Zotero has two ways you can use their software: Zotero Online, and Zotero Standalone. Below will go over the details of each.
The web version of Zotero is ideal for those who prefer not to install the software, or for those who work remotely and/or online. All it takes is a Zotero account on their website to get started.
Using Zotero online:
One downside of using Zotero online is that there is a 300 MB storage limit. You can pay for more online storage space.
It is really useful if you often use multiple computers, or have a device like a Chromebook that doesn't allow software installation.
Zotero Standalone is a desktop software that must be installed. It works in tandem with the Zotero Connector plugin for browsers. It runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Installing Zotero Standalone:
If you need help downloading Zotero, check out their page on installation.
Zotero Standalone uses your computer storage for citations and PDFs, so it's a good option if you need more than the 300 MB on the online version.
The Microsoft Word citation plugin and the LibreOffice Plugin allow you to easily cite items from your Zotero library while writing. If you are using Zotero online, you will need to download the plugin separately. The Word/OpenOffice plugin usually downloads automatically with Zotero 5.0. However, if it did not install at the same time as the Zotero Standalone, follow the instructions below: