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CM/ECF FAQs: Technical

  • Can I file audio files in CM/ECF?

    No, you may only file PDF documents in CM/ECF. For instructions on how to file Non-PDF items, review Filing a Non-PDF item (Such as a DVD or Audio CD).

  • How do I convert a paper document to PDF?

    Scan the document in black and white at 200 dots per inch (DPI), unless color is an integral aspect of the document.

  • Can I upload word documents in CM/ECF?

    No, you may only upload PDF documents in CM/ECF.  Users must also have the ability to create and read PDF documents. A free PDF reader is available for download, but the court does not recommend specific PDF software. 

  • How can I check how large my PDF is before filing in CM/ECF?

    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).

  • What is the maximum allowable file size for documents filed in CM/ECF?

    Each document/attachment included in your filing must not exceed 75 megabytes (MB).  If your document/attachment is greater than 75 MB, it must be divided into smaller documents/attachments, with each not exceeding the 75 MB limit and labeled appropriately (e.g., Exhibit 1 – Part 1, Exhibit 2 – Part 2).

  • I get an error message when I upload my document. How do I address this?

    CM/ECF may reject your document for various reasons and will usually indicate the problem in the error message. These are common issues that may result in your document being rejected:

    • Your document exceeds the 75 MB limit. Your document must be divided into smaller documents, with each document not exceeding the 75 MB limit and labeled appropriately (e.g., Exhibit 1 – Part 1, Exhibit 2 – Part 2).
    • Your document is not a PDF or does not include the .pdf extension in the document name. CM/ECF only accepts PDF documents with the proper file extension.
    • Your document is malformed or contains code that cannot be uploaded to CM/ECF. Some metadata, hyperlinks, executable code, etc. can cause CM/ECF to reject your document. Print your document to PDF and submit the document again.
    • Your document has security measures (e.g., password protection) in effect. Deactivate Adobe Acrobat security features, save the file, and submit the document again.
  • Why don’t I see PDF headers when I view documents?

    PDF headers are controlled by your CM/ECF account settings. Go to Utilities > Maintain Your Account and check the Add Headers to PDF Documents box.

  • The document number in the Notice of Electronic Filing isn’t a hyperlink. How can I access the document?

    If the document number isn’t a hyperlink, it means there is no underlying document attached and the text of the docket entry itself is the official court record.

  • Why am I prompted for my PACER credentials when I click on hyperlinks in the Notice of Electronic Filing?

    Some documents are restricted to case participants (e.g., the documents in Social Security and Immigration cases) and require you to sign in to establish that you are a case participant and authorized to view the document.

    Another possibility is that the “free look” associated with the document is no longer valid, so you must enter your PACER credentials for billing purposes. The “free look” could be invalid for several reasons:

    • You have already used the “free look.” The first time you access a document using the hyperlink in a Notice of Electronic Filing, you use up your one “free look.” Every subsequent attempt to access the document using the link is subject to PACER fees.
    • You double-clicked on the document hyperlink. Always single-click on document hyperlinks; otherwise, the first click uses up your “free look.”
    • The “free look” has expired because you are attempting to access the document outside of the 14-day “free look” period.
  • Why do I see a blank page when I try to open a document via the hyperlink in the Notice of Electronic Filing?

    This can happen due to the software you are using to view PDFs or the PDF settings you have set in the browser. Possible solutions:

    • Reinstall the software used to view PDFs or update it to the most recent version.
    • If you are viewing PDFs in the browser, view the document using your PDF reader instead (and vice versa).
    • Try accessing the document using a different browser.
    • Disable unused browser add-ons/extensions related to viewing PDFs.

    If none of these solutions work for you, contact CM/ECF Support.

  • CM/ECF froze or timed out before I could complete my filing. What should I do?

    If you did not receive a Notice of Electronic Filing, it means your filing wasn’t received by the CM/ECF system and you will have to start over. To prevent the submission of incomplete or duplicate data, do not use the browser back button to start over; instead, do one of the following:

    • If CM/ECF is completely unresponsive:
      1. Clear your browser cache.
      2. Restart your browser (i.e., close all browser windows and reopen a new one).
      3. Log into CM/ECF and start over.
    • If the CM/ECF menu bar is accessible, select Civil or Criminal (depending on what you are filing), and start over.
  • How do I clear the browser cache?

    The process for clearing the cache depends on the browser you are using. Visit your browser’s support site for instructions.

  • Why is CM/ECF so slow sometimes?

    CM/ECF performance is impacted by the following:

    • The volume of users accessing the system. CM/ECF typically has the highest network traffic in the afternoon.
    • Problems with your Internet connection.
    • The size of the document you are trying to download/upload.
    • The contents of your browser cache. If it is taking up too much disk space or contains outdated/corrupt files, it could cause display/functionality problems. Try clearing your cache and refreshing the page.
  • Can I access CM/ECF on a mobile device?

    CM/ECF is accessible on any device with a web browser and Internet connection; however, it has not been optimized for mobile use and you may experience display or functionality issues.

  • What hardware and software are needed to file documents in CM/ECF?

    A computer running Windows or Mac OS X.

    Note: CM/ECF has not been optimized for use with mobile devices.

    A PDF-compatible word processor (e.g., Microsoft Word).

    Internet access.

    A supported web browser with Javascript and cookies enabled.

    Software to convert documents to portable document format (PDF).

    Software to view PDF documents (e.g., Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available for free).

    A document scanner to create PDF images of physical documents.

  • What browser should I use when filing in CM/ECF?

    The current version of CM/ECF (version 1.3) was tested with and is reported to work correctly with:

    • Firefox version 49
    • Safari version 10.1
    • Internet Explorer version 11, and
    • Chrome version 53. 

    For additional technical information regarding browser versions, and how you may maintain a specific version on your computing devices to access CM/ECF, please visit the support site for the browser you are using.

    Use of other browsers, or other versions of supported browsers, may cause display or functionality issues in CM/ECF.

  • What happens if CM/ECF is down?
  • Is CM/ECF ever unavailable?

    A four-hour window on Saturdays from 6:00 AM until 10:00 AM PST is reserved for routine maintenance and minor upgrades of the CM/ECF system without prior notice. If you experience problems accessing CM/ECF during this time period on a Saturday, please wait until after 10:00 AM to proceed.