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In my Approval Studio in-depth review, I’m sharing the results of my analysis and evaluation from hands-on testing and experimentation. Before we dive in, if you’re just starting your search for the best online collaboration software, you should first check out my picks for the best collaboration tools. Approval Studio is one of the top-rated collaboration tools out there, but to figure out if it's a good match for you, it's important to understand the software’s benefits and drawbacks.

My in-depth Approval Studio review will take you through everything you need to know to make a more informed decision—pros and cons, features and functionality, pricing, and more—to help you to better understand its capabilities and suitability for your needs.

Approval Studio review showing screenshot of online proofing software of design approval
I like how Approval Studio's online proofing interface includes design approval capabilities with tools for feedback and collaboration.

Approval Studio: Product Overview

Approval Studio is a tool designed to streamline the review and approval process in creative projects. It primarily caters to designers, project managers, and teams engaged in visual content creation. The software brings clarity and efficiency to project workflows, helping users avoid common communication issues and misinterpretations often encountered in creative processes.

Among its standout features are real-time collaboration, version control, and precise feedback tools, which significantly ease the task of managing design revisions and client feedback.


  • Real-Time Collaboration: Approval Studio enables live discussions directly on the design file, ensuring immediate and accurate feedback.
  • Version Control: It maintains a comprehensive history of revisions, allowing for easy tracking of changes and decisions throughout a project.
  • Feedback Precision: The tool offers detailed feedback capabilities, such as marking specific areas and adding notes, making it easy to pinpoint the exact changes needed.


  • Limited Integrations: Approval Studio offers fewer integrations with third-party tools compared to some competitors, which could limit workflow automation.
  • Interface Complexity: Some users may find the interface less intuitive, possibly leading to a steeper learning curve.
  • Customization Limits: The software offers limited options for customization, which might not suit teams with very specific workflow needs.

Expert Opinion

In my experience, Approval Studio stands out for its robust real-time collaboration and version control features, which are essential in the fast-paced world of creative design. However, when compared with other online proofing tools, its limited integrations and somewhat complex interface are noticeable drawbacks. Pricing and functionality-wise, it offers a competent range of features, but the lack of customization can be a hindrance for teams with unique workflow requirements.

Its onboarding process and overall user experience are decent, but there's room for improvement in terms of intuitiveness and flexibility. Approval Studio excels in environments where straightforward, collaborative review processes are key, and it is well-suited for small to medium-sized teams focused on visual content.

For larger organizations or those heavily reliant on automation through third-party integrations, it may not be the ideal choice. When selecting a design-focused online proofing software, weighing these factors against specific project or organizational needs is crucial.

Approval Studio: A Deep Dive

Approval Studio sets itself apart in the realm of online proofing solutions, specifically tailored for design professionals, with its unique blend of features and functionalities.

Approval Studio online proofing dashboard screenshot
Here's an overview of the Approval Studio online proofing dashboard, showcasing its organized interface with project management and collaboration tools.

Standout Functionality

Approval Studio distinguishes itself in the competitive field of design-focused online proofing software through several unique features and functionalities. These aspects not only enhance the user experience but also provide distinct advantages over similar platforms. Here are three key differentiators:

  1. Advanced Comparison Tools: Approval Studio offers an advanced set of comparison tools that are particularly beneficial for design professionals. These tools allow users to easily compare different versions of a design side-by-side, highlighting even the most subtle changes. This feature is crucial for designers and reviewers who need to track iterations closely and ensure that specific adjustments have been accurately implemented.
  2. Real-Time Collaboration and Annotation: Unlike many other proofing solutions, Approval Studio emphasizes real-time collaboration. It enables multiple stakeholders to annotate, comment, and give feedback directly on the design file in real time. This feature streamlines the review process, reduces the need for lengthy email threads, and ensures that all feedback is centralized and easily accessible.
  3. Customizable Workflow Management: Approval Studio stands out with its customizable workflow management feature. This functionality allows users to tailor the proofing and approval process according to their specific project needs. Users can set up different stages of review, assign tasks to specific team members, and track the progress of each design element through a custom workflow. This level of customization is particularly useful for teams with complex projects or specific approval hierarchies.

These features, among others, position Approval Studio as a unique and powerful tool in the landscape of design-focused online proofing software, catering to the specific needs and challenges faced by design professionals and their teams.

Product Specifications

Multi-format SupportYes
Version ControlYes
Real-Time CollaborationYes
Annotations, Markeups, and CommentsYes
Automated Workflow ManagementYes
User Access ControlYes
High-Resolution PreviewsYes
Side-by-Side ComparisonYes
Mobile Accessibility - YesYes
Access Controls/PermissionsYes
Integration with Design ToolsNo
Custom Branding OptionsYes
Project DashboardYes
Task AssignmentYes
Email NotificationsYes
Search and Filter OptionsYes
File SharingYes
Reporting and AnalyticsYes
Data Security MeasuresYes
Cloud StorageYes
Offline AccessibilityNo
Multi-Language InterfaceYes
API AccessYes
Third-party IntegrationsLimited
Customizable TemplatesNo
Feedback SummarizationYes

Approval Studio Key Features

  1. Real-Time Collaboration: Enables stakeholders to provide feedback directly on design files in real-time, ensuring immediate communication and reduced delays.
  2. Advanced Comparison Tools: The compare mode feature allows for a detailed comparison of design iterations, highlighting even minor changes that can be critical in design projects.
  3. Automated Workflow Management: Customizable workflows that adapt to specific project needs, enhancing efficiency and clarity in the approval process.
  4. Annotations and Comments: Provides an interactive way to give specific, targeted feedback directly on design elements, streamlining communication.
  5. Version Control: Keeps track of all versions of a design file, ensuring that the team works on the latest version and can reference previous versions when needed.
  6. High-Resolution Previews: Ensures that designs are viewed in the highest quality, which is essential for accurate review and feedback on visual details.
  7. User Access Control: Allows for the management of who can view and edit certain files or projects, safeguarding sensitive information and maintaining project integrity.
  8. Project Dashboard: A central hub for all project-related information, offering an organized view of tasks, deadlines, and progress.
  9. Task Assignment: Enables efficient distribution and tracking of specific tasks among team members, enhancing team coordination.
  10. Reporting and Analytics: Provides valuable insights into the workflow, helping to identify bottlenecks and improve overall project efficiency.

Ease Of Use

I find the interface of Approval Studio to be user-friendly and intuitive. The dashboard is well-organized, making it easy to navigate through different projects and tasks. The onboarding process is straightforward, helping new users quickly acclimate to the software's features. However, the real-time collaboration and annotation features can be overwhelming initially, especially for users not accustomed to such dynamic tools. While the overall experience is positive, new users might need some time to fully leverage all the functionalities effectively.

Customer Support

Approval Studio offers competent customer support. Response times are generally prompt, and the team is knowledgeable. They provide support through various channels like email, live chat, and phone. Additionally, the availability of resources like documentation and tutorials enhances the user experience. However, some users might find the lack of 24/7 support or a more extensive knowledge base limiting, especially when dealing with complex issues or during non-business hours.

Software Integrations

Approval Studio offers limited native integrations with other software tools. However, it provides API access, allowing for custom integrations that can extend its capabilities. The API feature is particularly useful for businesses that require a more tailored solution or need to integrate Approval Studio into a larger ecosystem of tools. There are no significant add-ons, but the API access compensates for this by offering a degree of flexibility in customizing and enhancing the platform's functionality.

Approval Studio Pricing

Pricing for Approval Studio is competitive compared to similar tools. It offers a balanced mix of features and affordability.

  1. Lite: $45/month - Ideal for small creative teams, offering essential smart review tools, version control, and limited collaboration features.
  2. Pro: $135/month - Includes advanced features like real-time collaboration, detailed analytics, and more robust workflow management.
  3. Pro XL: $255/month - Include all Pro features with additional storage and the number of users to accommodate.
  4. Enterprise: Starts at $5999/year - Tailored for large organizations, offering extensive customization, full API access, and dedicated support.

Each tier is designed to cater to different organizational needs, ensuring that users pay for only what they require. The professional tier, in particular, offers a good balance between functionality and cost. Note that there might be additional costs for extra storage or premium support services.

Approval Studio Use Cases

Who Would Be A Bad Fit For Approval Studio?

I believe Approval Studio is a great fit for certain contexts:

  • Advertising Agencies: They often work on multiple design projects simultaneously. Approval Studio's version control and real-time collaboration features streamline the review process and approval workflows, making it easier to manage multiple clients and campaigns.
  • Graphic Design Firms: These firms benefit from the advanced comparison tools that allow meticulous scrutiny of visual details, crucial for high-quality graphic work.
  • Marketing Departments: Especially in larger companies where coordinating between various stakeholders is essential. The task assignment and workflow management features keep projects organized and on track.
  • Publishing Houses: They can utilize the tool for reviewing book layouts and covers, where precision in design feedback is critical.
  • Freelance Designers: Especially those collaborating with clients remotely. The platform's intuitive interface and real-time feedback capabilities facilitate clear communication.

Loyal customers often cite the tool's ability to enhance collaboration and streamline the design approval process as key reasons for their satisfaction. The platform works well for medium to large design teams that require extensive collaboration and version control. It's particularly beneficial for industries where visual detail and design integrity are paramount.

Who Would Be A Bad Fit For Approval Studio?

Approval Studio might not be suitable in the following contexts:

  • Individual Hobbyists: The platform's extensive feature set and pricing model may not align well with the needs of individual users or hobbyists who engage in design as a pastime.
  • Small Startups with Limited Budgets: The cost might be prohibitive for very small businesses or startups operating on a tight budget, especially if their design needs are minimal.
  • Organizations Seeking Extensive Third-party Integrations: Companies heavily reliant on a wide range of integrations with other software might find the limited native integration options a significant drawback.
  • Non-design-focused Teams: Teams that do not focus primarily on design or visual content creation may find the tool's specialized features unnecessary for their workflows.

The most disappointed customers are likely those who don't require the sophisticated design-specific functionalities that Approval Studio offers. It's less ideal for very small teams or industries where design is not a central aspect of the work.

Approval Studio FAQs

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions you may have about Approval Studio:

What file formats does Approval Studio support?

Approval Studio supports a variety of file types, including the most common image and PDF formats, including JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, and TIFF, which are standard in the graphic design industry.

Can Approval Studio integrate with other tools?

Approval Studio offers limited native integrations but provides API access for custom integration capabilities.

Is Approval Studio suitable for small businesses?

Yes, Approval Studio can be a good fit for small businesses, especially those with a focus on design and visual content.

Does Approval Studio offer real-time collaboration features?

Yes, Approval Studio includes real-time collaboration and annotation tools.

Can I track changes and compare different versions of a design in Approval Studio?

Yes, Approval Studio has advanced comparison tools and version control features.

Does Approval Studio have mobile accessibility?

Yes, Approval Studio is accessible on mobile devices, enhancing flexibility and convenience for users.

Is there a free trial available for Approval Studio?

Yes, Approval Studio offers a free trial to test its features before committing to a subscription.

How does Approval Studio handle data security and privacy?

Approval Studio implements robust data security measures to protect user data and maintain privacy.

Approval Studio Company Overview & History

Approval Studio is a software company specializing in online proofing solutions, primarily focused on design and visual content review. It is utilized by various companies, particularly in advertising, graphic design, and publishing sectors. Approval Studio is a privately-owned company, with its headquarters located in the United States. While there are no widely recognized notable employees or board members publicly listed, the company is known for its dedicated team of developers and customer support professionals.

The company’s mission is to streamline the design review process and enhance collaboration efficiency. Approval Studio has achieved notable milestones in developing advanced design comparison tools and real-time collaboration features, solidifying its position in the online proofing tool market.

Approval Studio Summary: The Bottom Line

In my opinion, Approval Studio stands out for its focus on design-specific features like advanced comparison tools and real-time collaboration. These features set it apart from similar software, offering a more nuanced approach to design review processes. It excels in facilitating efficient communication and precise feedback, which are crucial in design projects. The most noteworthy features include its advanced comparison tools, automated workflow management, and high-resolution previews, making it a strong contender in its field.

Alternatives to Approval Studio

  • ReviewStudio: ReviewStudio is often selected for its comprehensive feedback and approval tools, ideal for teams that need detailed, frame-specific feedback, particularly useful in video and animation projects.
  • Ziflow: Ziflow is preferred for its extensive range of integrations with other marketing and project management tools.
  • GoVisually: GoVisually is a popular choice for its simplicity and ease of use, particularly suited for smaller teams or less complex projects.
  • Filestage: Filestage is favored for its streamlined user interface and robust feedback management system, making it an excellent choice for teams seeking an intuitive and efficient review process across various file types, including documents, mockups, images, and videos.


To summarize, Approval Studio is a strong option for teams and businesses focused on design and visual content, offering unique features like real-time collaboration and advanced comparison tools. It is particularly beneficial for medium to large-sized teams in industries such as advertising, graphic design, and publishing. However, for those seeking a tool with a wide range of integrations or for individual use, other options like ReviewStudio, Ziflow, or GoVisually might be more suitable.

I encourage potential users to consider their specific needs and workflows when evaluating Approval Studio and to explore these alternatives as well. Please feel free to share your experiences or ask further questions about this software.

Galen Low
By Galen Low

Galen is a digital project manager with over 10 years of experience shaping and delivering human-centered digital transformation initiatives in government, healthcare, transit, and retail. He is a digital project management nerd, a cultivator of highly collaborative teams, and an impulsive sharer of knowledge. He's also the co-founder of The Digital Project Manager and host of The DPM Podcast.