5 Free Cloud-Based Document Collaboration Tools to Power Your Productivity

Entrepreneurs who work with clients across the globe and small businesses with workers in home offices and remote locations don’t miss a beat today with the proliferation of cloud based collaboration tools. Here are five FREE tools with editing and sharing capabilities.


We’ve written about Evernote. Heck, we even did a Tech Tutorial video on the application. But it’s more than just a place to capture, store and organize information. Share a notebook by emailing team members, or post to Twitter and Facebook. I use Evernote daily .

Google Docs

Share online documents, presentations, and spreadsheet with Google Docs. Create a document and give your team, colleagues or clients access by inviting them via email. Multiple users can edit the document at the same time and it’s updated in real time. You can even append comments to a document. And this year, Google rolled out discussions within the document. Now you can easily tell who made a comment and when—with timestamps and profile pictures—and you can keep track of the conversation. I also use this application daily.


Another favorite of ours is MindMeister, a web-based mind-mapping tool. It gets the right brain involved in the collaboration process by visualizing your thoughts and ideas with maps. Create a map and share your creation by inviting team members by email, or with a unique, secure direct link. Like Google Apps, you can work simultaneously with the team on the same project and see changes as they happen.


I came across this new web-based application recently and signed up for a free account. it looks fantastic.

Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. It tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process. All your projects, all your tasks, all of your team–organized, accounted for, and easily visible at a glance.

I’ll continue to explore this tool. If you’ve used it and have more to add, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

WordPress Blog

WordPress is one of the most widely used blogging platforms. But a document collaboration tool? WordPress comes in two flavors, WordPress.org, the self-hosted version, like this blog, and WordPress.com which is hosted on their servers. Both are free to use, but you need to sign up with a web host for the self-hosted version. Although WordPress.org offers a wide array of useful themes and plugins to customize a site, for our purposes, WordPress.com will do.

After you’ve quickly set up a WordPress account, create a new blog and adjust the settings to “private”. Next, add your colleagues, clients or team members. You’ll be asked for their name and email address and to assign a role of editor or author. Editors can add, edit or remove any content and Authors can only add, change or remove their own content. Now all team members can create and share text, images and videos.

Did we miss your favorite tool? Please share in the comments below.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/3632325213)

10 Responses to “5 Free Cloud-Based Document Collaboration Tools to Power Your Productivity”

  1. Edwin Jackson

    As always a great and quick summary of some nice tools. I would also mention dropbox which everybody knows about but some might not think of a collaboration tool. In fact it can be a collaboration tool and I used it for just that purpose recently. Until recently I kept forgetting about DB, but lately I have been finding more and more uses for it – plus it’s one app that most folks seem to have – even if they don’t use it all the time.

    • lportx

      Dropbox is huge and a lot of attorneys are hopping on. What a lot of people forget is that it’s not just a great way to backup and keep your files in synch across devices, it’s also a great way to share documents!

    • tim

      Thanks, Edwin! Agree guys, that Dropbox is a terrific tool. I use the free version and it saved me when my hard drive failed. It was part of my original list, but was a last minute cut since I was looking for collaborative editing and well as sharing.

  2. Adina

    Great shortlist of tools. I would also mention document review tools. Legal pros can use such tools to collaborate and improve productivity. Did you have the chance to test Agilewords? http://www.agilewords.com

  3. Use WordPress Blog to Collaborate on Private Documents

    […] was faced with a challenge recently: Create a forum where members of a national association can view and comment on documents. Thing is, the documents had to be private and available to association members […]

  4. Gerd Meissner

    Nice shortlist, Tim! As a “bonus” tip re. your # 1, may I point out that with the Postach.io app, you can turn an Evernote notebook into a blog.
    All it takes then is to tag individual Evernote notes “published” to turn them into a blog post.
    More here: How to Create a Blog from Evernote Notes

  5. John

    I still dont get it. Why is Evernote more useful than just emailing your co workers ?


  6. William Cumpiano

    Google Docs works great until it doesn’t. It’s revision history function persistently crashes, a huge bug that users have been complaining about since 2010, but still persists in 2014. Many users lost a lot of data.

  7. Bob Laws

    I’ve been trying. We need to share documents between different instructors and parents on different servers in different towns, using different software. Didn’t like MS Office 360, bz the sysadmin has to set up accounts.

    Didn’t like Google Drive bz you have to open the files in a Google sponsored app. MS Office isn’t on the list that I could find. How is that going to work?

  8. Paul Chbt

    Hi, did you hear of http://www.zenintra.net ? In terms of collaborative tools, this intranet enables you to access different features with a single login (crm, file sharing, leave management, expenses management). Zenintranet is 100% free…


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