I’ve been spending the last week or so cleaning out closets, throwing away junk and trying to get down to the stuff I really need in preparation for my upcoming mobile lifestyle change. There are two products that have really made this transition easier than I thought it would be:


First there’s the Fujitsu ScanSnap document scanner. This amazing little unit resembles a very small fax machine and boasts the following features (they have different versions for Mac and Windows):

  • Scans at up to 15 pages per minute, full color, two sided (so really 30 PPM for double-sided stuff)
  • Can handle up to 50 sheets at a time… just pile them up in the feeder and it scans them fast
  • Spits out multi-page PDF files (not OCRed though)
  • Automatically skips blank pages
  • Automatically determines if document is color or B&W
  • Automatically determines if document is single or double-sided
  • Automatically determines page size (from business card to legal sized)
  • No need to launch software… just load it once and then press a single button on the scanner to start scanning


I’ve used that scanner to digitize hundreds of pages of old bank statements, tax returns, magazine articles and dozens of other stuff that I couldn’t throw away. Then, after scanning everything, I organized everything using a program called DEVONthink, which has many features including:

  • Can handle PDF files, URLs, archived web pages, images, audio & video and a lot more
  • Allows you to organize all these files and search them very quickly
  • Can view multi-page PDF files very quickly and "browse" multiple files much faster than anything else I’ve used
  • Can archive a web page or entire web site so you have a local copy instead of having to be on-line to read it
  • Creates relationships between documents that are overly useful

These two products have allowed me to do away with over 90% of my paper files and have made it much faster for me to locate any particular document. Not only that, but I have all my files on my laptop so I can access them while I’m on the road. If I remember correctly, the scanner costs around $350 and the software is about $75.

I like this setup so much that I think I’ll end up getting an identical setup for Regina’s office so she can scan any mail that shows up while I’m on the road and so she can digitize all our paper files.