Why you should use a review and approval tool?At this point, collaboration tools to manage reviews and approvals come into play. A professional review and approval tool can help you get feedback three times faster than via email. On top of that, the feedback is precise and unequivocal. When you’re looking for a review and approval tool for your team, there are three questions you need to consider:
- Which file formats does it support? If your team reviews videos, documents, and everything in between, you’ll need a tool that covers all those file types.
- Will it be easy to roll out across the team? Your new review and approval tool isn’t just for your content creators. You need to make it easy for the people giving feedback too.
- How much time and effort will it save the company? Once you’ve found a review and approval tool you’re happy with, you’ll need to show your team that it’s worth the investment.
Filestage – best for ease of useFilestage is a review and approval tool that helps you share, discuss, and approve all your files, all in one place. It starts from $9/seat per month and all plans include unlimited files, versions, and reviewers.
How it works
- Upload your files and add a due date
- Invite your reviewers or send them a link (they don’t need an account)
- Let reviewers add their feedback and discuss ideas in the comments
- Turn the comments into a to-do list so you can tick off edits for the next version
- Upload the new version to Filestage
File formats supported
- Live websites
Why Filestage is best for ease of useFilestage’s review and approval tool has been awarded G2’s “Easiest To Use” badge five times in a row. And it’s also been praised for “Best Estimated ROI” and “Easiest Admin”. Here’s what some users have to say about it:
- “Easy to use from day one” – Matt D, Graphic Designer
- “Great time-saving tool for collaboration and approvals” – Rick H, Director of Sales
- “The best thing that’s happened to our approval process” – Michael F, CEO
Wipster – good for video collaborationWipster is a review and approval tool that specializes in video collaboration. This New Zealander startup provides several integrations for Adobe Premiere and After Effects. These panels come in handy when editing the video according to your reviewers’ wishes.
How it worksThe app supports team-only notes and offers an inbox for notifications. The video information is a helpful feature, which you can use to see who viewed, commented on, and approved the video. There’s also the option to archive projects that are no longer active.
File formats supported
Why it’s good for video reviewsWipster is the go-to tool if you’re a professional video maker with a lot of video to review. But if you need to manage lots of formats with different stakeholder groups, you’re better off with a different tool.
Dropbox – best for storing large filesDropbox is one of the first tools that people think of when they want to share files with each other. And since it has a simple commenting function, it’s found its way onto our list of review and approval tools. But if you’re looking for an all-singing all-dancing tool, Dropbox isn’t for you.
How it worksDropbox offers apps for all major platforms. It’s easy and convenient to work with Dropbox on your smartphone or tablet, and it’s ideal to review PDF files and images on the platform. But it’s not suitable for reviewing video or audio. There are two ways to make comments on files: on the overall file, or on a specific part of it. However, the comment section could definitely be improved. The layout is untidy, and some features (such as sorting, filtering, or searching for comments) are also missing. You can mark a comment as resolved, which is useful in many situations, but there’s no way to attach a file to a comment. So you’ll need to pass files in another way.
File formats supported
Why it’s best for storing large filesDropbox includes 2 GB of free storage for private use. And with their paid plans, you can get access to 2 TB of storage and beyond. This is great for storing large video files and campaigns. But if you want to review and approve your projects in detail, you’ll need a different tool.
InVision – best for product designersInVision’s prototype tool lets you create interactive wireframes and high-fidelity prototypes.
How it worksThe New York based service offers a broad range of features, including versioning, draw on file, and a useful traffic light system to track the status of the review. Within the app, you’re able to define different sections of your project, so you’ll be able to organize your project and keep a better overview. Another helpful function is the workflow board, which displays the review status of each prototype. Plus, you’re able to change the review status by simply dragging and dropping the file into another column. The live chat function is helpful, too. It allows you to talk to your collaborators in real time and share ideas with them on screen.
File formats supported
- Designs and wireframes (built inside the app)
Why it’s best for product designersInVision is an awesome tool for creating interactive wireframes and sharing them with your teammates. By adding comments where work happens, it makes things fast and collaborative. On the downside, it can be complicated for reviewers who aren’t used to using the app. So if you’re sharing designs with a range of reviewers, you may need a more user-friendly review and approval tool.
Frame.io – good for video collaborationFrame.io is another video collaboration tool, with integrations for Adobe Premiere, After Effects, and Final Cut.
How it worksFrame.io lets you share videos with teammates and reviewers to collect their feedback. There’s a bit of a learning curve because of the complicated UI. But once you get past that, there are lots of great features for video collaboration. You can pause videos, add comments, and draw annotations. And you can also discuss ideas in the comments before sharing the next version. Another helpful feature is the ability to compare versions side by side. So you can easily see what’s changed from one video edit to the next.
File formats supported
Why it’s good for video collaborationFrame.io is focused on making video reviews easier and helping teams get approval. So it’s packed with features that benefit video editors and producers. But for reviewers who aren’t used to video software, it could be a step too far.
Hightail – good for sharing files and foldersHightail is a tool you can use to share your files and folders with anyone. It allows you to review a whole bunch of different file formats, including videos, images, audios, and PDF files.
How it worksThe UI makes it hard to keep an overview of all the different projects and files. Though approval requests are possible, it’s only available in the PRO plan. Moreover, the service features an activity board, which shows your relevant data. It has nice visuals, but doesn’t do a lot for me. The big downside of Hightail is that reviewers need to sign up to review your file, which takes some time and slows down the feedback process. Guest access and comments are only available in the business plan.
File formats supported
Why it’s good for sharing files and foldersHightail lets you share large files in one place. And it also includes tracking so you can see when they’ve been opened or downloaded.
Acrobat Pro DC – good for PDFsAdobe’s Acrobat Pro DC is the go-to tool for businesses to create and edit PDF files. Unlike the other tools on our list, it needs to be downloaded and installed. It isn’t a cloud-based app.
How it worksIn Adobe’s Acrobat DC, you’re only able to share your files via email invitation. There’s an option to send and track your file, but it costs extra. When it comes to feedback, there are a huge selection of tools to comment on the PDF file. These include a highlighter, a strikethrough tool, inserting text in a PDF file, a stamp tool to approve a file, and drawing tools to add geometric markups.
File formats supported
Why it’s good for PDFsAdobe Acrobat Pro DC offers a wide range of tools to comment and edit PDF files. But it’s not as slick or agile as some online options. So if you’re looking for something more up to date or want to share multiple formats, this tool isn’t for you.
Frankie – good for live file sharingFrankie allows you to share your file live with your coworkers or clients. You can comment on the file while everyone sees what your point is, and you can discuss it right away. In addition, you’re able to see who’s currently looking on the file while you are.
How it worksThere are a lot of options for drawing on the file (including pen, arrow, circle, or text), which I find pretty helpful for reviewing. In contrast, the dashboard of the platform is rather confusing. It’s not clear who’s reviewing the files at the moment, or what the status of the review of the file is. Therefore, the feedback workflow is slow and inconvenient. Plus, you can’t really process your comments, since it doesn’t allow you to make a to-do list or sort, search, and filter the comments in any way.
Supported file formats
Why it’s good for live file sharingFrankie is helpful for showing annotations in real time – great if you’re talking through files on a call. But when it comes to setting up a review and approval workflow, it lacks some major features compared to other options.
GoVisually – good for ease of useGoVisually is a very user-friendly proofing tool. It’s great for client feedback because they won’t need to read a manual before they can start using it.
How it worksGoVisually has a simple PDF annotation toolset which is excellent for quick feedback. Clients can sign in and join the conversation by adding to the comment threads just like an in-person meeting. You can resolve tasks as you go and keep track of the conversation. Another bonus of using this tool is their active customer service department if you do encounter a problem they’re on hand to help.
File formats supported
Why it’s good for ease of useGoVisually puts all your designs in one place to make life easier for everyone. It’s a good annotation tool, with prices starting from only $12/month. But if you want to set up an end-to-end approval workflow, GoVisually may not be right for you.
Meet Filestage, the best-rated GoVisually alternativeFilestage starts from $9/month and is easy to use like GoVisually. But it also includes extra features and file formats, like review steps for different stakeholders and live website reviews.
Notism – good for creative collaborationNotism is an easy to use visual tool great to get discussions going about your designs.
How it worksNotism is useful for real-time feedback and signing off on visual content when you need to. It’s a time saver, and the task management and live notification features allow you to keep your team on track. You can also present projects in real-time with their presentation mode. This site is very secure and backs up all of your data daily in multiple locations, which is a great feature to prevent loss of work in the event of a problem.
File formats supported
- Website designs
Why it’s good for creative collaborationNotism includes a range of features to make feedback more accurate. And it also shows live cursors so you can see who’s looking at your files in real time. This can be helpful to speed projects along, as you can chat through ideas live.
GoProofGoProof is perfect for streamlining your workflow if you’re currently using a range of platforms as it brings all your media collaboration into one place.
How it worksGoProof has an extension inside the Adobe creative cloud which allows you to collaborate on any project. So rather than using multiple tools, you have one clean workspace to review everything you’re working on.
File formats supported
- Adobe Creative Cloud files
SummaryIf you use Adobe software for all of your creative work then you can consider this one. There are different packages available, but the starting price for the paid package is $9.99. If you want to use a more general solution, you should check the listed alternatives such as Filestage.
ReviewStudioReviewStudio is a collaborative visual web app which comes with some great advanced features for editing digital media.
How it worksThis tool has very easy-to-use visual mark-up tools, and they’ve worked to simplify the design review process. You can have independent live reviews, and one of the useful features is being able to compare revisions side by side easily.
SummaryIt’s a secure branded platform that provides the basic annotation features and ideal for people who work in marketing or production. Pricing starts from $15 a month.
WorkfrontWorkfront is a work management platform that allows you to centralize all your projects.
How it worksWorkfront has a lot of great features to fit in with their goal to give you a smart and connected platform. They have the usual features of approval software, but they also allow you to create more standardized processes to save you time and build in compliance steps for your staff.
SummaryIt’s great for managing large workloads, watch resources, balance budgets which all make it a good option for big teams and businesses. Prices vary depending on your business and set up.
Meet Filestage, the best-rated Workfront alternativeIf you don’t need a huge work management platform but an excellent tool that helps you review and approve your content and adapts your existing workflows, you should start a free Filestage trial today.
SyncSketchSyncSketch is an easy to use package which focuses on giving you the speed you need to have optimum productivity.
How it worksYou can manage your content, gain real-time reviews and even embed your content anywhere to get the best feedback. It’s a compelling package and has a very intuitive design. You can have multiple levels of management and permissions to protect your work and manage your security.
SummarySyncSketch is often used by artists and creatives, especially in the animation industry it’s safe and easy to use. Particularly good for studios. If you’re searching for a solution that also covers use-cases of e.g. marketing teams, you should evaluate the other options.
inMotionNowIf your goal is to stay ahead with your projects and reduce time waiting for admin, then inMotionNow is a good choice.
How it worksYou can manage requests for new content and your workspaces efficiently from the shared project dashboards. It comes with all the bells and whistles when in terms of markup tools and allows for custom notifications. This software aims to give you time back every week for each of your team so they can focus on what they do best.
SummaryinMotionNow is a good software to use for general project management purposes because it saves you time in many ways. You can access pre-designed templates to speed up your processes and also review analytics to improve your productivity. Unfortunately, some users criticize the user interface and performance of the platform. If you’re looking for a performant tool that is specialized in reviews and approvals you might consider an alternative to inMotionNow.
Meet Filestage, the best-rated Workfront alternativeFilestage provides a clean design and can be also used by people who aren’t tech-savvy. On top of that, it allows you to manage all of your reviews and approvals in an easy-to-use dashboard. You can use the agile review workflow feature to split the review loops into different internal and external steps.
AprooveAproove is a 360 visual collaboration solution which helps you manage anything from Adobe creative files to powerpoint presentations.
How it worksIt’s a content-based online proofing solution which lets you work on each element at each level of a project. You have a high level of control with the software which is great for keeping on track with permissions and security.
SummaryGreat for brand owners and marketing teams or anyone in advertising. Prices start from around $49 a month. If you want to adapt your existing workflows and get in-depth annotation features, you should consider using an alternative.
Meet Filestage, the best-rated Workfront alternativeFilestage allows you to review and approve different content formats with clients and co-workers while adapting your existing workflows. Y ou can easily set up different review steps (internal and external) and make sure that everyone is involved when it’s needed.
ZiflowZiflow is a clear and easy way to review content and keep all your work centralized.
How it worksZiflow works well with Dropbox and Google drive, so if tools like these are your bread and butter Ziflow is a good choice. It’s a smart tool with some automated features which helps to save time. One of the things we like best is their decision tracking options which help you during the creative process.
SummaryIt has plenty of robust security options like single sign-on and is great for creative production teams that only need proofing features.
VidhubVidhub is a video approval software that promises to simplify your video reviews.
How it worksThe upload time for your videos is fast which can save you much time compared with lower quality services. You can effortlessly timestamp comments and manage your revisions. One of the other useful features is being able to remind your clients automatically by setting them reminders.
SummaryA good basic software aimed at students, studios and corporations. They offer a free 14-day trial, so you can decide if this is the annotation tool for you.
LookAtLookAt is a streamlined service which allows you to reach all your work remotely, perfect when you have collaborators from around the world!
How it worksLookAt is great for integrating with your existing tool stack. With Adobe, Google, Dropbox, and other tools you can keep all your relevant content in one space, and more importantly, it works well with all this software. It also has good version management so you can view different versions without getting them confused and compare versions side by side for easier decision making.
SummaryYou can even work on 360 degrees and VR software with this tool. No matter your skill level LookAt provides training videos will all their services so you can be sure your team can use it effectively. If you put emphasis on a clean workflow that directly adapts your existing processes, you should consider using one of the mentioned alternatives.
ProofQuickProofQuick is a cost-effective option for reviewing ads and approving changes.
How it worksFor a small business, you may find this one useful, especially as you don’t have to download any software and the website is straightforward to use. Quickly send projects to the graphics department for editing or approval. If you’ve got an office of technophobes then seriously consider this software because it requires no special skills to operate.
SummaryThis one is specifically designed for the yellow page industry but has plenty of useful features for a small business with basic approval system needs.
QuickReviewerQuickReviewer if cost-saving is your main priority, then this might be review tool for you.
How it worksQuickReviewer allows you to quickly reply to revisions and messages as well as consolidate your feedback. This simple software helps to get the conversation flowing without wasting anyone’s time.
SummaryIt’s a tool that includes less of the advanced features you will find on other software, but for younger businesses that don’t have a lot of projects yet, this is might be an option to work with.
KollaborateKollaborate is yet another collaboration tool focused on video to help keep you in contact with your team.
How it worksKeep in touch with everyone via group messaging. Save time by setting up workflows and automatic processes. Kollaborate also has helper apps which mean everyone can use and access all the features available.
SummaryThis secure platform is a suitable choice for any business mostly concentrating on video.
All tools at a glance:
- Acrobat Pro DC
What review and approval tool works best for you?Review and approval tools can be of great use. But it’s rather time-consuming to review all of the different tools out there. So I hope I’ve saved you some time researching my comparison of all these review and approval tools. If you’re wondering which review tool to use, I suggest thinking about your workflow first. After all, it really depends on your needs. Then I’d challenge you to try a couple of the tools listed here, and see if they’re a good fit for your company. Make sure that any tool you consider has a free trial. Despite the differences in features, it’s important that the tool you use has great usability. The more intuitive a tool is, the less work for your team and partners. If you still have any questions about review and approval tools and collaboration workflow, feel free to post them in the comments below. I’ll do my best to answer them for you.
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Passionate about communications and client relations. He loves to dig into behavioral economics to uncover the irrationality in our daily behavior.