Connecting RM12 records to linked PDFs

When RefMan 12 seems not to know where file attachments have been moved to, this is a way to tell it where things are.

My problem was that I had imported from a different computer a largish RefMan database (5000 entries), and this old database did not know where in my new computer was the folder containing all the attached files, because this was in a different place. I called Tech Support, and got the start of an answer, which I have expanded upon here.

In RefMan 12, it can be difficult to find the file path for the attached documents, and difficult to change it. Here’s one way how to do both, for Windows 7. It is much easier to do in RM11

In this example, all the files (PDFs) attached to the RefMan records are found in a folder called “Library.”

All these files are attached to RefMan records in Field 34.

 I have moved my “Library” folder from “My Documents\Ophtha\Library” to “My Documents\Library”. Now I wish to get RefMan to reconnect to the files.

  1.  Pick a convenient record to gain information from

Open your RefMan 12 database, and a record that has an attached file. Highlight it

  1.  Export the record

In RefMan, go to “File  > Export…”

For the file name, place the file somewhere easy to find, like the desktop. I name the file what the record is numbered (e.g. “168”), for ease of later reference. I use “Tab Delimited” because it was the default, and that works fine.

Export “Highlighted reference(s)”.

A new file appears, in this case “168.txt”.

  1.  Examine the record

The exported reference is saved as a text file, that can be opened in a text editor  (Notepad, Wordpad, Word, etc.).

We’re looking for a file path, text that says something along the lines of  “file://C:\Users\Your User Name Here\Documents\Ophtha\Library\168ItoiM1995.pdf”

This is the file path for the attached document. Take note.

  1.  Find the file path where the folder containing the linked files resides.

The part of the file name in the exported record above that says “file://” is necessary for RefMan, but is not part of the Win 7 file path. If you’ve placed your library somewhere in My Documents, the path in Win 7 is likely “C:\Users\Your User Name Here\Documents”.

It can be a little tricky to figure out what the path name is in Win 7. To get the path name, open Windows Explorer in Win 7, and find the folder containing your linked documents. The file path is not shown at the top of the Windows Explorer window, but rather something like this:

“Libraries > Documents > My Documents > Library”

Again, this is not the file path you’ll need.

To get the actual file path, click on the yellow folder icon at left, and you’ll see something like
“C:\Users\Your User Name Here\Documents\Library” until you click again. So, before you click on anything else, write this down as well.

5)  Use RefMan’s “Find and Replace” to inform the records of the new location of the attached file(s).

In my case, the file path is changing from “C:\Users\Z\Documents\Ophtha\Library” to “C:\Users\Z\Documents\Library” and the “Ophtha” is being elided.

In RefMan, go to “Edit > Find/Replace…”

Find Text:  Put in the part of the file name that you wish to change. Many ways to do this, here I’ll put in (without quotes) “Documents\Ophtha\Library”

Replace With:  What it should say instead, in this case “Documents\Library”

Reference List:  The database you’re concerned with:  RefMan defaults to the one that’s open

Click the “Exclude All” button, and then choose the field of interest, in this case [34].

I ignore the “Replace Options” check boxes.

But the “Replace in” check boxes are critical. I want “All references in list” unless I wish to have to repeat the find and replace process.

Click “OK”, then recheck what you want to do in the next dialogue box, and click “Replace”

RefMan goes to work informing all the records where to find their attachments. This can take a little time, depending on the size of your database. If you have a sizable database and it happens very quickly, you might suspect that you forgot to check the “All references in list” box.

I anticipate that as more people get RM 12, there will be more need for this information.

Hope this helps.


This workaround above is a perfect tool when moving your PDF library to a different folder ! Thank you for taking the time to explain the method.

A key feature of RefMan 12 is the possibility of creating relative links to relevant files. I find that the relative link to PDF is not working.

As I understand, it should be possibe to state the correct path in RefMan12 via Tools -> Options (F11) -> attachments. 

However, the relative links turn in to ordinary links, once the database is copied or moved.

Thanks to the brilliant example above, there is no need to worry about relative inks anymore.