E-Filing Technical Information

PDF and Web Browser Tips:

Computer hardware and software requirements for CM/ECF:

In order to file electronically and/or view and retrieve case documents, you’ll need the following:

  • A personal computer with a standard operating system such as Windows or Macintosh
  • Internet access
  • Web browser: Internet Explorer; Mozilla Firefox (Recommended browser for CM/ECF is Firefox). Note: Safari web browser on a Macintosh does not work well with ECF.
  • Word processing software like WordPerfect or Word.
  • Software like Adobe Acrobat Writer or pdfFactory to convert documents from word processor to portable document format (PDF) – the only file format ECF will accept. Many free pdf writers are available on line.
  • A scanner to convert documents that are not on your word processor. Note: Using a scanner is a last resort and should only be used for documents that you cannot produce with your wordprocessor. Scanned documents are memory hogs and slow down the entire system. We are moving away from using scanned documents and ask you to do the same. 
  • A PACER account if you want to file electronically, or do more than take your one and only free peek at a filed document, such as run queries or reports. Also, you need a PACER account if you receive e-notices for Social Security cases.


To Minimize File Size and Save Storage, Upload and Review Time for CM/ECF Filers

Please follow these general guidelines for scanning documents. The consequences of poor or incorrect scanning configuration are significantly increased file size - typically 20 to 40 time resulting in the following problems:

  • Increased storage requirements on the enduser’s PC, the CM/ECF server, and the accompanying backup systems, resulting in general slower than necessary processing of such files.
  • Vastly increased network traffic both locally and through the user’s Internet Service Provider, typically resulting in with very slow file upload times, possibly resulting in file rejection.
  • Extremely slow response from CM/ECF as multiple users attempt to upload / download large files, sometimes resulting in file rejection.
  • A very slow download and file opening when attempting to read large files already uploaded into CM/ECF.
  • The optimal method for creating a PDF document for filing in CM/ECF is to create it directly from a word processing program such as Word, WordPerfect, or Adobe Acrobat. PDF files created in this way have two advantages: they are much smaller in size than documents that have been scanned and they are text-searchable. The CM/ECF project team recommends this method for creating a PDF file from a word processing application.
If you MUST scan: 
Fortunately, there are some simple steps and checks to ensure correct scanner software settings:
  • Resolution should be set to 200 dpi, or a maximum 300 dpi.
  • Image type should be set to black and white drawing (NOT gray scale, NOT color).
  • Scanned image output or save as format should be TIF (ideally compressed CCITT4). Check your scanner software manual or Help for information on how to set output type.
A simple test scan should be made and the file converted to PDF ready for upload to CM/ECF. This PDF conversion can be done using one of several software packages but a good example is Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or 6.0 (full package not just the Reader). Simply drag the scanned file onto the Acrobat icon and conversion is automatic. This conversion should NOT significantly increase the file size. Do a last check of the PDF file to make sure! File size can be viewed by simply finding the file through Windows Explorer, left-clicking the icon of the file once to highlight it, then right-clicking and select Properties. The file size will be listed.
If your document is mostly text, it should be no large than about 50 KB per page. At most, a very detailed paged with graphics (e.g. a title) should be no larger than about 200 KB per page.
At 200 dpi this single page scans and converts to about a a 35KB PDF file.
At 300 dpi this single page scans and converts to about a 52KB PDF file.