FAQ: How to Recover Your EndNote Library

June 23 – Marie


I recently discovered one of my EndNote Libraries was deleted by accident. I had called the library yoga. I noticed the only file left in my EndNote Libraries folder under My Documents was yoga.data What is this file and can it help me to recreate my yoga EndNote Library.


Yes, we can attempt to recreate your EndNote Library using the yoga.data folder. “.DATA” folders are created for each EndNote Library you make and contain contents that go along with your library such as PDF article full-text or images you may have attached within an EndNote citation or reference field.

  • Open either Word pad or Note pad on your computer.
  • A blank document is present. Do not type anything in it.
  • Go to the top Menu and choose File > Save As.
  • Save the blank document with the same name as your Endnote.data file, adding .enl to the name IN THE SAME AREA ON YOUR COMPUTER where the .data file exists. In this case you will name the file to be saved yoga.enl

The yoga.enl file now should appear with an EndNote icon. Double click to open it and see your recreated yoga library.



Background Info from EN re: .DATA file

Database 5: When I look in the folder where my library is saved I see the library as well as a folder that has the same name as my library, followed by “.Data”. What is this folder? Can I delete it?

Answer: With EndNote 8 and later, this .Data folder contains the library data structure, and should not be deleted. If you remove the .Data folder, the EndNote program will attempt to rebuild the .Data folder contents based on the information in the .enl library file. However, you will lose any customized term lists. If you are moving your library from one location to another, you will want to move both the .enl library file and the .Data folder to the new location.

If you are moving just the .enl file from one computer to another, and a .Data folder is already present on the destination computer, the EndNote program will read the database information from the existing .Data folder and not the updated .enl file. So, if you are not transferring the .Data folder with EndNote 8 or later, you may not actually update the library on the destination computer.

In all versions of EndNote this .Data folder contains any objects or images you have inserted into the Image field of a reference. If you delete this folder, or move the library without moving the .Data folder, you will lose these objects or images.



39 Responses

  1. Very good indeed; restored my large (4000+) enl. library within a blink of an eye – and made my day. Will definitely back up.

  2. OH my god! you saved my life! I had two years research disappear, and this fix worked – How it went bad in the first place or how this works is beyond me, but thank god it did. I love you!!!!

    • same here!!! It was my thesis references library which disappeared for no reason. This trick restored it. So relieved. Thank you!!!

  3. I tried this fix with a corrputed endNote database and the file size indicates that teh data has been restored but somehow endNote is not able to recognise anyof it and so recommends repairing/restoring the database. When I do it still doesn’t allow opening the database. So am stuck with this one. Any suggestions?

  4. i had recovered my all data. Thank you for your brightness^^

  5. For all those struggeling to recover enlp database:

    1. back up the file
    2. rename it to mylibrary.enlx
    3. go to tools and recovery
    4. go to mylibrary.enlx folder (new folder)
    4. choose mylibrary.enl v new folder
    5. open new library file (mylibrary-saved.enl)

    Hope it helps.


  6. Thanks lot!
    You saved another life.
    I lost one of my libraries when I forced a shut down on my imac. It was an annotated bibliography very important for a research paper.

    Thanks for ever

  7. I don´t understand. 😀

  8. […] blog is really good, thank God, I managed to recover 173 of my references (at least I got something). I […]

  9. Thank you!

  10. AMAZING!

  11. Could someone explain?

    •Open either Word pad or Note pad on your computer.
    •A blank document is present. Do not type anything in it.
    •Go to the top Menu and choose File > Save As.
    •Save the blank document with the same name as your Endnote.data file, adding .enl to the name IN THE SAME AREA ON YOUR COMPUTER where the .data file exists. In this case you will name the file to be saved yoga.enl
    The yoga.enl file now should appear with an EndNote icon. Double click to open it and see your recreated yoga library.

    I might be stupid, but what?

    You save an empty word document as what?
    as .data or .enl?

    And where do I save it?
    To the programs some some folder, or where I have the library?

  12. Hello:
    I just upgraded to X5. Thanks so much for your site and post. I have used Endnote a long time and over time I have forgotten a few things. I had always kept the data folder but over time I apparently misplaced the .enl file, and forgot about it. Once I uninstalled the X4 version and upgraded, I found I could not locate my library when I opened a document. Fortunately I found your site and just created a Wordpad rich text document and did what you suggest above with naming it and including the .enl extension and got everything back. The X5 program also asked me if I wanted to associate the data file and did that for me and Viola! Thought I was going to have a heart attack initially when the library was not to be found ! Thanks again !

  13. thank you soooo much! you saved my life in 2 minutes :DD

  14. Thank you!

  15. You are my hero.

  16. Hi Everyone! I’m using the endnote X5 program on a PC and tried to restore my library as suggested in the previous posts. Unfortunately if I save the word pad with the .enl extension in a rich text format it just appears as a word document and nothing has changed. Do I have to save it in a different format?

    • See my post along with others..a little additional detail:
      So, I created a word pad rich text document in the endnote folder where my data folder for the library was. In my case I called it “JSS Merged MSK and Main Library-Converted” and then changed the file extension to .enl. When I did this I got a warning that changing the extension may make the file unusable. I did it anyway. Then I was cautioned by endnote about creating an .enl file without the associated data. Of course, I wanted the data so indicated that. The file was then created.

  17. It does not Work 😦 I managed to create the new .enl document but when I try to open it , endnote keeps repeating that I am trying to open a library without the associated Data folder – even thought the data folder is right next to it and has the same name as the enl file.
    I am going crazy!! How can I associate the two?

    • The original fix did not work for me either, so I saved the (corrupted) .enl file into a new folder on its own (ie without the .data folder). I then opened this .enl file – I received the warnings that opening a file without the associated .dat folder is dangerous, blah blah. I went ahead, it opened perfectly, and it created a new .dat folder. I too will be more vigilent about backups from now on! BTW, I just went back to Endnote 5 because 6 was freezing my Word all the time. Seems like maybe 4 was the most stable….

      • This worked in my case also, but stopping there I would have lost quite a bit of information, including custom terms lists, the information on when I had updated which reference, and groups I created. All this information is stored in the files in the rdb folder in the .Data folder. In my case, a disk failure had meant that one of the files in there got deleted. Simply replacing that file (after comparison with the files in the .Data folder that Endnote created when I opened the “damaged” library on its own) with an empty (!) file (will not work for all of these files) restored everything to life for me.

  18. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou. There is no way I believed this could work but it did!

  19. I attach PDF file to a new reference I create unlike other professors who I have seen keeps the PDF files in a separate folder and does not attach. I have wondered which is a better practice – attaching the PDF file to the new reference record or keeping it separate? Can someone please also share how big Endnote file have they managed till date without crashing?

    • Hi Sumantra,

      I would keep the PDFs in an EndNote library because you can put notes, highlight sentences, save and share them with other researchers. It is also easier for retrieval.

      • I agree – it is easy for retrieval and I like it too. But my concern is (and it has happened to me once) the bigger the Endnote library gets – he riskier it becomes to crash and then all the links of the PDFs in the references don’t work. So the question is how big Endnote library with PDFs is good to manage?

  20. WOW. I was on the verge of tears… How easy was that? Thanks so much…

  21. I had a similar issue on my mac, EndNote X6. Somehow my 1600 reference library got corrupted and needless to say I was panicking (had pdf annotated and many references manually imported and filled out). Anyway, the classic recovery that EndNote and people on here reference didn’t work for me.

    I ended up copying my .enlp file to a new folder (keeping the original as a backup, despite being corrupted). I right-clicked and selected “show package contents”. I deleted the .DATA file and opened the .enl file. EndNote popped up a warning and I clicked ok. Now at this point I have the reference info but no pdfs and they are not sorted into nice folders.

    Next I deleted the “pdf” folder in the new .DATA file and copied the pdf folder from my backup into this new .DATA file. I opened the .enl file and I now had pdfs, which is great but they are not organized at all. Next, I tried to copy the files in the “rdb” folder but I got the old corrupt error message. This tells me a file in this folder is the issue. I proceeded to move 3 files at a time from the backup to the new folder. Turns out the “csort” files were messed up. I am using the csort files that EndNote created when I rebuilt the database so I don’t know what I lost but it looks like it used to and my dissertation is saved.

    I hope this helps anyone having a similar issue.

  22. Thanks, Thanks, Thanks… you saved my life !

  23. Thanks, Thanks, Thanks… you saved my life ! x 10000

  24. OMG you just saved my life. Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  25. thank you so much for this!!! i was on leave for a few months and someone probably deleted my endnote library by accident from our shared drive but thank goodness the .data folder was still there! i didn’t know what to do with over 10 years of saved references gone and nowhere to be found. even our IT couldn’t recover the file so i googled and found this website. what a lifesaver!!! a million thanks!!

  26. thanks….it helped me recovering my endnote library.

  27. hi
    i am using a trial version of endnote 8 and i just tried to open Endnote and it gave me the following message : “This library appears to be damaged. please verify that no other user has this library open simultaneously with write access. if this error persists after restarting endnote, please repair library using “recover library” under “Tools”.”
    i tried restarting endnote and recovery but nothing works.
    i has named the library “thesis” now that i open mmy documents there is only a folder called “My Endnote Library.data”
    please help

    • Hi Jessica,

      Sorry to hear that you are experiencing problems with EndNote. I would recommend that you contact EndNote Technical Support at 1-800-336-4474 for help. If you are affiliated with Rutgers, you may stop by the RWJ Library or call the library for troubleshooting. Thank you. –Yingting

  28. Thanks, help me a lot. Thought I had lost all my references

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