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EndNote 20 for Mac

EndNote Library Basics

There is no limit to the number of references you can add to an EndNote Library. It is important that you keep all the references you cite in a paper or thesis in one Library. 

Each EndNote Library consists of a library file (with the extension .enl) and an associated Data folder (with the extension .data). It is vital that you regularly back-up your Library files.

We recommend you store your EndNote Library files in one of these locations:

  • Documents Folder: Library files stored in the Documents folder can only be accessed by the current user. 
  • Applications Folder: EndNote 20 folder in the Applications Folder so that it can be accessed by all of the user accounts on a Mac that has been configured for multiple users.

Note: You may be prompted to "Select a Reference Library" when downloading files or working with Word documents that contain EndNote citations. It is important that you know where your Library has been saved so that you can navigate to the folder to select it.

Do not run/store your working EndNote Library from a cloud storage service (Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud etc.). Functionality of the cloud storage can adversely affect your EndNote Library, possibly deleting the contents all together. You can however, safely use them to keep or share a backup copy of your compressed EndNote library. 

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To create a new library from within EndNote:

  1. Go to File > New… (give it a unique name).
  2. Choose a location to save & open your Library eg. Documents.
  3. Click Save.

Your blank EndNote Library should open:

1. To open an existing Library

Go to File > Open… [choose the Library] or

launch your Library from where you saved it eg your desktop.

2. Sample Library

EndNote provides a sample Library (Sample_Library_20) for you to practice on. 

To navigate to the Sample Library:

Go to Applications >  EndNote 20 > Examples > Sample_Library_20.enx.

3. To close a library

Go to File > Close Library or

click the red X at the top left corner of EndNote Library window.

EndNote allows you to organise your references into Groups or Group Sets. Groups are displayed in the Navigation Panel on the left. 

1. Create a Group:

  • From the menu, select Groups > Create Group then
  • Double click New Group on the left hand panel, type the name of the new group, eg Psychology - Assignment 1.

2. Add references to your group/s:

  • Drag & drop to copy references into the group (Hold Shift key & highlight to select multiple references) OR
  • Highlight required references, then select Groups > Add References to.
  • Highlight the references then then right click on the references select Add References To.

If you wish to sync your Library with EndNote Online, then it is worth prefixing your group names with part of their group set name.

EndNote Online does not display group sets. It retains the information if you sync your Library with another desktop version of EndNote, but they won't display on screen. On EndNote Online your groups will appear alphabetically. To make them to appear in their usual group you will need to prefix each group with the group set name.

EndNote desktop EndNote online


It is imperative you back up your Library regularly so it can be easily recovered should it, or your PC, become corrupt. 

Method 1

  1. With your library open in EndNote, select File >Save a Copy
  2. Navigate to the location where you want to save it
  3. Click the Save button
  4. Ensure both the .enl library file and the .data folder are saved. This should happen automatically.

Method 2

  • With your library open in EndNote, select File >Compressed Library (.enlx)
  • This will create a copy of your library in one file with the extension .enlx
  • Both the .enl library file and the .data folder will be contained in the compressed library.

You could back up by using:

  • an external hard drive. This is the most secure way to back up and the one we recommend.
  • EndNote Online and sync your desktop Library with your EndNote Online Library.

FAQs about no of libraries

Q: Can I create more than one Library?

A: Yes…

However, we recommend you only have one Library and organise your references into groups. 

This is because merging Libraries can get tricky. 

FAQs about groups

                            Q: Can I add a reference to more than one group?

A: Yes. You are adding a 'copy' of the reference.

Q: How do I delete a reference from one of my groups, but not from the Library altogether?

A: Highlight the reference, then click on the menu item Groups > "Remove References From Group".

Q: If I delete a reference from my main Library, will it be deleted from my group/s?

A: Yes. This is because you are deleting the main reference.

FAQs about backup

                            Q: Can I use a cloud storage eg. Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, SharePoint,  to back up  or store my Library so that I can access it anywhere?

A: We strongly advise you avoid using cloud storage such as DropBox to backup or store your EndNote Library. If you wish to access your Library anywhere, set up EndNote Online.

Macquarie's Librarians have encountered a number of users with corrupt EndNote libraries caused by the use of Dropbox.