The New Mendeley for iPad and iPhone

[Editor’s Note–We thought you’d like to know: this 2013 post is out-of-date. Find info on Mendeley’s current abilities here, and details about the 2021 sunset of the mobile apps here.]

We’re very proud to announce the release of the all new Mendeley for iOS. We’ve rebuilt the app from the ground up to make it fast, fluid and easier to use than ever before. It’s available today for FREE on the app store.


It’s been a long time coming.  We’ve listened to your feedback, and have taken our time to ensure that we’ve crafted a great product, that makes your research workflow quicker and much more efficient.

  • Redesigned from the ground up to deliver the best possible mobile experience
  • Highlight important text and record your thoughts with sticky notes
  • Sync highlights and notes to Mendeley Desktop on Windows, Mac, or Linux
  • Sync wirelessly without interrupting your workflow
  • Easily tap-to-download full-text files
  • Fullscreen reading in any orientation
  • Explore papers related to the one you’re reading
  • Supports nested folders in your library and groups
  • Easily tag documents or add them to folders

Library Management


When you first login to the app, all your references, folders, and groups from Mendeley Desktop will be synced to your device automatically. You can also sync the changes you make at any time by tapping the sync button in the bottom left. The Library overview lists all your folders and groups, as well as the smart filters that you’re used to in Mendeley Desktop, including ‘Favorites’, ‘My Publications’, and ‘Recently Added’. This means that recently added documents will also appear on your iPhone or iPad. You can customise which smart filters are visible by tapping ‘Edit’ at the top of the library overview.


These days a lot of reading happens away from the computer screen, so Mendeley for iOS has been designed to give you the best possible reading experience wherever you are, on your iPad or iPhone. Full-text PDFs aren’t downloaded to the device by default, but we’ve streamlined the UI to let you easily download individual PDFs on demand.  Simply tap the download arrow on a document to download the PDF.  When the PDF has downloaded, a blue “Read” button will display instead.  Tap this to go directly to reading mode.  If you’d rather have all your PDFs stored on your device, you can enable this in ‘Settings’.


When reading a PDF, you can slide the document details out of your way, and single-tap on the PDF to enable true full-screen reading mode in landscape or portrait orientation.

Highlights & Annotations

The feature you’ve been requesting is finally here! All users will now be able to create and edit highlights and notes on their iPhone and iPad devices. Simply select a line of text to highlight it, or add a text note for reference later.  Long-press and release on an area where there’s no text (such as a margin, or an older scanned PDF) to add a note to that point.

More Coming Soon…

Though we managed to close an impressive 67% of the outstanding mobile feedback issues, a few really important things had to be stripped from this first release in order to get it out the door on time.  Updates will come faster and more regularly than before, and it’s important to us that we keep you posted about what we’re working on.

Things we’re working on next include:

  • Sort document lists by Author, Year, and Added date
  • Automatic metadata lookup
  • Sync speed improvements
  • Recently Read
  • Create and edit folders

You can always suggest new mobile features, or vote up other people’s suggestions at If you like what you see, please help spread the word by leaving a review in the app store, or tweet with the #MendeleyiOS hashtag. We really appreciate your support!

94 thoughts on “The New Mendeley for iPad and iPhone

  1. Android has more users than ios: How do we put the things now?

    It’s astonishing the work that only one guy has done with Scholarlely and still the api do not allow any annotations synchronization.

    You did not even mention about projects for android and this makes me very sad.

    • We are going to be making our annotations API public once it’s had some stress testing and refinement via this app. We’re already in contact with the developer of Scholarley regarding this.

      The best thing you can do to support android is leave specific and detailed comments here: with specifics about why exactly an official app will solve problems that a third party app isn’t able to, so that we can continue to build a better business case for it, or further improve our APIs to help our third party apps get better.

  2. Are there any plans to add the ability to search across external databases? Your compare page has said “Almost there” for several years.

    • As you can imagine, supporting multiple APIs from a variety of sites is a huge cost in maintenance alone, let alone development costs. Currently we’re working on improving support for these services with our web importer bookmarklet, and are stepping into desktop search tools with our own catalog search in Mendeley Desktop 1.9. I’d expect to see the ability to search the mendeley catalog early next year, along with catalog quality improvements also. External search may be further down the line, but we can’t promise anything at this stage. Somewhat obviously, ScienceDirect and Scopus integration are likely candidates.

  3. Steve, I wonder, what was the “business case” for developing and prioritising an iOS app over android? Why can’t a third party adequately provide an iOS app also?

    • A fair question. Before our first app was announced, iOS support was our highest requested feature, and traffic from iOS devices was 3-5x higher than traffic from android devices (which is still the case today). You also don’t need budget approval for existing staff, but you do for new staff, particularly creating new teams and apps from scratch. The iOS app was started before we had corporate budgetary structures to deal with.

      Everyone at Mendeley wants us to make an Android app, and has done for quite some time. We don’t make business decisions out of spite, there’s a very real business case that needs to be made when you’re a completely free product and wanting to build your team.

      Regarding third party apps and iOS, one of our core goals with this project was to develop the iOS app using our own open API, and using this to figure out where bottlenecks and pain points were for our third party developers, and improving those things, which in turn improves the app landscape for everyone.

  4. It is highly required that you create the android app as early as possible.. the android tablet that we are using needs a better android app..

  5. Unfortunately, for many publication in my library I don’t see a download arrow, so I can’t read them. How to solve this problem?

  6. Beautiful! This app is remarkable, I’m glad I stuck with mendeley desktop app – worth the wait!

  7. prioritizing iOS over Android is a mistake. it’s really holding Mendeley back at this stage.

  8. I hate to point this out, but as long as the iOS app is better than the 3rd party app you will always have increased usership coming from the iOS platform. Half of my lab has to use their 1st gen ipad because Scholarley doesn’t quite make the cut. Most of us can’t afford to upgrade to the new ipad so naturally we get the cheaper android tablets, only to find that the 3rd party app is sub par and we have to use our old tablets for functionality. If you plan on waiting until android users make up a larger chunk of your user base before you develop an app, you will have missed the boat. If you’re strapped for funding, why don’t you just strike up a corporate partnership with Samsung. Their push into the educational market could certainly use the help of an app like mendeley.

    • Up until this release, our iOS app was significantly worse than Scholarley, and certainly worse than other iOS third party clients such as PaperShip. We’re not citing stats as an excuse, we’re citing them to explain that a business case is difficult, but we are genuinely trying. We need genuinely constructive feedback from you all on what exactly you find sub-par about the existing android apps. We’ll be sending out a survey later this week, it would be great it you could feed back.

  9. How can Windows Phones usage be 0.1% when you don’t even have an app for it? Web access stats? Your website doesn’t serve a mobile version so I wouldn’t expect any reliable stats from that.

  10. You keep saying traffic through IOS is more! how am I exactly suppose to make any traffic when I can’t access Mendeley through my android device?
    In my opinion major apple users are in highschool and they don’t really need mendeley. All I can do is to use the metatato add-on for chrome to access mendeley which is really crappy and I can’t even highlight a text.

  11. This is excellent news & whilst I don’t use an ipad many colleagues do, so I can see this as being very helpful indeed to many people. Thank you for putting this together; for a free service its remarkable & I have no idea what your business model actually is. Will you be free forever? All that aside, on behalf of colleagues; thanks for this; and, frankly, thanks for Mendeley too.

  12. It is a shame that Mendeley have created a new. IOS app from scratch, but android platform have not received any attention. There are more android users and they keep growing.
    Sincerely, I do not understand those business decisions.
    Anyway I hope Mendeley can collaborate with independent developers, we need an app with native PDF support and highlight/annotations.

  13. There is no excuse to ignore android.
    This is completely obvious to see a 3-5 higher traffic from iOS when your official app is iOs only.
    Personally, I just decided to not use mendeley anymore, so you will probably see less and less traffic from android. I prefer to not see app update at all that have this feeling to use a tool only Apple-optimized.

  14. Please count me among the Androidians who will never be an Apple customer, but who appreciates the workmanship of Mendeley. hope you understand by now that saying most of your traffic comes from Ios folks is meaningless as long as Ios is the only platform you offer. FYI, I own two Samsung tablets and one Kindle Fire.

  15. Without Android app I can’t use Mendeley and hence you will not get any traffic. This is a very strange Argumentation.

  16. Please don’t forget Android, most users have Android and the API IS NOT enough for the needs, as clearly stated by Referey and Scholarley. If you cannot support the pdf database online, then you need to improve the link capabilites of the API to a local folder (in a movile device)

    And with this, please try to improve the sync, I have 2 PC and a tablet and there’s sync mistakes every week


  17. Sigh… send me that survey. i’ve tried both droidley and scholarley and right now i end up using dropbox for accessing my papers on mobile. there simply isn’t a good, elegant app for mendeley access on android.

    i’ve been looking for an alternative to mendeley for a while that has a good native android app and uses my dropbox for storage. granted, that doesn’t exist yet, but if it did, i would be gone rather quickly. oh well.

  18. Fantastic app, thank you very much! I would LOVE it if it worked for iWork as well (basically just Pages). That’s the only thing I need from it now, as I continue to shift from Office to iWork.

  19. I of course think it’s wonderful the Mendeley is free, and as so many of us really miss an Android version enough that we’d be willing to pay for it, could you not consider a crowd funding project?
    Start a campaign on e.g. IndieGoGo the and see whether you get enough backers to hire that new employee for long enough to develop an initial version. Set different funding goals for different lengths of employment.

  20. Thanks for the update. It seems to be much more stable (no crashes so far) and annotations and highlights are a very welcome addition. However, I still feel it is not at a point at which I can make regular use of it. The main issue now is sync performance.

    Even without attachment sync activated, my initial library sync (2900 items) took more than 15 minutes (at which point I left the room so not sure how long it actually took) and subsequent syncs are taking around 3.5 minutes. This is too slow. I’m not even going to try to include attachments in the sync. Whole-library search performance is also too slow.

    I think the obvious suggestion is to implement selective sync. I have no particular need to have my whole library permanently in sync on my phone or iPad. If selective sync were available, I would choose just to have perhaps 2-5 folders (pertinent to the studies I am currently working on) in sync, together with their attachments. In relation to this, I suggest you create a new special folder called something like “reading list”. I would add papers that I intend to read in the near future to this collection and would like to have that selectively synced to my tablet. I would also find a “reading list” special collection generally useful on the desktop.

    With a selective sync option, it may still be useful to be able to search my whole library but perhaps this could be via a search of my library on Mendeley web, and then I can choose to download individual items on an as-needed basis. Also, presumably the performance of a search of my Mendeley-web library would be much better than on-device search.

    • This is great feedback thanks. We hear you about sync speed. Selective sync was in my original plans for the app, but currently our API doesn’t support doing this in a nice way, and we need to wait for some more major improvements to be made on the API level before we can implement it. That being said, we are working on some changes right now that should make sync significantly faster. Sync speed at the moment is about half the speed it was during testing due to the increased load on the servers following the launch, we’re working on better scaling for this also. I expect that sync will be in a significantly better state by the end of the year, with these incremental improvements we’re making.


  21. Its funny argument with traffic – for example I use “ipad view” in mobile browser on my note 2 for better results. It means that me device introduce its self as ipad so you counting me like iOS device.
    Noone serious i known is making decision based on so poor source of knowledge.

  22. Thanks for the update! I was wondering whether we’d ever see a new (read: usable) version of the app. I had resorted to copying documents I wanted to read to dropbox and reading them with goodreader, which clearly is not the optimal workflow.

    Anyway, to add some (constructive) criticism:
    – yes, syncing is still waaay too slow. I guess most people who really use this will have large-ish libraries (mine is also around 2.5k entries), and it just is not tolerable to have to wait
    – I know you’re working on it, but just to add weight to its importance: I crucially rely on being able to order the list according to different criteria, the most important for me being “date added”.

    In any case, thanks for getting this moving again!

  23. Great to have this functional version finally. Thanks. Many of my articles are scanned, and I do not se a highlighting tool for that like the desktop version has. Any plans for that?

  24. Let me add to the chorus: The Android apps are terrible. They’re free, and I appreciate the effort, but they barely work. I can’t even get Scholarly to sort my library properly, never mind searching the body of my PDFs. And it’s such a joke to refer us to the Get Satisfaction page, which has been open for years and isn’t even marked “under consideration”. Honestly, you should close that thread and start a new one. As someone who commented there repeatedly years ago it’s almost insulting. If you want people to take the time to write thoughtful feedback on the existing alternatives then you ought to do something to convince me (us) that someone at Mendeley actually cares and that there’s a chance in hell something will change.

    And how’s this for a business case – the day a competitor comes out with a remotely viable option for Android a big hunk of your user base will bail. Do you really think that day won’t ever come? I’m sure there’s money here, as I for one would pay for an app (or a subscription service that included an app).

  25. When will iOS functions like sorting and subfolders in groups be available in the web-based version of Mendeley?

  26. I’ve donated to the scholarley developer a couple of times because I appreciate his work, but it’s clearly too big of a job for one person.

  27. Is there a way to remove files from the device once it’s downloaded? I read quite a few papers and at a couple MBs each they will rapidly overtake my storage capabilities. I’d like to be able to sync my annotations and then remove them from my device.

    • When viewing the metadata, scroll to the bottom to where the files are listed. Swipe on them and tap “clear” to remove it from the device. Annotations are stored separately and should be synced without problems.

      Warning though: If it says “Delete” instead (which it does if you’re in edit metadata mode), don’t click it, it will remove the file from the reference entirely.

  28. Glad to see this, as I had basically given up on the previous versions of Mendeley for iOS. I’ll be taking the new one for test spin later today! That said, I do a lot of my work with Mendeley while I’m actually writing, and I don’t really do writing on mobile devices (yet), so I am hoping to see plenty more action on the Mendeley Desktop front as well! I suppose most people have a handful of pet fixes/features on which they’re waiting, there.

    • The answer at the moment is “Sort of”. Once Sort options are added, we will be migrating to a proper iOS7 build, which will inevitably involve some UI refinement and a bit of flattening, however we won’t be making huge UI changes for aesthetic reasons only. As a designer, I feel that iOS7 is still relatively unproven in the market from a usability and learning curve point of view.

      We’ll probably start making this switch early next year, at which point we’ll most likely be dropping support for iOS5 devices. We just don’t want to leave the iPad 1 users without the ability to sort documents at this stage.

  29. With users working on different platforms I wonder if it would be possible to build an app using JavaScrip which now exists outside the browser with node.js, which (among other things) makes remarkably fast servers but most of all since JavaScript combined with HTML5 can be used to create apps that work both on iOS and Android — and of course on your laptop’s browser. Any laptop, whether Mac, PC or Linux.

    Not sure of the technicalities of the Mendley program, just wondered if had been explored, as one app that works on all platforms would be great for the users and in the long run may be cheaper to develop and maintain.

    • The big problem here is PDF rendering and annotation. PDF.js is getting to a usable point on Desktop systems, but still leaves a lot to be desired on mobile devices, so isn’t an option at this stage, and would actually be more expensive to maintain, delivering a worse experience (that didn’t feel native on either OS). We’re definitely keeping an eye on our options, but at present, native apps and API improvements are how we expect to be able to deliver the best experience to you all.

  30. OMG this is amazing, I’m so glad you finally came out with it! It is going to make my literature research a million times easier. LOVE the notes function.
    Thank you thank you!!

  31. Great work. Now I can read my papers in my ipad. I had the following problem: the ipad app freezes when I chose “all documents” (Ihave close to 4700 documents).

  32. Does this new version rely on the Cloud, or will all PDFs need to be downloaded and stored on the iPad?

    • @Caitlin: You can sync all PDFs to your device for offline usage, but this is optional. You can download them as you need them as well if you have internet connectivity.

  33. Sorry, i had high hopes but this does not work, cannot sync fully, crashes as soon as want to do anything. I am on ios7. Help….

    • We’re aware of the issues effecting sync and resolving them is our absolute top priority. We’ve been working hard on it this week and we’re hoping to push a fix for this next week.

  34. As for making a business case for making Windows 8 and Android apps, here is another perspective.

    You guys made the best bibliography desktop app available. Period. And this your success. Now you are already late for the Android market, and thumbed have to deal with the considerable anger from the huge majority of users with Android tablets and phones. I’m pretty sure you’ll fix that soon. You have to there is no real choice…

    Now the question is, will you also be late for Windows 8 RT apps? Consider this, nearly all computers now run Windows 8, and very soon nearly all of them will have a touchscreen. All my computers have a touchscreen already, including my 23 inches desktop. Will you also waste all that potential until is again too late? Or will you take advantage of it now and completely bust the competition?

  35. For those seeking a viable alternative to Mendeley for android, please may I direct you (and the staff of Mendeley, here is your business case: viable competition) to

    I came across this software this morning. You can import your library direct from Mendeley (or elsewhere) and it seems to do an OK job for a piece of relatively new software. I’ve had a quick play about and it’s very nice.

    There is a desktop and Android version.

    For the record, I am in no way affiliated with them.

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