How can I best transfer all of my paper to the cloud and make it searchable?
June 16, 2010 10:48 AM   Subscribe

How can I best transfer all of my paper to the cloud and make it searchable?

I want to go paperless, at least for the most part (certainly for archiving), and wanted to figure out the best workflow to make this happen.
I am running Windows XP, but the solution shouldn't be OS specific rather cloud based.
I am a serious user of Google's suite of cloud apps (Gmail, Google Docs, etc.).
I would like a method that is streamlined and doesn't require a lot of steps.
I have seen scanners that can scan multiple pages automatically, and don't require a person to switch the pages (non-flatbed).
I am willing to spend some money, but not a whole lot, and would prefer to spend it on hardware than software.

I would like the workflow to be something as follows:
Place a stack of papers into a device (a scanner, I assume), the device sucks in the paper and scans them into the cloud as PDF (or whatever) and uses some sort of OCR to make them searchable, the files are then accessible from anywhere and searchable.
It would also be nice to be able to scan from anywhere, maybe using a smartphone (I have an Android phone) but definitely not a deal breaker...

The key points to the workflow and outcome are as follows:
Scanned documents should be 1) Searchable 2)Available anywhere via the cloud (preferably Google Docs?).
Scanning should be simple and not require me to sit there for hours switching documents.
Process should be simple and streamlined and not require many steps or me sitting there for hours.

Any ideas, suggestions, or otherwise for software and hardware to make this happen?
posted by allfortheBoss to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Fujitsu Scansnap s1500 / s1500m + Evernote
posted by sharkfu at 10:58 AM on June 16, 2010

I just wrote a blog post about going paperless. You probably want a Fujitsu ScanSnap (S1300 or S1500) which has nicely integrated software. Users (like sharkfu, on preview) swear by them. There are some other, not so spendy options, too, including Neat Receipts and Doxie both of which are more portable.
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal at 11:07 AM on June 16, 2010

No idea on hardware, but I'd recommend Evernote for storage. The handwriting/print recognition software within to catalog scanned documents/photos is pretty dang good. Sign up for a month's worth of a premium account to upload all your stuff initially (they cap uploads on a monthly basis for free accounts), but you'll be good to go after that. Download a desktop client, on all major smartphone platforms, and document availability anywhere via their website. It's awesome.
posted by jasondbarr at 11:50 AM on June 16, 2010

I agree that you should buy a ScanSnap. They come bundled with both Abby Fine Reader (dedicated OCR software) and Adobe Acrobat (which can do OCR, amongst other things).

Personally, I would use Dropbox: the Dropbox software can watch a folder, and automatically upload any files copied into it to their server, where they will be accessible through both the website and (free) iPhone/iPad apps.

You can set the the ScanSnap Manager software to scan everything into the Dropbox folder, and automatically run OCR on it with Abby Finereader. Then you can just dump sheets of paper into the tray, press the "Scan" button, and have OCR'd PDFs accessible by you from anywhere in the world with no further effort.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 12:28 PM on June 16, 2010

Apparently, the Windows Evernote client supports watched folders too, but if you're on a mac you need to install an AppleScript.

Upon further research, Evernote seems to have an advantage over Dropbox in that it can search within files, rather than just for files with a particular name. Like Dropbox, it has iPhone/iPad clients.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 12:36 PM on June 16, 2010

Nth ScanSnap + Evernote
posted by Brent Parker at 10:41 AM on June 17, 2010

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