Managing Your Document Archive

I’ve raved several times about the Fujitsu ScanSnap Scanner and how it has changed my life. However, this fabulous scanner is only part one of my home document management equation. Part two is the software that helps me organize my scanned documents so I can find them again when I need them.

the personal archive badgeInitially, I bought the ScanSnap scanner to manage household business paperwork – statements, receipts, warranty cards, insurance policies and such – but I found it also works great for managing instruction manuals, magazine clippings, recipes and all those other pieces of paper you want to keep but are running out of places to store. And now I have a growing collection of periodicals (technical, genealogical and historical), family histories and other electronic publications. So, my need to manage all this has grown too.

My very first scanner came with a copy of PaperPort [Windows, $99.99]. It was an amazing application, allowing me to build a catalog of every document I scanned and keep track of where all my PDF files were located on my system. Over the years, upgrades added more and more business level features to the app along with higher prices. It was still very good at what it did, but it just did much more than I needed and at a cost beyond what my budget could afford. When I moved from Windows to Mac, I did not mind leaving PaperPort behind.

I found a simple replacement in Yep [Mac, $25.99]. It organizes your PDF, iWork and Office documents making it easy to manage and find things when you need them. The cataloging system used tags (I love tags!) to organize the documents.

Recently Mariner Software released Paperless [Mac & Windows – $29.99]. In addition to managing my scanned and saved stuff, it also has an OCR capability which not only facilitates searching my paperwork but copy/pasting text from them for whatever editing requirements I have. This is especially useful for my collection of family history articles and biographies from research cousins. Paperless supports both document and receipt libraries. The catalog form for receipts includes fields for categorizing the receipt itself providing both the total cost and individual items if you want. All of this information can be sorted, filtered and exported to other apps (tax software quickly comes to mind). The document catalog form includes its own set of fields for categories, dates and other details about the document. Both the forms and the category lists can be totally customized to suit the user’s purpose. I especially like the smart collections feature – building document collections automatically based on search criteria.

Both Yep and Paperless support scanning directly from the ScanSnap scanner. Using the scanner’s manager app, I’ve set up scanning profiles that will perform both single- and double-sided scans directly into my app. I then add the appropriate metadata for organizing the document and the document management app does the rest.

Yep desktopInstead of folders, these document management apps use tags to index your documents. Here you are looking a the Yep workspace. In the left sidebar you see the tag list. Click on one or more tags to display the documents indexed with those tags. Now select a document and the right sidebar displays all the metadata associated with it. The toolbar at the top provides even more options for displaying your content – including a search bar.

Notice the Scan New Document button at the top right of the app window. This is useful when you want to scan something using a flatbed scanner. Choosing this option displays the scanning screen shown here.


Yep scanned documentOnce the item is scanned, I can quickly make adjustments using the tools at the bottom of the screen, then add metadata before saving the document into Yep.

I should note that each of these apps allow you to add existing documents to the library. In many cases, just copying the existing file into the appropriate library folder will initiate an indexing screen for entering the appropriate metadata for that document.

While these apps are fabulous for managing your family history archives, don’t stop there. I love Yep for keeping up with all my household minutea too. From receipts to instruction manuals to magazine clippings, it’s all here where I can pull whatever I need up in a matter of seconds. And digital storage is a lot cheaper than shelving and filing cabinets. Ain’t technology great!

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