Saturday, 18 June 2011

Paperless Home

The concept of going paperless both at home and at the office has been around for many years. The execution of this idea has not always been easy or successful. I have tried this in the past with flatbed scanners and various methods of storing the output for easy retrieval and indexing. To date my attempts have been somewhat failures. This is until now. A few weeks ago I found the perfect combination of scanner and software that make the entire process a pleasure.

The solution I am using is for the Mac so if you are PC based you may need to do some more research. My requirements were quite simple. The process of scanning should be effortless and the software should be easy to use. I started looking at Evernote but did not like the idea of all my documents being stored in the cloud, especially bank statements, copies of passports, certificates, mortgage statements etc. Evernote is free as a download but in order to get the most out of it you are required to sign up with them on a monthly or annual basis. It is not expensive, $5 per month or $45 per annum and is very handy for ensuring your documents are held in offsite storage for backups. The application is great but the security issue tipped the scales for me.

After a lot of research and testing out various products I finally decided on DevonThink. Similar concepts to Evernote but a once off fee ($49.99) for the product and you store the documents locally in a database. This would mean that I would have to make sure that I am backed up but the Mac does this automatically through Time Machine.

DevonThink is easy to use comes with some great features such as side bar tray to which you can just drag documents from anywhere and an add-in to Safari that allows you to capture the open web page directly.

I then turned by attention to document scanners and opted for the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300. This great little scanner (280mm long and 100mm wide) allows you to scan up to 10 pages at a time and can do either 1 side or both sides of the document. The other great feature I found is the ability to set up profiles for scanning which then call DevonThink and drop the document into the inbox for categorisation. It also does its own OCR and orientates the pages based on character recognition. Once the document is in DevonThink you can then search within the scanned documents for key words.

Now when the post arrives or we get back from shopping we just put the invoices/documents through the scanner with one touch of the button and then categorise them later in DevonThink when we have some quiet time. In the mean time all those documents can be destroyed and no more filing.

- Paul Steynberg

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