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CM/ECF Requirements & Technical Tips

ECF Support is available from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday:
(206) 370-8440 (choose option #2) or
(866) 323-9293 (toll free - choose option #2)

Filing Procedures in the Event of Technical Failure on the Part of the Court

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Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) and PDF requirements
Internet access is required to use CM/ECF. Users must have an email account to receive case notices from the court.

Users must also have the ability to create and read PDF documents. A free PDF reader is available for download. Please remember that PDF documents should be previewed before being uploaded in CM/ECF and that submitted documents must be under 35 MB. You can file several 35 MB files as part of one filing event by entering as separate attachments. To check your document's file size, open the document in Acrobat. Then, select File > Document Properties and look under Description. File sizes are listed in kilobytes (kb); about 1000kb equals 1 megabyte (mb).


Supported browsers
The current version of CM/ECF was tested with and works correctly with Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer 8 and 9. Additional technical information regarding browser versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer, and how you may maintain a specific version on your computing devices to access CM/ECF, are available on the Firefox  and Internet Explorer support sites.

Use of other browsers, or other versions of Internet Explorer, is NOT supported and may cause CM/ECF to operate or display incorrectly, potentially resulting in improper or incomplete transactions.


Tips for Mac users


Troubleshoot Common Problems

Why is my system so slow?

How do I clear the browser cache?

Why does my session freeze?

Why is my login failing?

When I log in, the blue tool bar is missing Civil and Criminal.  How can I file?

Why do I see a blank page when I try to open the document via the hyperlink in the e-mail?

Why am I prompted for my PACER login when I click on the hyperlink in the e-mail?

Why is the document number in my e-mail not a hyperlink?  How can I access the document?

I don't see PDF headers when I view documents?



Why is my system so slow?
Your system may experience slowness due to a number of factors that can affect the speed and efficiency of your computer system when filing or retrieving documents:

  • The amount of activity on the system affects all users.
  • Filing in the morning is typically speedier than in the afternoon. 
  • Files stored in your cache take up space, which affects speed. From time to time you may want to clear out the files to free up space on your computer.


How to I clear the browser cache?
The process for clearing the cache varies with the internet browser.  You can find instructions for ECF supported browsers for Internet Explorer and Firefox


Why does my session freeze?
If you find your session freezes after you hit "Submit," try using the "Back" button to return to the previous screen.  Then click on "Submit" again. If using the "Back" button does not work, then you need to restart your browser after clearing out the cache and begin a new filing session.


Why is my login failing?

  • Are you signed into the right court?  Bankruptcy passwords or those from another district will not work in our database. Each court has its own.
  • Logins and passwords are case sensitive: Both PACER and ECF logins are usually lower case letters and you may have to use the shift key for a symbol. Also, make sure that your CAPS LOCK is not on.
  • Check the context: If the system is asking specifically for a PACER login and you enter your ECF login and password, you will receive an error message.
  • Client Code:  If you are signing into ECF, leave the Client Code box blank. Putting anything in that box could generate an error message. The Client Code is an optional field when you sign into PACER related to billing.


When I log in, the blue tool bar is missing Civil and Criminal.  How can I file?
This is an indication that you are signed in with your PACER login and password. Since the PACER account is only for retrieving documents, it will not display the Civil and Criminal options necessary for filing.  Log out and log back in with your ECF account information.


Why do I see a blank page when I try to open the document via the hyperlink in the e-mail?
You may need to re-install Adobe Acrobat, or change the way you view PDF's in your browser.  Here's how:

  • Open Adobe Acrobat.
  • Select Edit > Preferences > Internet > Web Browser Options;
  • Uncheck the boxes called  Display PDF in Browser and Allow Fast Web View;
  • Click OK and close the dialogue box. Changing this setting causes Adobe Acrobat to launch in its own window;
  • Close your browser, then open it again;
  • Try opening the document. Note, however, that you will now be prompted for your PACER login and will be charged to view the document. The system acts as if you already received your free peek. To request credit, contact PACER.


Why am I prompted for my PACER login when I click on a hyperlink in an e-mail?
Social Security and Immigration cases are restricted to access by case participants.  Documents in these cases will prompt you to sign in first with your ECF login and password.  This establishes that you are a case participant and authorized to online access of these documents. For all case types, after receiving a Notice of Electronic Filing e-mail, you must click on the hyperlink within 14 days to receive your "free peek" of the document filed. Once the free peek has been used or the 14-day period has expired, you will be asked your PACER login and password in order to view the document.

If your ECF account includes additional e-mail addresses, each person will also receive an e-mail with an active hyperlink to the document filed. And each will have a free peek within the 14-day period.


If you are not able to access the document filed due to a technical error, please contact PACER and request a credit.




Why is the document number in my e-mail not a hyperlink?  How can I access the document?
The court processes some simple events such as minute entries or minute orders as text-only entries. There is no underlying document attached. The docket entry itself is the official record of that event. These entries are only filed by the court. Filers external to the court must always attach a document as part of the filing process.



I don't see PDF headers when I view documents?
You will not see PDF headers on documents unless you select "Include PDF Headers"  when you run a docket report, or docket sheet. You can also set it as your default setting under Maintain Your Account.