In the market for a document editing tool or collaboration software? You don’t have to look too far. There are a number of solutions available online these days. In fact, there’s a tool out there designed for virtually every type of user — whether you’re an individual looking to make some quick edits or someone who has been tasked with editing and collaborating on thousands of documents.
“Document collaboration” is a term that refers to the ability for users of small and large businesses (and in some cases even individuals) to work together on building documents. Document collaboration tools are not new, but they have historically been expensive and difficult to use. The growing demand for lower cost alternatives has led to an explosion in the number of free online document collaboration applications available today. And while it is true that many do not offer the same features as their paid counterparts, there are many “freebies” which provide enough power for many users’ needs.
When it comes to document editing, you want to be sure that you’re using a program that is effective and efficient. Nothing can be more frustrating than wasted time trying to polish your documents, only to find out they are still full of mistakes. Luckily, you’ve found a list of the best free online collaborative document editing software in no particular order. Read on for more information.
Document collaboration is a type of online collaboration where documents are shared, edited, and viewed amongst participants. Document collaboration tools allow users to create and participate in virtual meetings, webinars and training sessions with the help of a central document that’s been uploaded by the organizer. Document collaboration tools can be used for many different professional applications including; design and creative projects, managing projects and tasks, editing technical documentation and creating manuals, presentations or slideshows.
What is Document Collaboration Software?
Document collaboration software allows teams to collaborate remotely on the same document in real-time. This document could be a text file, spreadsheet or PDF.
Multiple team members can simultaneously edit, update and comment on a document, making the document a true team effort. The right document collaboration software prevents version conflicts and is able to handle multiple, real-time edits.
Document collaboration software eliminates the need to save multiple versions of the same file, as all version history is stored in the editor. Users can revert back to a previous version at any time.
Dropbox Paper is an online collaboration tool that fosters team collaboration through file sharing.
But is there a reason why we dropped this collaborative software to the bottom of our list?
Dropbox Paper key features
- To-do lists with due dates to help your team with planning
- Timelines with project milestones to map out every step of a project
- Rich media integration allows you to create dynamic documents
- The note-taking feature gives your team a personal planning space
- Team @mentions increase comment visibility for collaboration
Dropbox Paper pros
- You can zoom in and out of timelines to view weekly and yearly plans
- The timelines tool is customizable, which helps improve team organization
- Suitable tool for writers who need content collaboration
- Offers templates to help you get started quickly
Dropbox Paper cons
- No offline mode available
- Creates a new file every time multiple users are viewing a file and someone saves changes
- Limited formatting options
Dropbox Paper pricing
This document collaboration tool has a free plan with paid plans starting from $15/user per month.
Dropbox Paper user ratings
- G2: 4.1/5 (4400+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.4/5 (100+ reviews)
ONLYOFFICE is an open-source collaborative office that comes in all shapes and sizes: on-premises and in the cloud, as a full-stack Workspace or as separate ONLYOFFICE Docs, desktop and mobile editors, for businesses of any scale and for personal use.
ONLYOFFICE key features
- Collaborative editors for text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations
- Ability to create PDF forms online
- Track changes, mentions, version history, document comparison
- Built-in document chat, Telegram and Jitsi plugins
- Advanced sharing permissions (commenting, reviewing, form filling, custom filtering) and external link access
- Private rooms for end-to-end encrypted document collaboration
- Document management along with projects, email, CRM, calendar
- Maximum MS Office compatibility with both cloud and self-hosted versions
- Advanced security features and third-party services integration
- Free personal plan as well as desktop and mobile apps
- Open source
- In case you prefer to work with ODF formats, these files are converted to OOXML
The cloud version of ONLYOFFICE Workspace is free for small teams with up to 5 users. A Business plan starts at $4 per user/month.
ONLYOFFICE user ratings
- G2: 4.3/5 (30+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.5/5 (300+ reviews)
It has the most customizable interface of any tool on this list, allowing users to create their own sidebar file organization system, add action items, and create tags and labels for files.
In addition to standard features like live co-authoring and editing, Notion provides version history, unlimited team member access to documents, and multiple view options.
It’s ideal for companies who need to consolidate the number of collaboration software programs they’re currently using, but still, need project collaboration features.
Additional Notion features include:
- Distraction-free interface
- Mobile and desktop versions
- Keyboard shortcuts
- User tagging
- Commenting feature
- Due dates
- Drag-and-drop content organization
- Kanban board and to-do list formats
- Template library
Pricing and Plans
Notion offers one free plan and three paid plans, billed monthly or annually. The most important file collaboration tools come with the Team or Enterprise plans.
|Features||Personal Plan||Personal Pro||Team Plan||Enterprise Plan|
|Cost||Free||$4.00/user per month||$8.00/user per month||Unlisted|
|Android and iOS Mobile App||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Guest Access||5 maximum||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Commenting and Real-Time Editing||X||X||✓||✓|
Adjectives like monotonous, boring, dull, or tedious pop up when people think of Mondays, but Monday.com aims to change the entire notion. Monday is tailor-made to suit the needs of employees working on a team project. Teams can create personalized workflows, and Monday intelligently adapts itself to best suit the team’s needs.
Monday is perfect for businesses of all sizes and comes in with a plethora of features.
- Gives you the flexibility to assign tasks to the team members and track the progress of each member. This feature eliminates the lack of workload clarity while working on an online project.
- Their user interface is clean and lets you visualize the bigger picture through its intuitive and user-friendly layout.
- Tag team members using @, which significantly eases communication. Team members no longer need to communicate through lengthy emails for the slightest needs.
- Integrate all the applications under one roof to make it a one-stop destination for team projects. You can bring in files from Google Drive, Dropbox, and more using Monday.
- Not limited to a single platform; instead, the platform makes sure you have access to your project on all major platforms. Currently, Monday is available on the Web, Android, iPhones, and iPads.
ClickUp is an all-in-one application that aims to ease team collaboration projects with its specialized feature set. Its fully customizable and unique features make it a must-have for businesses of all sizes. You can easily manage group tasks, documents, reminders, goals, calendars, and more using ClickUp.
You also get messaging functionality where you can send individual or group messages on the same platform.
Some perks of using this platform include:
- You get eight different view options to manage team collaboration projects.
- There are times when a team member is working on multiple projects simultaneously. ClickUp allows you to create custom editable statuses for every individual project.
- It is a perfect tool for admins as they can assign tasks to multiple members simultaneously. Admins can track every assigned task using the table view and multitask functionality.
- ClickUp uses SCRUM methodology to provide informative yet straightforward insight into different parameters across the platform.
- The third-party integrations are seamless, and the platform lets you bring in files from all popular applications.
Try ClickUp to see how it helps.
Zoho is yet another feature-packed cloud-based word processing tool that syncs your documents in real-time. Zoho makes sure your MS Word documents get imported to the platform without any formatting errors. Also, Zoho lets you collaborate on team projects using their real-time sharing features. As you share your documents with other team members, you can see their cursor movement and the edits they make.
Some perks of using Zoho Writer include:
- The cloud-based nature of Zoho makes team collaborations efficient and swift.
- The documents you create on Zoho don’t occupy local system storage and instead get stored on Cloud.
- The real-time sync feature makes sure your documents never get tampered with in case of a calamity.
- Zoho features a fresh UI with easy navigation to all the vital word processing options.
- Administrators can control the access rights of every member in a team project and grant permissions to specific functions as well.
Dropbox Paper is an online doc for team collaboration from the tech giant Dropbox itself. It is a no-brainer that Dropbox Paper comes with a lot more perks if your team largely depends on Dropbox to store files. Teams can easily organize documents, assign tasks, create systematic workflows, and collaborate on projects.
Moreover, the task management tools in Dropbox Paper greatly ease functions that would otherwise become complicated in an online scenario. The platform lets you mention other group members, assign tasks to others, and efficiently manage your to-dos. Some exciting features of this platform include:
- You can exchange a wide variety of multimedia on Dropbox Paper, like YouTube links, GIFs, Pinterest boards, Locations on Google Maps, audio from SoundCloud, and many more.
- Paper supports embedded previews of Inversion and Sketch files. Also, you can convert your documents into PPTs without using a third-party application.
- You can choose a template for your project from the vast template library on Dropbox Paper. There are numerous templates for brainstorming, product launches, product specifications, bug tracking projects, and more.
- Dropbox Paper comes with the option to connect your calendar to the platform. Your entire work schedule gets synced onto the platform. Paper then adapts itself, providing access to agendas, background documents, task assignments, and meeting events directly through the application.
- The mobile application gives you the feature to capture images using the camera and give feedback.
Significance of Document Collaboration in Business
Track your team’s workflow
When you use a document collaboration tool, it makes it easy to keep track of what everyone in your team is working on. You can view all the files that are currently being edited and ensure that deadlines are being met.
When employees have the right software to share their files and collaboratively edit, their productivity is improved. Less time is wasted hunting around for the right document and all files are stored right there in the cloud. Since more than one person can edit a file at a time, this speeds up the process of collaborating on a document and prevents version conflicts.
Empower employees with information
Employees have access to the right information with a document collaboration tool at their fingertips. Your important documents are all stored in one place and a quick search is all it takes to find the right file.
Provide faster feedback and quick decision making
When information is readily available to employees, they can gain feedback more quickly and make more rapid-fire decisions. All employees need to do is share a link to a document and they can collect feedback in real-time. There’s no more messing around with emails and multiple versions of a document.
Open communication with teams
Document collaboration tools facilitate open communication within teams. It can be easier to share your thoughts in a document rather than wasting time in long meetings, and documents can be shared with the rest of the team to encourage their input.
Encourage employee involvement
Employees will get more involved in their teams if they have access to the right document collaboration tool. The best tools on the market don’t have any barrier to entry and employees can quickly get up to speed with how the software works. It’s easy for anyone to share feedback on a document and make updates.
Supports remote working easily
With a document collaboration tool, employees don’t need to be in the same physical location to collaborate on a project. The software can usually be accessed on any device and all you need is an internet connection to collaborate on files.
Eliminate organizational silos
When you store your documents in a document collaboration tool, you’re making your company knowledge explicit. Teams will work better together as they have insight into what other teams are working on.
Document collaboration tools are ideal for corporate users and small businesses that want to collaborate with others to create, edit and share documents. Using these software tools you can upload files from your computer or directly from common web browsers. You can arrange files in a virtual workspace and invite people to work on the documents together. Recently many companies have started using document collaboration tools due to their ease of use and flexible functionality.
Nowadays, people (especially business owners) are aware of the importance of online collaborative tools. This is why there have been so many developments in the last few years. Many different types of tools have appeared on the market, each with its main purpose – to make collaboration easy and fast.