Getting started

These are the basic concepts you need to understand to start using Mayan EDMS.

The absolute minimum setup to start using Mayan EDMS is:

  1. A document type
  2. A document source to add new documents

that’s it!

To make things even easier, a default document type (named “Default”) and a default document source (also named “Default”) were created for you during the installation. So you don’t need to do anything more to start adding documents right now, however take your time reading the information below to get a deeper understanding about how these concepts work.

Document types

The basic unit of data in Mayan EDMS is the document type. A document type can be interpreted also as a document category, a document class, or a document template. Every other aspect of the system will rely or be tied to one or more document type. Create one document type for each type or class of document you intend to upload into Mayan EDMS.

Document types need to be created before documents can be uploaded. It is not possible to upload documents without assigning them a document type.

Document types usually mirror the type of physical, paper document they represent.

Example document types:

  • Letter
  • Invoice
  • Timesheet
  • Blueprint
blockdiag each document type many documents


blockdiag Invoice invoice_001.pdf invoice_032.pdf
blockdiag Receipts groceries_18-01-11.pdf car_payment-17-01-02.png

Settings and attributes are applied to document types and documents will inherit those settings and attributes based on the document type they were assigned when uploaded into Mayan EDMS. A document can only be of one type at a given moment, but if needed, the type of a document can be changed. Upon changing its type, the document will lose its previous settings and attributes, and will inherit the settings and attributes of its new type.

Creating document types

Permissions required

The “Create document types” permission is required for this action.

  1. Go to the System ‣ Setup ‣ Document types menu.
  2. From the Actions dropdown select Create document type.
  3. Enter a label to be shown to users when using this document type.
  4. Optional: Enter a period of time after which documents of this type will be moved to the trash.
  5. Optional: Select the unit of time for the period after which the document will be moved to the trash.
  6. Optional: Enter a period of time after which documents moved to the trash will be permanently deleted.
  7. Optional: Select the unit of time for the period of time after which the documents moved to the trash will be permanently deleted
  8. Press Submit.


Document sources define places from which documents can be uploaded or gathered.

The current document sources supported are:

  • Web - HTML forms with a Browse button that will open the file dialog when clicked to allow selection of files in the user’s computer to be uploaded as documents.
  • POP3 email - Provide the email, server and credential of a POP3 based email to be scanned periodically for email. The body of the email is uploaded as a document and the attachments of the email are uploaded as separate documents.
  • IMAP email - Same as the POP3 email source but for email accounts using the IMAP protocol.
  • Watch folder - A filesystem folder that is scanned periodically for files. Any file in the watch folder is automatically uploaded. When the upload for a file is completed, the file is removed from source folder.
  • Staging folder - Folder where networked attached scanned can save image files. The files in these staging folders are scanned and a preview is generated to help the process of upload. Staging folders and Watch folders work in a similar way with the main difference being that Staging folders are interactive while Watch folders are automatic; documents in a Watch folder are uploaded periodically and documents in a Staging folder remain indefinitely there until an user uploads them. A preview for files in a Staging folder is also provided. An example of Staging folder use is when multiple people are scanning documents but only one person must be allowed to upload those documents. This one person examines the scans quality and decides what to upload and what to reject and have re-scanned. Watch folders can be used when the quality of the scans is irrelevant or when they will be known to be of good quality, such as when receiving e-faxes as PDFs.
blockdiag Mayan EDMS e-mail (POP3) e-mail (IMAP) Watch folder Staging folder Webform upload Automatic (via schedule) Manual (user interaction)

Document sources can be configure to allow document bundles to uploaded as compressed files which are decompressed and their content uploaded as separate documents. This feature is useful when migrating from another document manager system.


If you deployed a Mayan EDMS Docker container and want to use watched folders or staging folder, refer to the Docker chapter Accessing outside data.

Creating new sources

Permissions required

The “Create new document sources” permission is required for this action.

  1. Go to the System ‣ Setup ‣ Sources menu.
  2. From the Actions dropdown select the new type of source to create.
  3. Each source type will have different fields to customize its behavior. Enter the required information in each field based on the help text provided.
  4. Press Save.