Going Paperless at Home- ISO Imaging and Tagging Solutions
May 23, 2016 10:46 AM   Subscribe

I am my family's Chief Paperwork and Filing Officer. I hate it, and we don't have a lot of room for storing paper. And besides, paper is dumb. I would like to digitize everything that I currently have to file, store it securely, and tag it such that items are easy to recall. Access to these files away from home isn't necessary, really.

I currently have:

A Mac ecosystem
Scanner with a document feeder
Practically unlimited local digital storage on a Drobo 5D
Evernote Account (but I'm not sure I want to use it, because of sharing all my stuff with them, not absolutely needing it in the cloud, and cost)
DropDox (not sure I want to use this either, and it doesn't even tag like Evernote does)
Multiple internet domains that have unlimited storage (not sure why I am listing that, but might help, I suppose. I also have a dog, if that makes a difference...)

Basically, I'd like to open a piece of mail, decide it needs to be kept, scan it, tag it, shred the paper. The tagging is important. Even though I plan to use file directories, tags and metadata are important to me. So, what's the best way to do this?
posted by bluejayway to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have a full answer for you, but TagSpaces is decent tool for tagging files.
posted by o0dano0o at 11:34 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Back in the day I started using Yep exactly for this but didn't really get into it. It might work better for you.
posted by eatcake at 11:56 AM on May 23, 2016

I am you. I've tried Yep and Leap (didn't stick for me either), home brew using folders (too finicky) and Evernote (too simplistic). I finally settled into a system using Hazel and DevonThink Pro Office. So now, I scan the paper into a specific folder. Hazel picks it up, renames and tags it based on the content (so 4279802572.pdf becomes 2016-05-23-mass rmv-registration-camry.pdf and gets tagged with 'camry' and the month and year and whatever else I think applies) and dumped into DevonThink.

I use DevonThink's auto classification feature to file the document and most of the time, it gets the right place for it - so the above doc would end up filed with other docs from the Massachusetts RMV. The tags assigned in the filesystem by Hazel get picked up by DevonThink as well, so now if I want to see everything associated with this month, I search for docs tagged 2016 and May.

The downside is that DTPO is not cheap - $150. There is a comparison of featured on their site - at first glance, if you're not importing emails (as emails, you could still print them to PDF and go the above route), you may be able to go with the basic version. Upgrades are reasonable between the versions, so if you buy in low and find it doesn't have the features you need, you can upgrade.
posted by neilbert at 12:17 PM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

I email myself the document with a subject that fully describes it. I use gmail, which has really good search functions, and I can always find what I need. You might have privacy/security issues that preclude this solution, but it sure is convenient.
posted by pizzazz at 12:32 PM on May 23, 2016

Doesn't your scanner interface allow tagging? Here's what I would do (I use a Fujitsu IX500 scanner, just took my law office digital so been through this recently):

A. Have a big folder on your Drobo called "ImportantDocs" or whatever, with subfolders for your categories (if you want to even bother with subfolders).

B. Set scanner presets so you don't have to click 50 buttons choosing what options you want each time. I'd default for household papers to 2 sided, auto color recognition, regular resolution, date-based filename, and OCR. Set it to save documents scanned with the "Bank Statements" preset to the "Bank Statements" subfolder (etc) automatically unless you change it in the scanner interface window.

(You could make different presets for your most-used directories, including ones where it doesn't ask you to confirm anything, just scans, names and saves).

So the day to day workflow looks like:

1. Choose preset on scanner software.

2. Scan piece of paper.

3. Choose tags in interface.

4. Hit enter.

*If your scanner doesn't allow tagging, just set it to scan all docs to a big "To Be Tagged" folder. Then tag them using Finder. (or if ambitious, get Hazel to auto process them).
posted by bluesky78987 at 12:34 PM on May 23, 2016

If you have Photoshop, or Lightroom, you can use the cataloging database function of those apps for this. For Photoshop, there's the Bridge app, which lets you tag items with metadata to your hearts desire. There are dedicated document cataloging applications out there, but they tend to be expensive.
posted by qurlyjoe at 12:56 PM on May 23, 2016

Oh one more thing: If you want to improve Finder a bit, try Houdahspot. It's a cheap ($30) or something program that let's you do a little faster/easier searching (and maybe quicker tagging) than using vanilla Finder.
posted by bluesky78987 at 1:44 PM on May 23, 2016

A somewhat contrary view on Leap: I use it, it is pretty intuitive, and the learning curve is not steep. I would recommend giving it a try.
posted by megatherium at 3:26 PM on May 23, 2016

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