CM/ECF Tips & Tricks

ECF 4.1 Resources

Before You File

 Prior to registering to e-file with the Court, you need to:

  1. Register for PACER Service. PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) is an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain information from federal courts. When using CM/ECF, PACER facilitates electronic access to dockets and filed documents for registered users. There is no cost to sign up for PACER, and registration is quick and simple when you utilize PACER’s on-line registration service ( If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to visit the PACER website and register today.
  2. Make sure you are comfortable with the following computer skills: 
    1. Windows, Files and Folders – Users should be familiar with navigating through their systems, locating files and documents, switching between programs, and menu bar and drop down menu utilization.
    2. Internet – Users should have a moderate level of proficiency in internet navigation, browser utilization, and downloading and uploading files.
    3. E-mail: Registered users receive electronic notification of all activity/filings for cases in which they participate. Users must have an active email account that is checked regularly, and should be comfortable receiving and accessing e-mail messages.
    4. Adobe Acrobat/PDF Format – All electronically filed pleadings must be in Portable Document Format (PDF). Users must be comfortable converting documents to a PDF format, and must have a means for doing so. 
  3. Confirm that you meet hardware and software requirements for filing electronically.
    To use the CM/ECF system, you will need the following computer hardware and software: a. Internet Browser: Firefox 1.5, or Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher b. A personal computer capable of running the browser c. Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 or higher d. A PDF-compatible Word Processor (or some other way to make PDF documents) e. Internet Connectivity at 56 kpbs or higher using PPP Protocol f. Access to a scanner g. An e-mail address h. A credit card, for paying filing fees
  4. Complete the required training exercises via the CM/ECF Interactive Training Program 
  5. Obtain your login and password 

Ready to File?

A few handy suggestions to help your filing experience be a successful one…

  1. CM/ECF has a file size limitation of 2000 KB (2 MB) per document.If you attempt to upload a document larger than 2000KB, you’ll get a message that says “Document is not a well-formed PDF.” If this happens, you’ll need to divide your document into smaller sections, and upload each section as a separate attachment. Keep in mind that scanners set to high resolutions, as well as documents that contain photos or graphics, can help contribute to large file size. Try to keep photos and graphics to a minimum when scanning, and set your scanner to a resolution that is high enough to produce a clear and legible image, but not so high that the file created exceeds 2000 KB.
  2. Set your Internet Browser to allow pop up windows from the Court’s website.Some of the screens in CM/ECF utilize pop up windows, and if you have a pop up blocker enabled on your browser, screens won’t load properly. Party information windows appear as pop ups, and the internet credit card payment screens all work through pop up windows. To ensure you’ll be able to view all of these windows, be sure to set your browser to allow pop ups from the Court’s website.
  3. Clean out your cache every once in a while.If you find that a page in CM/ECF isn’t loading properly (i.e., a menu selection that’s usually available is mysteriously absent), a likely culprit is a full cache folder on your computer. Contact the systems administrator for your office if you need help clearing your cache.
  4. Keep your ECF account updated.If you need to update your address, telephone number or email address, or change your password in CM/ECF, you can do this with a few simple clicks using the “Maintain Your ECF Account” feature in CM/ECF. For more information on this feature, see the Interactive training module “Maintain Your ECF Account.”
  5. Save your “One Free Look.”When you receive an email notification of a filing in one of your cases, the email will contain a hyperlink to the document. PACER allows you to view this document once free of charge, but all subsequent viewings will cost you eight cents per page. However, you can save your one free look for future viewings by selecting File – Save As while the document is open.
  6. Know and understand the rules surrounding electronic filing.The judges of this court have issued a number of Standing Orders governing electronic filing with the Northern District of Iowa Bankruptcy Court. To be certain you are familiar with the rules and procedures, click here to read the orders pertaining to electronic case filing.
  7. Email your proposed orders to the Court.Proposed orders should be submitted to the Northern District of Iowa Bankruptcy court via email. For all cases, proposed orders should be emailed, in .pdf format, to the following address:
  8. Don’t hesitate to ask for help!Staff at Iowa Northern Bankruptcy are friendly and available to assist you with any filing questions you may have. We’re open Monday through Friday from 8- 4:30, and we’d like to help you have a positive filing experience. You can reach the staff at our Cedar Rapids office at: 319-286-2200, or the staff at our Sioux City office at: 712-233-3939.