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.
Looks good. Tried any photos with it? I have recently been considering the Kodak i30 document scanner because I heard it was good with photos. I’m going to scan about 5000 general family photos from the 1980s before they fade.
I haven’t tried any real photos… only stuff from magazines. I might be trying out photos over the next two weeks as I run into a bunch of shots from high school, etc.
The Kodak unit looks to be a bit larger (at least in photos), doesn’t mention Mac support, but claims to be much faster (25PPM versus 15PPM I believe). The main advantage I see of the Kodak unit is that it looks like it comes with software that can convert scanned documents into searchable text (OCR).
I wish you’d stop telling me about all of these cool products; my “to buy” list from this site is about a mile long.
Now don’t forget to tell us what you’re doing as far as redundant backup. I’m always searching for a better workflow in that regard.
Sorry that I’ve helped you fill your life with interesting gadgets that some would call tools… I’ll stop buying stuff very soon since I’ll have little space for it, but I might still taught you with other ideas even if I’m not buying them.
For backup, I use external drives and DVD-R’s… that way I have two backups of everything. Nothing fancy though.
What do you mean by “not OCRed though” Do you mean OCR?
It would be a downer if all your text documents would be PDF “images” and not text PDFs
Yes, that’s why I made those letters in all caps. It’s no less of a downer then the fact that my paper files cannot be searched when they are in paper form. So, I’m not loosing any functionality… it sur would be nice to have everything OCRed so I could search the text of the files.
This looks great, is there comparable software (Devon Think) for the PC? Been looking and looking….
How do you deal with reconciling on multiple machines? And how do you move things to take them on the road with you on your laptop? I know DevonThink has a server setup — Is that what you’re using?
I only use one machine, which is a laptop so I have all my documents with me at all times.
Do they have DevonThink for Windows?
Is it any good for commercial use?