Quick and dirty: importing from Bibdesk to Mendeley


My bib files are starting to get a little hairy and I’d like to use some my devices to read papers and sync directly on the go, so I’ve been considering giving a service like Mendeley another shot (though I’m still deeply skeptical of Elsevier’s role in the project1.

When I went to go import my bib file to Mendeley, though, my local files were all left behind.  I use Bibdesk to manage my bib files, and though the resulting import of references went well, all of my linked pdfs were missing.  This is apparently a known issue with Mendeley’s import from Bibdesk, and it doesn’t seem to have been fixed.  Meanwhile, people have come up with workarounds and some have been posted (e.g. here), but I couldn’t find one that worked out of the box (especially since Bibdesk changed to base64 encoded urls a while ago).

So, Python to the rescue!  I wrote a very quick and very ugly script to munge the Bibdesk url into a file url that Mendeley would recognise on import.  I present it here not as a finished product, but as a starting point for anyone who wants to use it / fix it / curse my existence.  All I’ll confirm is that it worked when I imported mine. :)



  1. For another view, we interviewed William Gunn from Mendeley a while ago on Breaking Bio.