If you need free document collaboration software to help simplify your work or maybe you to work best when it’s easy to get your thoughts out there, then free document collaboration tools such as Google Docs and Microsoft Word will come really handy. This is great for business owners who need to collaborate quickly and efficiently as well as for students and professionals who need to keep notes on important projects. Keep reading for more tips on how to make the most of your online collaboration experience.
Once I started using free document collaboration online, I noticed an increase in employee efficiency and overall increased productivity. It’s great for collaboration, making it easy to share documents with your team members.
Free Online Document Sharing and Editing
With over 800 million active worldwide users, Google Docs is the most well-known of all the document collaboration software on this list. However, many don’t realize that, in addition to adding comments and making edits to a finished draft, real-time online collaboration is possible with Docs.
Up to 200 people can simultaneously view a Doc, and 10 users can make simultaneous real-time edits. All edits are automatically updated in the same master doc and saved in the cloud, so there is no need to create a new document for every draft. This version control feature prevents teams from making edits to outdated drafts.
Documents are shared via email or through a URL, and team leaders can select which specific employees can directly edit, suggest edits, or have view-only access. The “Live Edits” feature shows real-time, color-coded updates that multiple people have made to a file. Users can track changes to see previous file versions without the new changes and approve or deny edits. They can also make comments in the sidebar, tag each other in these comments, or communicate via chat messaging.
Docs also allow users to save files in multiple formats, including PDF, plain text, web pages, and rich text. It’s a wise choice for teams with a focus on user-friendly software, or for smaller companies that need a free editing tool.
Pricing and Plans
Google Docs can be purchased as a part of the G Suite product package or on its own. The below table compares the prices and plans of the free Google Docs Personal plan and the paid Google Docs Business Plan.
Microsoft 365 (formerly Microsoft Office 365) allows simultaneous users to create and edit documents via SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.
Once a document has been created and saved to the cloud, users can invite other team members to collaborate with them by sending them a link to the file or via email.
As in Google Docs, each user has specific file permissions for accessing the knowledge base, set by the file’s creator. Access can also be controlled via 365 Groups, which divides all users into teams. Each team can be granted or denied access to specific documents, speeding up the collaborative process.
New document changes are automatically synced and can be shown in-line or in the sidebar. Reviewers can track changes made by specific employees only, or see a summary of all new changes a team made. Markups can be previewed before suggested changes are accepted, and reviewers can accept changes en masse or individually.
Just like Google Docs, Zoho Docs also provides tools to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, right in the cloud.
Zoho Docs make document creation, storage, editing, sharing, and collaboration a breeze. Apart from your documents, spreadsheets and presentations, you can even upload your music, movies, and other files to the Zoho cloud and basically take your office wherever you go.
Zoho cloud offers 5Gb free storage space. You can even sync your Windows, Mac, or Ubuntu Linux computers to the cloud and vice-versa and access your files on any computer, both online and offline.
Users also have the ability to organize their files by teams, projects, file types, and authors which makes it easy to access the files quickly.
With Zoho Docs, you can create folders to organize all your documents more effectively. You can even create team groups and share files privately.
Users can set permissions, password-protect their files, or even set an expiration timer after which everyone loses access to the file or document. Zoho Docs also provides the ability to chat with collaborators in real-time to make document editing easier.
Integrations with other cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox add a little more flare to Zoho’s offerings.
Atlassian Confluence is a document collaboration software for teams to communicate internally.
Confluence allows teams to easily create, share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and images. Tracking project progress is a breeze in Confluence.
Team members can share PDFs, docs, images, track every version and changes made to a page, and connect to Jira to provide insight into their development work with automatic linking, quick issue creation, and reports.
With the ability to add inline, file and page comments, you can easily leave feedback without getting lost in your email threads or chat messages. Team members can pin comments on the shared file, add their suggestions or feedback, and can edit office files right from their Confluence dashboard.
Users have the ability to organize and share company information amongst employees and with their customers.
Confluence offers two “power” add-ons, Confluence Calendars and Confluence Questions.
Confluence Calendars adds a central source of truths by offering a single calendar for the entire team. The calendar allows teams to keep track of who’s on leave and for how long, what events or projects are coming up, and switch between four calendar views, list, week, month and timeline. Users also have integration options with Google Calendar, Outlook, and iCal. Confluence Calendars cost $10/month for a team of 10.
Confluence Questions, on the other hand, lets team members ask, vote on, and answer questions collaboratively. All the content posted is searchable to avoid users asking same questions again. Team members can earn points for answering questions and can even earn an “expert” status. The gaming angle makes it fun and encourages people to collaborate and help solve queries. Confluence Questions add on also costs $10/month for up to 10 users.
Confluence is a great collaboration tool, especially if your team already uses Jira and HipChat by Atlassian, as it’s designed to work with those platforms.
Dropbox Paper is a document collaboration editor focused on design teams collaborating internally.
It allows you to add rich media along with text and images to collaborate and work on projects with your team. Add Dropbox files inside the document, YouTube videos, social media posts, and more.
You can easily share a document with someone or add a collaborator by simply clicking the “share” button and invite them to view or edit the document via a custom link. You can also create groups and share documents with your teams, so no one is left behind.
Users can share files individually or by creating groups, manage access to documents, assign tasks to a team member with @mentions and give feedback in real-time.
Dropbox paper has taken time to create custom stickers to add personality and humor to the conversations you have with your teammates.
Dropbox paper is powerful, yet a lightweight alternative to Google Docs and does a good job of being an online collaborative workspace for teams to work internally.
Samepage – The Document Collaboration
Samepage solves your online document sharing and collaboration needs. Samepage is built for real-time document collaboration. Changes you make are instantly available to the whole team no matter where they are or what device they’re on.
Samepage makes it easy for teammates to chat about documents. When people, content, and conversation come together, you have a perfect starting position for excellent task management and project management.
In addition to real-time in-line editing, look for file collaboration tool features like:
- Version history
- Version control
- Track changes
- New changes notifications
- Multiple file formats
- User tagging
- Chat instant messaging
- Pre-made file templates
- App integration
- Mobile device accessibility
- File access control
- Online and offline access
- Scalable file storage space
Benefits of Document Collaboration Tools
When teams have access to a centralized document collaboration tool, they are better able to share information and collaborate on projects. It promotes a more collaborative atmosphere by getting people to talk and engage with one another.
The benefits of using the best document collaboration tools are as follows:
Facilitates better interaction
By eliminating the need to leave the house, remote access accomplishes two things:
Using document sharing and editing software will help you stay ahead of the competition by reducing the amount of time spent on routine administrative tasks. There is no need to wade through mountains of paper to find what you need; document retrieval is a breeze. #finally
2 It makes talking easier
Have you ever been included in a long CC list on a feedback request email?
And here you were thinking, “Eh, someone else will provide feedback.”
The truth is that everyone is probably thinking the same thing and no one will reply to the email.
But without open lines of communication, what good is a team?
With document collaboration software, team members can see each other’s comments in real time, and once one person adds a comment, others are more likely to do the same.
Is your team in need of additional motivation? View our carefully selected collection of wise sayings.
3. Easy Collaboration and Remote Access
When you use a collaboration tool, your team members, whether they’re physically in the office or working remotely, can access the latest version of any file, media, or document from any location, at any time. It’s similar to having a “virtual department” for working together from afar.
I have used many of the free online document-sharing services for my business, but they are very limited in what you can do. I have found that Zoho works best for some company needs. It has all the functionality of paid software without any limits.
All in all, I would highly recommend Google Docs for online document collaboration, especially for businesses that are looking for an affordable and user-friendly solution to their document management problems.