There is one scanner which is quite popular with Mac users and that is the various versions of the Fujitsu Snapscan. Recently they have brought out a new version of their top end scanner, but to be quite honest I really can’t afford it. On the other hand, I do have the application Scanner Pro on my iPad and my iPhone and I think it cost me about a fiver to buy. The application Scanner Pro works really well indeed and does the job that I want it to do.
Get the job done with some Mac automation
As with anything in life if it is too time-consuming or just too hard then you just won’t do it. That is also the case with going paperless. It is all well and good to scan your documents, but if you then have to put them in the proper place and to make them more searchable or findable, then you might not get round to finishing the job. With this in mind I have created a neat little workflow which has my Scanner Pro scanned documents automatically uploaded into Dropbox. I then have that excellent little automation application called Hazel watch the folder in Dropbox for new scans so that it can do its magic on them. The magic in the workflow is a renaming of the file, the use of some AppleScript to send the renamed file to Evernote and then finally a cleanup action to delete the file from the folder.
Notebooks and tagging in Evernote
The nice thing about Evernote is that it is not just one notebook with a whole load of notes in it. You can create a number of separate notebooks within the application and this makes Evernote much more useful. Proper tidiness, as everybody knows, is – A place for everything and everything in its place. So you can create my notebook which is just for your household bills and you can also have other notebooks for whatever special use as you see fit.
Tagging to find stuff
I like to use tagging on my Mac as much as possible. When I create videos, I give the videos for YouTube the tag ‘YouTube’ and if I create an article which is for YouTube and I can also use the same tag. It is as simple as anything then when I want to do a search for things to do with YouTube I can search for objects that have been tagged in this way. It doesn’t matter whether it is some text, an image or some writing, the search will find everything with that tag. I highly recommend using tagging in OSX which you can easily do with the application Default Folder which appears automatically when you are saving stuff on your Mac. There is also an application called Tag It. You will also find the possibility to use tagging within Evernote. With this system you could do a search that will find anything even if they are in different notebooks. When you are searching in the iOS application of Evernote you can do a search based on tags.
Using Scanner Pro
The application is very simple to use, all you have to do is to point the camera of your iPad or iPhone directly at the document you want to scan and take the picture. This is not just the same as using the camera app because you get extra facilities which are specific to scanning documents. You get controls to adjust the contrast and the exposure, but more importantly Scanner Pro will automatically find the borders of your document. This is particularly useful if you have taken the image and it is a little skewed, Scanner Pro will de-skew the image for you. It is better to try and get it as straight as possible, but very good to have the software correct where necessary.
Scan multipage documents with Scanner Pro
The files that are created are PDFs and therefore can contain more than one page. It is very simple to scan as many pages as you need to and save them as one PDF. When you are prompted to save the file it suggests a name starting with the word scan followed by the date. I usually leave the word scan in place and then just add a code letter, such as the E for Electric if I am scanning the electric bill. My automation workflow, the rules in Hazel will know what to do with that scan when it arrives in the Dropbox folder.
What to do if you have to scan a lot of documents
So far I have only been scanning one or two documents here and there. If I had a lot of documents to scan then I would set something up so that the iPhone or iPad was held steady in one position. I would then be able to quickly make the scan, take the document out and replace it with another document to make the next scan. Another thing to note is that when you do your scanning, the pages are generally white with black text on them, so you should place the documents onto a table that is not coloured white. I have placed documents onto a wooden surface and there has been sufficient contrast that the feature which finds the edges of the document works well in this case.
The Mac20Q verdict on the application Scanner Pro
Scanner Pro is a simple application that does one thing and does it well. It is good at finding the borders of your document and the skewing the document is necessary. The images of the documents once they have been scanned are top quality and great for the purpose of going paperless. It is better to scan using a roller feed scanner connected to your Mac, especially if you have introduced some creases and the paper is not totally flat when you make the image. If you store the documents as flat as possible before you take your scan image then you will have no problems in using Scanner Pro. In terms of value for money in comparison to the full-blown scanners like Fujitsu Snap Scan, you can’t go far wrong by using this iOS application Scanner Pro for scanning.