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Vox Pop: Workflow for the Fujitsu ScanSnap?

In comments about yesterday's "Making friends with paper" post, I was reminded by 43f member Adam Hooks...

A couple months ago, on a MBW episode, Merlin, you recommended some scanner/pdf solutions and you said you would elaborate on that on 43f at some point. I thought this was related to reducing your reliance on paper. How did your scanning experiment go?

Adam remembers correctly that I purchased and preliminarily fiddled with the Fujitsu ScanSnap S500M for OS X (Info, Amazon). It's a small-footprint, high-speed document scanner that a lot of people have been talking about lately. I'd read so many reviews and blog posts about how easy it is to use that I was intoxicated by the dream of a life -- if not without paper storage -- where I could at least try to minimize my unnecessary paper clutter and start making document archiving easier and more searchable.

Given the not inconsiderable cost of the unit, I'm embarrassed to say that I got busy with other stuff and haven't yet returned to using the ScanSnap in any automated way.

Doesn't mean I'm not interested or haven't gotten started...

cover of 'ScanSnap S500M' by Fujitsu

ScanSnap S500M
by Fujitsu

My initial experiences, while tentative in terms of time commitment and true workflow integration, have been very positive so far. It's easy and fast to set up the S500M and then start scanning one- or two-sided documents. The beauty part is that the included "ScanSnap Manager" app not only stores your document preferences, but directs the USB input from the ScanSnap right into the destination app of your choosing (which can, of course, be an OCR app -- that's where it gets powerful).

Initial experiments scanning directly to image-only PDFs were very positive, while scanning into "Yep" and "DevonThink Pro Office" (which has on-board OCR) seems to point even closer to the direction I eventually hope to go.

I know at least a few of you are ScanSnap studs who have come up with workflows that are really happening for you (hint: looking at you for a blog post here, Mr. Norbauer). In the absence of a more detailed report from me, I'm hoping a few of you can chime in here.

The Question to You

How are you integrating the ScanSnap (or another OS X-friendly document scanner) into your workflow? What are you using for OCR? Having particular success with ReadIris, Acrobat, DevonThink, or Yep? Any sexy Automator workflows to share?

macsparky's picture

My ScanSnap Workflow

First of all, the Scan Snap is an excellent product. it reads both sides of the page and is really fast. It is perfect for scanning documents. It is not good for quality photograph scans.

Anyway, my desk space is small so I actually keep my ScanSnap on a shelf. As I go through my week I keep a small file of things to be scanned. About once a week. (Often while watching football on Sunday) I will pull down the ScanSnap and plug it in. I then mount an encrypted sparse image disk on my Mac. ScanSnap knows to save its images in my "To Sort" folder on that drive. I just go through and scan everything.

Once it is done scanning (usually takes me about 10-15 minutes), I put all the paperwork into a separate folder to shred and keep the few pieces I may need to keep (like an invoice ticket to mail with a check). I then open Path Finder and open the side tab in "preview" mode. I click each image and then rename it in Pathfinder, which is really easy and fast. I then copy the images to their appropriate folders on the sparse image. Since I tag it all (later) I don't get real particular. I keep a folder for each month and a few for other obvious things such as insurance, banking, family, etc..

Finally I open up Yep which knows to only index documents on my Sparse image. It is really easy and fast to select all untagged documents and assign tags to them. Finally I unmount the secure disk image and copy it onto the network (backup).

The whole process probably takes about an hour a week. In my opinion the time is well worth it. The documents are backed up in multiple locations and very easy to access. My insurance guy recently emailed me asking for some documents. I had a return email to him in 5 minutes with the 4 documents he needed. It scared the hell out of him.

David http://www.macsparky.com/




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