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Best Document Management Software for Ease of Use

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Our 2020 research and analysis of document management systems leads us to recommend M-Files as the best document management system for ease of use. We chose M-Files from dozens of document management systems we considered for its familiar user interface and low learning curve.

To learn how we arrived at our best picks and for a comprehensive list of document management systems, visit our best picks page.


Editor's note: Looking for a document management system for your business? To help you choose the one that's right for you, fill out the questionnaire below for more information from our vendor partners.

M-Files' price is based on the needs of your business (such as how many users you need to add to the system) and if you go with an on-premises system, cloud system or hybrid. You'll need to contact M-Files for a custom quote for your business. There are four plans to choose from – Core, Standard, Professional and Enterprise – each of which has a different set of features. You can download a trial version to see if M-Files is a good fit for your company before you commit to buying.

All M-Files plans have some access to useful features, though the higher plans include more advanced tools in each of these categories. Here's a closer look at the major features M-Files has to offer.

M-Files works in tandem with your scanner. It examines scanned documents with optical character recognition, which automates the metatag process and categorizes scanned files for you. You can add more metatags manually if needed. The automation process is especially useful for businesses transitioning from a paper archive to a digital one, because it rapidly translates thousands of paper documents into an organized digital filing cabinet without much human effort. Once documents have been sorted by M-Files' OCR feature and stored in the platform, they are searchable. M-Files has a built-in search engine, so by plugging in a few keywords, you can locate even scanned documents.

You can automate certain workflows – including review and approval notifications for contracts, standard operating procedures, and file categorization – to keep your office running smoothly and save time. By streamlining workflows, this document management application lets your employees focus on higher-order tasks, improving efficiency and productivity, especially during large document migration projects.

Versioning is another highly useful feature of the software. M-Files keeps a record of each document's history, including when it was last opened, who opened it and what changes they made. This makes it much easier to keep tabs on evolving documents, often providing a document history all the way back to when the document was first created.

The permissions feature allows administrators to set different levels of access for certain users. For example, managers in the human resources department might require access to each employee contract, while the typical employee should not be able to see these. M-Files offers a range of permissions that allow you to tailor access and editing ability to each employee's role within the organization. You can also give certain users priority over others – so that edits by a manager or executive take precedence over those by entry-level employees, for example.

You and your team members can designate certain files for offline use if you anticipate that you will be without internet access when you need to work on them. Files can be designated for offline use by project, file type or client. The designated files are then available on the user's laptop or mobile device. Any changes the user makes while they're offline will automatically sync across all users once its network access is restored.

You can share files seamlessly with colleagues, clients and relevant third parties directly in the M-Files interface, so you don't need to send email attachments every time a document is updated. M-Files integrates with Microsoft Outlook as well, enabling you to simply transfer email attachments directly to the M-Files drive.

M-Files is easy-to-use, comprehensive document management software that includes digital filing functions and productivity systems. It has features for both small businesses and enterprises, making it a scalable solution for growing companies. The software can store many documents and provides a straightforward classification system for organization. Its effective search capabilities let you quickly zero in on the precise document you're looking for. 

M-Files' user interface is simple to navigate, replicating the familiar feel of the Windows File Explorer layout on PCs. It includes functions that most users are comfortable with, like copying and sharing files with a simple right-click and drag-and-drop function. The familiar style of the interface reduces the cost and burden of training employees to use M-Files, so you can get up and running quickly once the software is implemented.

Mac users will see a lot of crossover between M-Files' interface and Mac Finder. One major difference, though, is that M-Files doesn't require the same type of folder categorization. Instead, documents include metatags, which can make searching for and locating specific documents an easy process.

After installation, M-Files appears as an additional drive on your computer. As with any other drive, you can drag and drop files into M-Files. You can access documents stored in M-Files and copy them to any other drive, creating local copies if needed. You can also create and save documents from any other program directly into M-Files, just as you would with any other drive.

M-Files is supported on Windows and macOS, but Linux users can access M-Files through the web-based version. Supported web browsers include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Safari. M-Files' mobile application is supported on iOS 9 and later, as well as Android 4.4 and later.

M-Files is a hybrid of cloud and on-premises storage, meaning you can access your documents from nearly any internet-connected device through a browser. However, you still need to install software and grant permission to the device (and other applications) for it to recognize M-Files as a location you can save documents to.

M-Files catalogs several metatags on a document to categorize it, and this facet of the software has a slight learning curve. To make the document easier to find with M-Files' search engine, you and your employees will need to add your own specialized tags, especially if your business deals with a high volume of documents. This way of filing may take a little getting used to for those accustomed to traditional methods of organizing digital documents.

Ready to choose a document management system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:


Editor's note: Looking for a document management system for your business? To help you choose the one that's right for you, fill out the questionnaire below for more information from our vendor partners.

Additional reporting by Chad Brooks and Andreas Rivera.

Adam Uzialko

Adam C. Uzialko, a New Jersey native, graduated from Rutgers University in 2014 with a degree in political science and journalism and media studies. He reviews healthcare information technology, call centers, document management software and employee monitoring software. In addition to his full-time position at 黄色视频软件,日本淫片 and business.com, Adam freelances for several outlets. An indispensable ally of the feline race, Adam is owned by four lovely cats.