbar and select Save from the drop-down menu

The file should now appear in the Summary, Edit (i.e., File Attachments field ) and/or PDF panels for that reference.
A paper clip icon should also now be displayed beside the reference in the list.

Video icon EndNote 21 & 20: File attachments [no audio] (0:47) (Clarivate)
NOTE: Although this video was created for EndNote 20, this feature works the same in EndNote 21.

EndNote web - available exclusively to EndNote 21 users
  • sign-in to EndNote web
  • go to the Reference List panel and click on the reference to which you want to attach the file
  • go to the File Attachments panel for that reference and select the + Attach file button 
  • from the File Upload window, navigate to the file on your device, select it and click Open

The file should now appear in the File Attachments panel for that reference.
The number of attachments associated with that reference (e.g., 1) will appear in the paper clip column

EndNote online
  • sign-in to EndNote online
  • go to the reference to which you want to attach the file 
  • click the title of the reference to display the full record or click the paper clip icon next to the reference in the list
  • go to the Attachments: section of the reference and select Attach files or in the File Attachments window, select Attach files
  • select the Choose File button, navigate to the file on your device, select it, and click Open
  • click the Upload button to attach and save the file

The file should now appear as an attachment in the record and the paper clip icon should now be bolded beside the reference in the list.

EndNote online: Attaching file to reference

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