Reviewing Paperpile 0.5 beta

paperpile logo

Paperpile is a nice software which hit the 0.5 beta version some days ago. It’s been a while that I’m using it and being in the full swing of writing my Thesis, I tend to use it on daily basis, so I decided to review it a bit.

First of all Paperpile is a reference manager, which help to manage, organize, cite and share the collection of scientific papers that you have on your computer. If you do science you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, imagine you have at least 200 different articles lying on your hard drive, which analyse different but related subjects. When writing a new research article, it’s necessary to cite all the relevant previous work to put you new work in contest. It’s the incremental delta of new information which science uses to evolve (when there is not a quantum leap).

Retrieving, organizing and citing those piece of work is necessary and can be a daunting task, but a good reference manager can help to make your life easier. There are several softwares out there, and I had different experiences, however it seems Paperpile is overcoming anything else and I’m using it productively, making me even to read more papers!

So let’s jump into it.

Paperpile general

General view of Paperpile

This is the general window of paperpile. On the Top left you can see the label ā la gmail. More than one label can be added to a paper and different background/foreground colour can be used to personalize it. To add an existing label to a paper just pick and drag it over it. Super easy.

On the Mid right you can add the RSS from journals, which can help you to be updated with the latest articles published. I used to have this RSS in my google reader, however having it directly in paperpile makes super easy to import new papers and collect the pdf.

Bottom right there is a collection of different tool, from being able to search Pubmed to import a directory full of PDF.

Central window is where the meat is. All the paper, ordered by addiction Date (you can change to what you prefer) and the most important feature: the search box. Paperpile implements a search as you type system, so as soon you start to type it it start to search in author title and also abstract.

One very interesting bit is that the search box actually find the article I’m usually looking for, and it’s pretty precise. It really saves me a lot of time. This is a clear edge over Mendeley for example, where the search was a disaster. At least in the version I’ve used so far.

The central window also give you the possibility to add notes to a paper.

On top left there are very useful actions which paperpile can perform for you. Paperpile makes easy to retrieve the article on to the publisher site, either giving you a link to visit the webpage or can automatically fetch the paper for you. Sweet!

Another very useful features, which I used so far at least 3 times, is the automatically generated email, which fire up an already ready to send email to your colleagues with the citation reference.

One last thing that I would like to put under the light is the LaTeX integration. With an easy Ctrl-K the label will be copied in your clipboard ready to be pasted in your LaTeX file. If you need the more standard citation, Ctrl-C will do.

To set up the automatically synch for your bibtex database just click on All Papers, on the top-left and turn it on, choosing the location for the file. After that every new paper you’ll add to your collection is automatically exported in BibTeX and you don’t have to care about it at all 🙂

Paperpile BiBTeX setting

Go and Check it out.


  1. Nice review, I will give a try to this paperpile. I currently use Mendeley but I would not mind to change.

  2. Iīm currently comparing references managers for my soon starting phd.
    But this one seems dead – the code on github is no longer (user wash), the bug tracker also gone – and no movement in the forums. Sad – but true.
    Only your github fork is left.
    Do you know something more??

  3. Hi Matt,

    I know one of the developers personally and Paperpile is under heavy development 🙂

    More over, I used to write my thesis and worked very well!

  4. thats good news.
    as i tried it already and it looks promising (liked it more than mendeley and jabref (which i used for my master) – so it would have been sad if it just would have gone.

    thanks for the info.

  5. Hi matt,
    i’ve been watching paperpile for a while now.
    As i can’t find any source code, bugtracker or any other activity and you may know more.
    Is it still beeing worked on? Is there any place to see the progress? So far i found only “dead” material on the web.
    I tried the old beta and it’s fine – but as currently some other primising new project are in my sight i think i’ll probably switch as there is no progress to see nor any sources for somebody who may take over.
    Got any more info??

    • Hi tedus,

      paperpile is under heavy development and refactoring. They decided to go for closed source in the mean time, and they are devolving some serious time to that.

      One of the developer is a friend of mine, so this is first hand information 😀

      • any news om that??

        • This is what Greg reply by e-mail

          In the years since we released that first beta, we’ve undertaken a significant technology shift and are almost ready to start beta-testing. The new version runs as a Chrome browser extension plus a web-app. We think it works very nicely, retaining the core feel of our original Paperpile with a faster, more modern UI.

          If you’d be interested in joining the group of beta testers early next year, I’d be happy to add you to the list. In exchange for your valuable feedback and ideas, we’ll make sure any beta testers get never-ending free access to the full version once it’s out.

          Or if you have any other ideas or suggestions, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

  6. I also watched the news for some time – but as nothing appeared and tracker etc. was gone i searched a little and found you blog.

    So –
    Closed source?
    Thats bad news.

    At least for me as a linux and open source fan i will switch then.
    Guess since kde4 another (for me) promising reference manager appeared – so there’s some open alternatives raising.

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