Endnote 21 Bugs and Other Problems

Having upgraded to Endnote 21 from X9, I must say I am extremely disappointed. The lost functionality and bugs is truly stunning. This is what I’ve discovered so far (and many of these bugs have been confirmed by Endnote’s Tech Support:

  • Copy and paste of references from one library to another no longer works. This is basic functionality. How could this software possibly have been released with such a bug? Yes, there is a work around, but it’s not easy.

  • When I select “references/figure/attach figure” an entirely useless dialog box appears that asks me to click a button to locate the figure. Why doesn’t it just take me straight to the dialog box to locate the figure? This has been a problem for many versions. It wastes the user’s time.

  • If I click on the attached figure, nothing happens. In X9, it would bring up the figure in a new window in a larger size.

  • I am unable to delete a figure that has been added to a record.

  • In the Edit Output Style window, it opens with the reference type headings garbled and unreadable. Again, this is a known bug that has not been fixed many months after release.

  • I can no longer change the font used in the Endnote Library window. I could do this in X9.

  • When I select the Summary button in the library window, no preview appears. I have to pull the preview pane up to see the preview. And if do some other work, the preview pane goes back to being closed again. Why?

  • In X9, the preview pane was visible in the edit window. Endnote 21 only shows the preview pane when the summary button is selected. Why? This slows down my work.

I have used Endnote since version 1. Really disappointed with the latest version and many other users are reporting the same.

It seems that Endnote 21 has moved many menu items. Why do the developers do this? It just makes it harder on users who already know where things are. Imagine if you went out to dinner and when you returned home, someone had entered your home and rearranged all the furniture and light switches. You would be furious. This is what the Endnote developers have done, which is why there are so many complaints in your user forum regarding the interface changes. Nothing should be changed UNLESS THERE IS A COMPELLING REASON TO DO SO.


A few more problems.

  • In X9, double clicking on a reference brings it up in a new window. This no longer happens in V21. Having a new window allows it to be moved on the screen, which is sometimes useful.

  • In V21, you only get a movable window for a reference on the first entry. Once it is saved, you cannot display it in a new window.

  • When there is a new window in V21, moving it slightly causes the window to automatically be resized to a smaller size. Why?


I think Clarivate needs to put back the things it has broken. And put them back in V21. I will not be paying for a V22 unless V21 is fixed.


Putting the functions back and restoring the basic useability of EndNote might require background/historic knowledge that …I’m guessing here… may have left the company in a round of layoffs or other turnovers in programmers. The kinds of changes I’ve been seeing seem to ignore that some of us have been relying on EndNote [and RefMan] for decades. If the company chooses to change things around and make EndNote less functional, it becomes exponentially easier for people to say “Since I can’t rely on my established workflow, why am I not switching to a rival product? The learning curves are starting to look similar…”


I would agree. Is Clarivate trying to kill EndNote whilst pretending to develop it?

I have an inkling that something worse is at play.

When I copy/paste text with embedded citations from an older Word document into a new one, Endnote cannot recognize the citations when I compile the new bibliography. The interesting thing is that it also happens if the copied citations are unformatted! And here’s the real stinker: it happens even if the unique Record Number is correct (as are the Author and Year). I simply have to delete the citation and insert a new citation from my Library.

This can only mean that Endnote keeps some field code in the text even when the citation is unformatted. Proof of that allegation is that when I recently copied a paragraph from an old document to a new one, Endnote generated two almost identical references in the bibliography. (They were different in that library record in question had been slightly edited since the old document was created and compiled).

In short, Enonote leaves hidden field codes in Word documents.
In other words, when Clarivate started on Endnote 20, the started on a new architecture that in essential ways break with the previous concept (but didn’t think it through).
One last thing: when compiling a bibliography and Endnote comes across one of the citations I refuses to recognize, it displays a window that extends way beyond my screen. It cannot be resized. I simply have to scroll horizontally for about two feet.

And just in case one may want to dismiss this account, I only have one Library. I have been working on it since the first Endnote version was released in the early 1990s. And have never had any other. So don’t reply that I have mixed up libraries or something likecthat. The developers have screwed up. Big time.

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@richardlotus I’ve also used Endnote for years. I mainly use it for organizing references for lengthy documents with thousands of references and I’ve not use the cite-while-you-write features because of long-term challenges with embedded codes and sharing of documents with others for feedback/editing. However, the change of the software with version 20 has made things much more cumbersome even with my limited use. Version 21 doesn’t seem to have fixed the problems and the additional features such as tagging are under-developed and thus of little use. I will note that, in response to a survey that I completed about a year ago, one of the Clarviate staff reached out to me and has been very responsive in listening to my concerns, but he’s only able to submit feedback to their development team. Apparently, they thought they were improving/modernizing the look-and-feel and adding features that some people had requested, but in the meantime, they broke many important features that others of us have depended on for years and have made the software much more cumbersome to use in general. I’m not going to write out all of my complaints because I submitted them directly with detailed information and screenshots about the many problems. But it would be nice to hear from the Clarviate team what the roadmap is for addressing these many issues with the new versions.


I support the previous contributors. In addition, although this may have been mentioned previously: I used to be able to see an abstract when clicking on an article title. Now, the program goes to a URL which is slower and, when traveling and with poor internet connections, an additional burden.

totally agree with the sentiment. I have not “upgraded” from 20 to 21 as my 20 is at least moderately functional. I really worry that it will break even more. I have >11,000 references in my library and I fear they will go “poof” one day and not be able to use them.

If we look at other software that currently exists, nothing is this clunky, unintuitive, non-customizable, finicky and unattractive. This is like software circa 2000.

Three more things that really hacked me off with the change from X9 to 20:

  1. The “show selected references” option is gone. The user can no longer see how many references relate to a particular topic or author.
  2. When the summary window is enabled, the bibliographic style is hidden, and the user has to bring it up. WHYWHYWHY??? The bibliography is the heart and soul of the program. The user should be able to see it instantly.
  3. The user can’t store libraries on a cloud server??? Seriously??? Every large organization ON THE PLANET uses a cloud server now. Conversations with Clarivate seem to indicate that this is an issue they never intend to fix.

Programmers should NEVER remove functionality from a program. Microsquash did that with Excel one time when they removed True Basic support. Users showed up at the gates with pitchforks, so they put it back in. Clarivate needs to get on the stick and fix these problems.

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@richardlotus You already said and nailed what I faced and found terrible in EndNote 21. I have been using EndNote X8 and am doing great except for intermittent update requests. I spent a full 2 days installing and trying this new version, and almost everything is a mess. The background is black, not attractive, and can’t be customized. Syncing disturbs everything and takes a year to complete. There is no abstract preview for articles exported from Google Scholar (although if it is a copyright issue, I can accept it). Finally, I have gone back to my older version, and the good thing is that I didn’t uninstall it.

I disagree with “not attractive” I like a dark interface BUT 100% agree with “and can’t be customized”.

You want it light, I want it dark, others for medial reasons of colour perception etc want different colours. That is apart from those who just “like” other colour pallets (no matter how hideous you, or I might think they are :slight_smile: )

In this day and age the UI colours should be selectable by the user.

Much of my work is photography and video, so I NEED a dark screen (all 3 screens on this computer) so I want other apps I use to match this. Especially when they are open with other apps I am using that are dark.

I couldn’t agree more! After several hours of trying EndNote 21, I uninstalled it and reinstalled EndNote X9. What a waste of time and money!!

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which works, as long as you aren’t using a new mac I guess. Our institute is upgrading all Macs as x9 is not stable with them.

Good Luck. Technically they are quite good, but not for general purpose computers.
I would have though any institute would have looked at the cost/benefit and whole life costs, then gone with PC’s.

Before any Mac fanboys jump on me: I have several Macs, several PCs and two Linux machines here. I am brand agnostic and professionally qualified in electronics and SW

Our institute is not forcing anyone to Macs. I personally use Windows as many do. But they also do not dictate what computers researchers use. We also have Linux machines all over the place. But those that use Macs need Endnote21. I have been trialing it on my (Windows) laptop, and I think I will be able to live with it. They are also not forcing anyone to update Endnote - so those on Windows with no issues, don’t have to. As the resource that even our IT comes to when Endnote is not performing as expected, I do always try to be familiar with the newest release. I will let you know after the Maintenance window this weekend, how many calls get referred to me! Fingers crossed it goes smoothly.

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Hello Leanne, I think that’s part of the problem: EndNote originated as an Apple program, and always adheres to their particular specifications - like this change in database format X9.2 => X9.3. And this IMHO terrible new design is made for iPads, not everyday workhorses on much more widely used desktop windows machines (and let’s not get started on Linux in academia). Many of the abovementioned problems I totally agree with, like not opening windows upon doubleclicking a reference, not being able to open two files side-by-side, limitations in search parameter selection, no on-premise cloud version, etc.

Really a pain is their having made the Find Duplicates function utterly unusable (wonder why I don’t hear more about this from others?) – in totally unpredictable fashion EndNote 21 just crashes without warning after the first round, maybe after the third, maybe the fifth, you never know, regardless of the number of references in the database, the amount of RAM, the computer/laptop used, the location of the database, in Windows 10 as in 11 (tested all that) – and I really need this function as I am tasked with harmonizing a number of working group databases into one departmental one.

I have therefore managed to arrange for our IT department to keep EndNote X9.2 running (never mind the expiration date for online synchronisation, which as a non-US federal research institute we are not allowed to use anyway – and this lack of an on-premise version even has them serously looking into Citavi now).

I’m afraid there’s growing dysfunction now in a program I’ve been using since the late 1980s (then some 350 kB on a floppy disk :slightly_smiling_face:), pity that …

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Yes, me too- I had it on the DOS computer and that was before Endnote was even Endnote Plus for me! There were some functionalities they incorporated just for me!

Does any employees/staff ever reply here in the forum?

Yes, but rarely identify themselves. I know because I had one reply to me by message.

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