Many workplaces, both commercial and domestic, continue to be inundated by paper despite the proliferation of electronic gadgets. Trees are being sacrificed to produce these mountains of paper, and the chaos they create makes it next to impossible to track down a specific piece of paper.
Eliminate the need for paper. And don’t worry about how much time it might take; with today’s apps and gadgets, digitizing your papers and storing them in the cloud is a breeze.
At the Outset
First, you should evaluate your present work habits before embarking on your own paperless revolution. Think about strategies to reduce the amount of paper that comes in. After all, you don’t want the paper to start piling up again once you’ve archived your records and switched to a digital-only setup. You’ll have an easier time maintaining order in your post-paper life if you turn off the flow of information today.
Examine the various pieces of frequent correspondence you get in the mail or in person as a starting point. Is electronic delivery an option or should we contact the senders? Paperless statements and invoices are now often offered by institutions like banks and mobile phone providers. Many of the services you use on a regular basis (cable, energy, etc.) also offer digital options. They can save money by not mailing anything.
Next, broaden your practice to encompass both repeatable and ad hoc purchases. Make sure you get everything in digital format, from your hotel bill and receipts to your lecture notes. Also, ask if you can switch to electronic newsletters instead of paper ones.
However, not every paper item needs a digital equivalent; some mail can be discarded outright. If you’re going paperless anyway, you might as well stop receiving all those emails you never open. It will be much simpler to maintain a paperless lifestyle if you make an effort to prevent incoming documents at their source.
Apps that Scan
These days, many apps offer to turn your paper documents into digital equivalents with a quick click of your phone’s camera. After digitizing your documents, several of these tools will also keep copies of them for you. We combed through all the alternatives and picked out the top applications for you to try.
For our first stop, let’s head to Google Drive. While its file-storage feature is accessible on any gadget, the app’s scanning functionality is currently limited to Android mobile devices. To put this function to work, tap the huge blue + icon on the front screen, choose Scan, and photograph documents using your device’s camera.
Drive will automatically straighten the image, convert it into a PDF, and add it to your Google Drive cloud storage. This seamless process often produced a decent-quality file—although it does depend on your phone’s camera—so you can trash the original document knowing you have a copy safely stored online. As an added bonus, Google Drive can scan the contents of your PDFs to make the text searchable.
Flexible note-taking app Evernote offers a spin-off scanning software called Scannable. This one’s exclusively available on iOS devices. You frame your receipt, business cards, or documents, push the shutter button, and Scannable takes care of the rest. The program can save scans as JPEGs or PDFs, but unlike Drive, it doesn’t enable automatic text scanning.
If you need that feature for a particular document, you could always submit it to Google Drive. CamScanner, one of the best cross-platform tools for the job, provides both Android and iOS versions. It automatically straightens and optimizes your documents to make the text legible, and like Drive, them scans the text inside PDFs to make it searchable.
You may annotate your papers, apply watermarks, and quickly share the results with other people. However, if you wish to keep your documents with CamScanner, or to invite several collaborators to access these files, you’ll need to purchase a premium plan for $4.99 and up per month.
If you like the sound of CamScanner, take a look at Genius Scan, which is extremely similar in form and function, and is also available for Android and iOS. It can straighten your wonky scans and increase legibility, as well as effortlessly stitch many documents together into a single file and distribute the result to storage sites like Google Drive or Dropbox.
They provide OCR on the Genius Scan Plus and Genius Scan Ultra plans. There are no ads on Genius Scan, neither on the free version nor on the paid ones. Genius Scan Plus and Genius Scan Ultra are both obtainable only through subscriptions, not a one-time fee. Finally, Apple’s iOS 11 has integrated document scanning. Open the Notes app, hit the + symbol at the bottom, and then pick Scan Documents.
Next, set your paper in front of the camera, push the shutter button, and the app will import it. You can’t search through the content inside your papers, but you can add annotations on top, Export Notes as Pd Fs, and Share These Files to Any Other App on Your Device.
With so many free apps accessible, why would you bother to invest cash on a separate gadget? Because hardware alternatives allow you to plow through reams of documents considerably faster. They also improve the quality of scans, which leads to more accurate text recognition.
Start by looking at the familiar flat-bed scanners. Because so many types, both independent scanners, and ones connected with printers, are available for sale, we won’t recommend one or two in particular.
Frankly, just about any flatbed scanner will do the job. You set your documents on the plate, push the scan button, and a copy appears on your computer. Look for scanners that offer software with features like PDF conversion and the option to sew numerous pages into a single file.