Stupidly Simple Recipe Management
January 20, 2008 2:17 PM   Subscribe

What's a good, idiot-proof way for my mom to scan and manage her old recipes on her iMac?

My mom has a shiny new iMac and a shiny new multi-function printer. She also has scads upon scads of recipes on cards and in magazines and things that she wants to scan in.

I set her up with Yep!, but it's too complicated for her. What she would love is just the ability scan stuff and sort through it, and make it as STUPIDLY simple as possible.

Suggestions? Solutions?
posted by SansPoint to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Picasa? I'm not familiar with Yep! yet.

What part of the process boggles your mom? For example, does she have trouble understanding where the images go (or should go) after the scan, how to find the images, sorting the images, or something else? Is she having any trouble with the scanning process itself?

I used to give in-home computer instruction to older folks. Comparing the digital files to the way a filing cabinet works sounds simplistic and obvious to those of us who are immersed in computers, but it made "Aha!" moments for my clients. That, and getting them to understand that there were very few ways they could "break" the computer, other than by opening every forwarded attachment their friends sent or by clicking sketchy pop-ups.

I think it's wonderful that she's interested in archiving recipes. Perhaps she'll start on photos and documents next, if she gets over this hurdle. Please be patient with her.
posted by bonobo at 2:37 PM on January 20, 2008

Response by poster: I chose Yep! because it works with the scanner. You click a button, and it interfaces with the scanner so that whatever's scanned ends up in the program for her to work with.

Half of why I made my folks replace their ailing Dell with a Mac is so I don't have to fiddle with it as much. They're adapting, but I don't know why my Mom finds this app too complex. It's pretty simple as far as file organization apps go.
posted by SansPoint at 2:41 PM on January 20, 2008

what if, instead of scanning the recipes she types them in?

got this for a chef friend. she seemed to like it: MacGourmet


Yummy Soup (another app in the similar vein)
posted by sharkfu at 2:41 PM on January 20, 2008

I don't know why my Mom finds this app too complex.

Knowing this will be helpful. I've had some experience teaching older folks how to use a Mac and the whole process became much easier once I understood the mismatch between the way I understood the computer and how they did.

It's possible, for instance, that it's not the complexity of the program she's having difficulty with, but the fluidity. It looks like Yep works with a system of tagging, something that is pretty foreign to folks who have a "Dessert" binder and a "Main Dish" binder.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:49 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

She will have to be comfortable with scanning, obviously. I don't know what scanner software she is using, but why not just make a folder called Recipes on the desktop?

Tell the scanner to scan to PDF and save in that folder. She can give it the proper name as she saves it. The folder will be searchable, plus all the PDFs can be sorted by name or date.

Obviously, this is not a true database, where she could search by ingredients, but it would be the closest way to making a virtual recipe card box. Once she got used to this process, and got a lot of recipes, she could create sub-folders for different kinds of recipes (appetizers, main courses, etc.). If she gets REALLY good at that, you can show her how to copy the recipes into multiple folders.

This seems very inefficient to those of us who are comfortable with computers. But for someone who is used to doing it by hand, this is the most transparent. And, she can always import the PDFs into Yep later if she wants.
posted by The Deej at 2:54 PM on January 20, 2008

I agree with The Deej. Set up a folder with sub-folders. Does she have Tiger or Leopard? Because the CoverFlow function in Leopard would even allow her to "see" those recipes as she browses.
posted by stefnet at 3:16 PM on January 20, 2008

Response by poster: sharkfu - Too many to type in, and she's a slow typer with arthritis to boot.

The Deej - I might try that, but she wanted a program to hold everything.
posted by SansPoint at 3:33 PM on January 20, 2008

I'd really advise your mom to put her recipes online somewhere at least as a backup (maybe you can help). My mom has repeatedly lost her recipes that she put on the computer, due to computer problems, getting new software and upgrading computers. It really frustrated her.
posted by bindasj at 3:39 PM on January 20, 2008

Are these just scanned images or images that get embedded data / OCR / etc? If it were the former, and I wanted to make this as uber easy as possible, I'd just use a digital camera and iPhoto. You plug the camera in, it sucks all your "recipes" into iPhoto in one go (no constantly getting them into the machine one by one), and you can drag them into various folders (or "binders", if you will) easily.
posted by wackybrit at 3:42 PM on January 20, 2008

another vote for digicam and iPhoto. recently got rid of a pile of magazines but wanted to save certain articles. i set up a tripod and big worklight with a leftover glass sheet. much quicker than scanning, and good enough to read, after zooming in a bit.

my camera is only 2 MP, and it's enough res.
posted by KenManiac at 4:32 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

When my Mum first got her computer, I set up her scanning software to export each scanned image to iPhoto. In iPhoto she could look through her images, make folders with one click, and add images to folder by dragging. While she has since become more comfortable and moved on to bigger and better systems, this worked well.

Wemayfreeze has a good point. Organising and modifying data using computers requires a number of abstractions, such as thinking of data in terms of files, folders, etc. Some of these have real-world equivalents, such as organising files in folders. Others have have equivalents that might not be as practical or make as much sense outside of the computer world (I've never tagged real-life documents in the same way that I would on a computer). With my Mum I found that starting with the systems that have real-life equivalents was best (such as organising her photos in different folders using iPhoto). Even then, the concept of the files being in her main library and in a folder at the same time took a brief explanation at first.
posted by teem at 4:59 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

What's wrong with just iPhoto albums?
posted by sourwookie at 8:13 PM on January 20, 2008

If your folks have moved from a PC to a Mac, SansPoint, could she be having trouble with not having a two-button mouse? Or does their system have one?

Sorry to say, but it might take an outsider's perspective and patience to sit down with your mother and walk her through the steps of whatever programs you think she should learn. In my freelance days, I tutored many seniors who had children and grandchildren making their respective incomes and/or spending free time with PCs or Macs--children and grandchildren who were or could be making much more money than I in computer-related fields, even after the dot-com days.

The offspring made assumptions and my "students" had assumptions of their own. As a third party, I could safely challenge those assumptions and, as a result, solve problems. Pre- and post-holidays were my busiest times because the kids realized that they could potentially spend the entire break "butting heads" and/or troubleshooting for their parents/grandparents and feel as if they had worked throughout the holiday, with frustration all-around to answer for it.
posted by bonobo at 9:23 PM on January 20, 2008

Not cheap, but there's DevonThink, which coupled with a scanner, would be pretty simple to use, once you set it up for her.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:34 AM on January 22, 2008

Scanning into something like yojimbo would be pretty simple.

Not cheap, but there's DevonThink, which coupled with a scanner, would be pretty simple to use, once you set it up for her.

That's like taking a spaceship to the corner store. Way too complicated, way too much power.
posted by justgary at 2:13 AM on January 23, 2008

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