EndNote: library issues

EndNote Library Error

Error opening library

Always have a backup of your EndNote library and current Word document.

First check the library location. EndNote libraries should be stored on the local computer hard drive. If located in a cloud location (Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud or even network drive), the library can become corrupted and the normal recovery options may not work. See Help page > Installation > Moving from iCloud or DropBox

If your library is synced to EndNote Online, you can recover by creating a new blank library with a NEW name to a safe folder location. Then Sync that library. It will download the Online content into the new lilbrary. WAIT for the sync to finish before making changes to the library. The record numbers will change so make sure to update citations and bibliography when opening a linked Word document: Syncing a Word document

For non synced libraries, the following steps can be used:
Standard Recovery:

With the library closed, in EndNote go to "Tools > Recover Library". Click OK to the notice that comes up, then select the library file you would like to recover (you may need to browse to the folder on your computer in which the library is located). After selecting your library, you will be prompted to save the new library that will be created. By default, EndNote will add "-Saved" to the end of the original name. After this, the recovery process will begin.

Once completed, EndNote will inform you of the number of references that were recovered into the Saved library. You can now use this Saved version of the library in place of the original, damaged library.

Advanced Recovery Options:

Make sure that the library is located in a safe location on the local drive.

If the standard recovery does not work, you can try these steps on the Windows side:

  1. Right click on the .Data folder and select Properties.
  2. Uncheck the "Read-Only" box.
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. Make sure both Archive and Index options are checked ("Folder is ready for archiving" and "Allow files in this folder to have contents indexed in addition to file properties.")
  5. Make sure both "Compress or Encrypt attributes" are unchecked ("Compress contents to save disk space" and "Encrypt contents to secure data.")
  6. Click OK to close the Advanced Properties.
  7. Click OK again to close the Properties.
  8. When prompted to confirm, make sure the option to "Apply changes to this folder, subfolders and files" is checked and click OK.


Once this is done, try the standard recovery process above.

On the Mac:

Best to make sure the library is located in the Home folder. See this link: Moving library to Home folder

If there is still an issue, follow the instructions on the Apple support page: https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT203538
Instructions for rebuilding the library with just the .Data folder. Creating a new .enl file:
There are occasions where the normal library recovery won't work or won't be enough. Specifically, if you are noticing that your EndNote library searches, Cite While You Write is not finding the right reference or sorting is not working properly. In these cases, it may be necessary to recover the library with just the .Data folder portion while creating a new .enl file.

Additional information about the .Data folder can be found in this article.

  1. First, create a new folder on your desktop (Right click in empty space on the desktop and choose New/Folder).
  2. Locate the library in your machine through Windows Explorer.
  3. Copy the .Data folder for your library into a new folder on your desktop by itself. ( On the Mac, use the new folder created in Home if created ).
  4. In the folder you moved the .Data folder into, create a new text file ( Windows: Right click in empty space of the desktop and choose New/Text Document. Mac: Open TextEdit ).
  5. Rename the text file, with the extension, to the name of the original .enl file.

If you do not see the .txt at the end of the file name, you will need to change your Windows preferences to show the extensions.

  1. In the folder, go to the Tools menu on top. If you don't see the tools menu, tap the Alt key on your keyboard once.
  2. Go to Folder Options.
  3. Go to the View tab.
  4. Uncheck the box labeled,"Hide extensions for known file types."
  5. Press Ok.
  6. Rename the text file, with the extension, to the name of the original .enl file.


  1.  In the Menu bar, go to Finder > Preferences.
  2. Click on the Advanced tab.
  3. Select the box that says “Show all filename extensions”.

Run the recover library on the newly created .enl file.
If your library files are:

Move MyEndNoteLibrary.Data to a new folder
Create a new text file in the same folder you moved the MyEndNoteLibrary.Data folder to. This file will be called:
New Text Document.txt
Rename from
New Text Document.txt
Recover the MyEndNoteLibrary.enl using the normal steps at the top of this page.