7 Free Easy-to-Use Online Collaboration Tools – Make Teamwork Simple

top collaboration tools free

Here at trendblog.net all collaboration happens online. We started the blog while living in 3 different countries, and all this time we have managed to work together perfectly, even without seeing each other for a long time.

Since the initial launch of trendblog.net we had to get used to working together remotely, using only free online collaboration tools. These tools not only allow us to work from 3 different locations, but also to be more productive and stay organised.

Nowadays, more and more teams/companies are forced to work together remotely. But switching from a regular day-to-day work-flow to a complex and expensive project management software is very difficult to do.

Have you ever struggled to successfully collaborate online with your clients or suppliers? Do you need a piece of software that would help your team and/or the management to work more efficiently and effectively? Here are a few suggestions for you:

Which Collaboration Tools Should You Use?

During the last 3+ years we have successfully managed to work on several projects using only free online collaboration software (we switched to some paid plans though over time). Some of these tools might be already familiar to you. But still, we want to share them with you.

1. Dropbox

dropbox for online collaboration

Dropbox is probably one tool that we use most for collaboration. With this little software, we are able to have access to all our documents, files, articles and everything else.

As we are all tech junkies, we own quite a few pieces of technology, including multiple laptops, tablets and smartphones. And with Dropbox we can access our files from each gadget we own. Dropbox is compatible with all popular computer- and mobile platforms. There are native apps built for Windows, Mac, Ubuntu, Android, iOS and Blackberry. Also, you can access your Dropbox from any internet browser. Check out the Dropbox system requirements.

If you aren’t using Dropbox for teamwork, you should definitely consider doing it immediately. This tool allows you to create so-called “shared folders“, which will appear in every team member’s computer. Any file, which has been uploaded to those folders, can be accessed by every person on the team with access to it.

It is as simple as creating a new folder on your computer, putting files in there and sharing a link with your friend or co-worker. Now, if this person accepts your invitation to the shared folder, all the stuff that you add to it on your end will magically appear on the other person’s computer!

Make sure to check out our post about unusual ways to use Dropbox and how to get more Dropbox space for free!

Dropbox, of course, also offers an enterprise solution. Check out the Dropbox Enterprise page for features, benefits for your team and how the Enterprise plan compares to Dropbox Business.

Dropbox is a must-have for everyone. Seriously.

2. Google Docs

use google docs to edit together

Sometimes we need to work on one document together at the same time. With Google Docs you can do that very easily; This tool allows you to create online documents, presentations and spreadsheets. You don’t even need to have any office software installed – everything happens right in your browser or via the mobile app for iOS and Android.

Just create a document and share the link with other people. Now you can edit the document together at the same time in live-mode.

By now Google Docs is my go-to tool for all things content creation. The beauty of Google Docs is not only the fact that all your content is automatically saved and stored for remote access from any device, but it can also show you a history of changes made to a given document, it’s easily sharable and it’s absolutely free!

Of course, every document you create online can be exported and used offline.

3. Slack

FYI, I’m not getting paid for what I am about to say about this wonderful piece of software.

So yeah, we tried Slack… It is probably one of the best ways for teams to communicate with your team members.  To put it simply, think of Slack as a chat client on steroids.

With this communication tool you can get all your different conversations sorted into different “channels”, you can integrate tons of services and so much more! For example, you can connect Slack with IFTTT for some awesome automated action! Here’s list of all the possible software tools you can integrate with Slack.

After switching from Skype to Hangouts, we have noticed that we are somewhat limited by our main communications channel, which is chat. We couldn’t put important conversations into places where they could be easily found for future reference, searching for past messages was a pain in the a** and the services that we use didn’t really seem to work hand in hand with tools that we’ve used before.

Need to integrate your favorite project management tool with your chat client? Getting updates on new customer support tickets? With Slack you can get all of that in-stream, so you can discuss with your team who will take over the latest bug or task. To fall in love with Slack you need to try it first. Lucky for all of us, small teams can use it for free and update when they need to. Not convinced? Check out this video:

If you have a very large team with many departments and sub-departments, you should probably have a look at Slack’s Enterprise plan, which is supposed to launch in 2016 for the general public. Slack Enterprise gives you access to multiple teams, as well as additional security features, analytics and company-wide billing solutions.

Update: Slack just launched a voice-calling feature. It’s surprisingly stable, but still in its early stages. It does’t allow anything beyond voice calls, so you won’t get video or screen sharing features. For now.

4. Skype

online communication and collaboration with skype

Skype is my go-to tool for all things video chat. It offers the best quality among all the other free tools, doesn’t consume too much mobile data if you’re on the go, and is generally something that most people have already installed on their computers. So, if you schedule a remote video call, all you need to send over your Skype username and you’re good to go.

All internal communication within the trendblog.net team used to happen via Skype, either through IM Messaging or video-calls. In spite of being separated by at least 1.500 miles (2.500 km) from each other it seems like we were sitting together in one room.

5. Google Hangouts

use google hangouts for collaboration

With Skype you can only video-chat with up to 10 people. And that’s the reason why we sometimes use Google Hangouts. This tool allows you to have a video-conference with up to 100 people for free.

The new Google Hangouts are great to keep all your communication in one place and synchronized. It’s still widely used as a chat client in the business world, mainly due to the fact that it integrates with Gmail for the search history and contacts import. The video quality can be bad at times, but I usually have a great experience when it comes to video conferences with Hangouts.

The quality issue was already addressed by Google in 2013, but only now the big G made an actual move to improve it. With the latest update people should see a significant increase in video conferencing quality, along with a simpler and cleaner interface for the web client.

6. Trello

trello project management tool

Over the last few months we have tested pretty much every free team/project collaboration tool out there, including popular ones like Asana and Podio. After trying them we didn’t really feel that these tools were making our lives easier. Instead, managing our projects has become a complicated chore.

*Update: as the projects got more complex, we decided to switch over to Asana after all. More on that below.*

But there is one tool out there which is different. Trello uses a card-based system for keeping your project overview as simple as possible. You can create custom columns like “To-Do” or “In Progress” which you will use to organize individual tasks. The tasks will be then added as a small card to the column. For each card you can set a due date, write comments, assign people to it and many more.

Asana, Podio and alike are made for managers. Trello is made for people.

One especially great thing about Trello is the user experience. The interface is very simple to use. For example, you can drag every card from column to column (i.e. after completing a task) and assign people to the card by dragging their profile picture onto the card.

Also, Trello probably has the best mobile and tablet collaboration app out there. The experience is exactly what you would expect from an app, with many features taken from the system it runs on. For example, you can delete tasks on your iPad by swiping them to the left, which will reveal a red “delete” button. This looks very much like the native iOS deleting feature. All of these combined make sure that your learning curve is as smooth as possible and you won’t get a headache while using it.

Check out the video below for a demonstration of how Trello works.

7. Asana

As the projects got increasingly more complex, we decided to switch from Trello back to Asana. For me, personally, the amount of tasks and sub-tasks across 10+ different projects was difficult to keep track of with a card-based system, but that’s only my personal view.

Asana is a nifty task and project management tool, that works especially great for remote teams with a complex project setup. Right now I use Asana as my personal to-do list, because it consolidates all the tasks assigned to me personally across projects and teams, and sorts them by priority! And, as those who work on multiple projects at the same time know, one of the most difficult things is to prioritise.

The video below will demonstrate the basics of working with Asana. Don’t let the design of the user interface scare you away. It has recently been updates, and now looks much cleaner (especially on mobile).

What tools do you use to collaborate with your team? Is there any piece of enterprise software you can recommend to fellow readers? Please let us all know in the comments!

Daniel's passion is optimizing stuff, making it work better and faster. He likes tech, entrepreneurship and the outdoors. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter. Online Marketer | Entrepreneur | Hard Worker | Smart Thinker | Techie
  • Markus

    Nice post. Another nice tool for collaboration is sharelatex.com. It’s a latex environment in the google docs style, perfect for every student or people who writes papers or other documents which should look professional.

  • agreedo

    How about https://www.agreedo.com. It provides collaboration on meeting minutes and agenda. Great for handling meeting content.

  • I will also add http://www.binfire.com which combines most features the above six apps have in one package.

    • DanielBulygin

      Thanks, Raban. I will definitely check this out. Same goes for Agreedo.
      Are you using any other tools in combination with BinFire?

  • pankaj

    Check out HyperOffice (http://www.hyperoffice.com)

  • You can also try out Brightpod, a project management app specifically for marketing teams. Includes readymade workflows & a whole bunch of collaboration features.

  • david warner

    Great list of tools. Additionally, one may even deploy on premise RHUB online collaboration appliances in order to conduct webinars, web meetings, web conferences, online meetings etc.

  • Docs9 Administrator

    Perhaps the hottest one around is Docs9


  • Mike

    Thank you for a list. I wish to add something slide different. Have you tried to manage your tasks with web-based task board? I just have started a free trial on KanbanTool http://kanbantool.com and I am looking for other similar solution to make a comparison Do you know any? Do you have any experience with this one? Thank you!

    • DanielBulygin

      Hey Mike, We have used quite a number of different collaboration tools, both free and paid. From my experience, smaller teams (3-4 people) with relatively small projects can stick with the free ones above. But when it comes to more complex projects with lots of dependable tasks using tools like this might come in handy. Some project management tools that might be interesting for you are Podio, Asana and Samepage.io

  • Cley Morel
  • Guest

    Great list of collaboration tools! One tool is missing, though, Fylcloud. It’s basically 39signals’ Basecamp (file sharing, project management, discussion, etc.) but it has some special features for accountants. It was originally developed for cpa’s so definitely worth a try for people in the financial industry.

  • Jimmy

    Also have a look at http://www.proofhub.com/. It is a great online collaboration and project management tool that makes handling work easier, faster and better.

  • Pradeep George

    Thanks for the detailed post . I would like to add iCoordinator Free. You can add read more and register it here. http://www.icoordinator.com/blog/Free-Project-Management-Software

  • Jan Nowak

    Hi. Great list, I actually use most of the tools from above 🙂

    Lately I found also two different project, there are still under development but look promising

    1. https://teamstatus.tv/ – you can display you key project data, they still have only a batch of integration but new are comming

    2, http://remotestandup.com/ – we use it in our team. On the end of the day every team member receive an email which he answer and then on the begging of the next day whole team receive a summary of what’s going on. Really simple but quite useful.

  • If you just want to edit texts try EasyPad http://www.databay.de/easypad/ It’s an easy etherpad-alternative which is very easy to install and to use.

  • Microsoft’s SharePoint is one of the best online collaboration tool in the market. SharePoint offers many good features for document management, task management, blogging, team management and more.You can try it for free with http://www.cloudappsportal.com/sharepoint/online-collaboration-software/.

  • Amazing stuff!

    Just a couple of tools, which we use in our team:

    Evernote for knowledge sharing.
    https://www.box.com/ instead of Dropbox
    http://casual.pm/ instead of trello.


  • varitc

    About project collaboration tool, you can also try out http://www.taskworld.com/ . It can brings teams together to work towards the same goal with a simple and to the point task management panel

  • Concept.vu

    We have to put in our vote for Trello – we use it for everything that we do!

    We’d also like to add Concept.vu (http://www.concept.vu) to this list. It’s a client approval tool we just launched to help producers, designers, and project managers get fast feedback and sign off on work. Unlike some other products out there, ours was designed to get fast approval and was built from the ground up with this purpose. It also works in IE8 and with video 🙂

  • Michelle Etthy

    I’m using VoxyPAD because it’s the only app that lets me talk, draw, view webs and Dropbox files together. There’s a lot it can do. It helps me get instant feedback and increase my productivity. And VoxyPAD’s free (www.voxypad.com)

  • https://www.docs9.com – Check if that isn’t simpler, and convenient for majority of collaboration needs.

  • Such an incredible list of tools.. The world has really opened up to creative marketers. I wonder what the apps are going to be able to do in 5, 10, 15 years from now..

    Optimizely is a tool that continually amazes everyone I know. Great list 🙂
    Mobile application testing tools

  • Laurence H Chandler

    Some great tools there Daniel! We have been using a tool called Drum (http://thisisdrum.com/) here at CIM with a couple of the additional ones up there. Dropbox has been a good place for us to centrally store reports etc. However we use Drum to host our web meetings and collaborate on documents. There hasn’t been any need to download anything and everyone can join. Its also free which has been an added bonus for our budget!

  • Alejandro Navia


    Riffpad fosters information flow within
    the secure environment of an enterprise space. It allows dispersed teams
    to work together seamlessly and productively.

    Unlike bloated
    “full featured” software that is difficult to comprehend, it is designed
    to be simple to learn and use with a vastly reduced learning curve.
    This makes Riffpad the ideal collaborative platform for small companies.

  • Kroben

    Thanks for the list. I agree with the usefulness of most of the tools you listed excepted for Trello. Trello is fine but I think it lacks a note taking feature. For people having many meetings like most of white-collar professionals, a good note-taking feature is a must-have. This is why I prefer using Beesy (http://www.beesapps.com/beesy-me-online-platform ). me, that has a dynamic note-takign feature from which all the To-dos, calendar, project management feature are updated and managed. More generally, I think all-in-one apps like Beesy are the best tools if you want to get more productive.

  • Samantha

    Great list and as owner of a start-up, I would recommend Dooster. It takes care of all my virtual collaboration needs. Check them out http://www.dooster.net

    • Grant

      Sorry, Dooster has NO_Free version (as the article is called 6-free-collaboration tools).

  • Paul

    it is a bit oudated comments list but still if someone can respons 🙂

    • Paul

      Do you know if it is possible to work simulataneuously on the documents in Dropbox to avoid multiple versions of same document updated by different people?

  • so nice

  • nomi
  • Laurence H Chandler

    These are some good tools. But we use Drum (http://thisisdrum.com/) which combines all of the collaboration tools into one easy to use (WebRTC) browser based tool with no downloads. At the moment they allow you to use it for free which is an added bonus!

  • You can also test Tamashare a new app with secure virtual room ! http://www.tamashare.com

  • Hi,

    This is very very useful. I use Google Drive and Invoicera for online time tracking and team collaboration.


  • Phillip Tredson

    Don’t see Bitrix24 in the list.
    Meanwhile, it’s free for up to 12 users and substitutes Trello, Skype, Dropbox and Hangouts at
    the same time.

  • Lee

    Hi guys, have you ever heard of https://www.glasscubes.com ?? Is that a good collaboration software of who can recommend me a better one?

  • Benjamin Mestrallet

    Have you tried eXo Platform ( http://www.exoplatform.com ) ? It is an Open Source Social Collaboration tool that can be installed on premise or used in the cloud

  • John William

    Nice List !
    You may also have a look at http://www.invoicera.com which helps in team collaboration and project management. It’s a great tool with host of features.
    You may add this tool to your list as It’d help most of the businesses.

  • Guest

    To make team work simpler, for my creative projects, I’ve been using Arc 9. It’s definitely the easiest platform to use because, it combines all the best features of traditional collaboration software that was mentioned above like; basecamp, vimeo, and dropbox, into a single web application.

    I love that not only is it great for video (which is nearly impossible to find these days), it handles everything else with ease. You can upload almost any type of image, coding/development script, pdf, text, or file without having to convert them back and forth. I am still most impressed by the features available for sharing, which instantly turn projects into fully branded presentations. You can invite clients (via email) to view your work in customized private portals, with annotation tools that encourage both written and visual feedback.

    I’ve found it to be the perfect solution for many of my creative workflow obstacles, and I really think other creatives would benefit from it as much as I have.


  • Kristina Gebert-Kolb

    I’ve been using Arc 9 to manage all my creative projects, especially ones that require direct client interaction. It’s definitely the easiest platform to use because, it combines all the best features of traditional collaboration software like; basecamp, vimeo, and dropbox, into a single web application.

    I love that not only is it great for video (which is nearly impossible to find these days), it handles everything else with ease. You can upload almost any type of image, coding/development script, pdf, text, or file without having to convert them back and forth. I am still most impressed by the features available for sharing, which instantly turn projects into fully branded presentations. You can invite clients (via email) to view your work in customized private portals, with annotation tools that encourage both written and visual feedback.

    I’ve found it to be the perfect solution for many of my creative workflow obstacles, and I really think other creatives would benefit from it as much as I have.


  • Brian Ulmen

    What about security? Which would be good for ensuring that proprietary information won’t be compromised or exposed?

    • Hi Brian try http://www.kahootz.com – they’re used by a lot of public sector organisations who have security and privacy of their data and documents right at the top of their list of requirements.

      • Thanks for the reference Paul.

  • dgd


  • François Lamontagne

    We use Alioth in our group. Light and easy to use. Works very well for our needs. It’s in beta period right now so you can use it at no cost. http://www.aliothapp.com

  • Sezgin Hergul

    Like the article. Quite insightful for my research for new tools.

    Also, it reminded me a piece we wrote on our blog a while ago, http://blog.usabilitytools.com/12-tools-make-project-collaboration-trivial/

  • nishit

    While this is a great list of tools for online collaboration one should take a look
    at, but talking about real time collaboration and working with teams on remote we
    also need a tool which help in better productivity and lessens the to and fro

    Real time collaboration would typically have sync’d views, live annotation
    systems and no loading times whatsoever while viewing work. If these functions
    are in place then the workflow itself becomes very systematic and the approval
    process is simpler and faster.

    I strongly feel this is where the world is heading. Its more natural for people
    to talk like this and this is the road collaboration will take.

    Disclaimer : I work with http://www.framebench.com , an online collaboration tool. It
    has been featured in Mashable, Techcrunch, The Guardian etc. for its feature
    called table top sync, true real time sync’d sessions on any file type.

  • Gaganjeet Singh

    This is a good list but we need to have more integrations with a project management tool for seamless workflow and increased productivity. I work for a digital agency and work with a lot of freelancers and also deal with clients online. Below are the tools we have integrated for better productivity.

    For project management and workflow management – Basecamp

    For time tracking and accounting : http://www.timedoctor.com/. It tracks time spent on Basecamp tasks and verifies work done with screenshots.

    For design annotations, discussions : http://www.framebench.com

    Reporting, Charts, Planning: https://zapier.com/zapbook/basecamp

    Basecamp Invoicing and Bookkeeping : Invoice clients & track expenses. Painless accounting software w/ simple reports making you happier.

  • Except it has a trial and not a true free option.

  • Francis Ruiz

    The listed apps are great. I use most of them. I also found this great mobile app: http://www.creativesnap.co/ it has some of the features above. It’s a web development management tool, it has lots of features.

    • cherylvargas


  • AdaptiveMedia.ca

    Im looking for a free collaboration platform that can be integrated into a custom PHP or WordPress website. Any suggestions guys? Pls and thanks.

  • Evil

    Having used Trello recently, I have to agree with much of what has been said in the article. The card based system makes it really easy to get everyone in the team onboard for a project, everyone knows what they can do and when it needs to be completed. Its been so useful for the team.

    Thanks for a great article.

  • KiraKazantsev

    I just look Dropbox. It’s very useful.

    • Don Droga

      where u been living? In a cave ?

  • mitcoivanov

    Nice to see Slack here. Even with a list of only 6 tools I would have been surprised if it was missing..

    • DanielBulygin

      Well, it’s one of the greatest tools out there! This is one of the cases where the saying “build it and they will come” is completely true. The guys at Slack created a great piece of software

  • Samantha Messer

    I have had personal experience with Google Docs and would recommend it to anyone who had a group project with members that could not all be online at the same time. I used this program a lot in my undergraduate degree and found it useful as we only met once a week and I had 5 group members who never had the same schedule. E-Collaboration is absolutely genius. It allows for people from all around the world to communicate and collaborate on projects together. These other programs are all good tools as well, I just had a very positive experience with Google Docs and still use it in the workplace today.

  • Jamie

    Awesome list! My team uses Slack, Google Docs and Dropbox. However, when it comes to video conferences I found ClickMeeting very useful. It’s user-friendly and easy to use.

    • Don Droga

      would you prefer an app that combined the functionality of each?

      • cherylvargas

        I WOULD!

  • I use 6 of the 7 tools to some extent (I’ve even dabbled in Asana – just was a bit complicated for me). The best of these for me are Slack (which is far and away the best comms tool I’ve seen), Trello (and integrates so nicely with Slack) and GDrive (because of the additional tools and collaborative work). I’d replace Skype with Zoom probably and anyone who claims there’s a tool that does everything better on it’s own I don’t think that’s realistic 🙂

  • Don Droga

    Looks lame

  • Yana Sky

    I really like Trello – absolutely free, great intuitive interface, easy to use, great project management tool (this comes from VS TFS advocate – but VS is not free :D)

  • Yana Sky

    not free 🙁

  • Jeffrey McDowell

    I’ve been using Streak a lot, now switched to Deskun (it’s cheaper), no complaints.