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sgtaylor5

Scanning past year’s receipts

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I have many years of receipts from my life and business. Is there a way to scan so OCR sees the date and time of the actual receipt and has that available for later programmatic use? Most processes scan and store by scan date and time. That wouldn’t be practical for future retrieval.

If said original date and time were available, another process could file the receipt by date into a folder specified before the scan run. (One month per scan run; half-yearly folders in one stack)

Otherwise I’d have to start now and even my January and February receipts to date wouldn’t be in Evernote.

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1 hour ago, sgtaylor5 said:

Is there a way to scan so OCR sees the date and time of the actual receipt and has that available for later programmatic use.

imho  No   
The scan/ocr could pick up dates and times, but the format and location is so random we can't make use of it

My process is to manually add the date as a prefix to the note title   
I default to current date, and adjust as required

An example note title is   
2020-02-16 Receipt [Groceries] ?Vendor-Walmart !Budget-Food $-47.95

>>file the receipt by date into a folder specified before the scan run. (One month per scan run; half-yearly folders in one stack)

I need no special filing, but add tags for vendor and budget category (replicated in the note title)
The receipts are retrievable by date, vendor, budget category, ...

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@DTLow, thanks for the fast response.

I was hoping there was a way; but I’m not surprised there isn’t. One thing I’m going to do is get a small portable Mac-capable (Mojave) scanner for the historical work. Phone scanner will work for the future.

Steve

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22 minutes ago, sgtaylor5 said:

I have many years of receipts from my life and business. Is there a way to scan so OCR sees the date and time of the actual receipt and has that available for later programmatic use? Most processes scan and store by scan date and time. That wouldn’t be practical for future retrieval.

If said original date and time were available, another process could file the receipt by date into a folder specified before the scan run. (One month per scan run; half-yearly folders in one stack)

Otherwise I’d have to start now and even my January and February receipts to date wouldn’t be in Evernote.

Not within EN.  You can search receipts by date but that can be hit and miss as well.  Some receipts have four digit dates and some have two and with all the numbers on a receipt you can get false positives.  May be best to manually sort before loading into EN.  

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In Real Time, using Evernote Scannable iOS, I have just scanned in January's receipts, titled by date. To wit: in the folder "2020 Receipts Q1-Q2" with a naming convention of "Receipts 2020-01-01". I can look up what I need in QuickBooks, and find the receipt in Evernote with a search.

Thank you all. Didn't think it'd be so fast. On to February's receipts...

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Just an addition, you can use what you just described:

For my easy scanning, I use the app ScannerPro from readdle on my iPhone. For heavy lifting, I use my ix500, but this will be above 5-10 pages, duplex etc.

ScannerPro scans well, with more options than in EN (like brightness, contrast, document type). What I like (with my iPhone 11 Pro Max) is that it allows me to use the 2x tele lens for scanning. This increases the distance to the document, which helps to avoid shadows from light sources. It does it's own OCR as well, so I can for example extract text from a scan.

After the scanning is done, ScannerPro has a very nice feature: Workflows. I have set up several of them, each for one of the more frequent scanning tasks like receipts, recipes, meeting notes, events, family stuff etc. After scanning (1-several pages), and naming the document, I simply hit the corresponding workflow icon coupled to my EN account. This will send the document to a designated notebook, and will automatically assign several tags like the issue, the year and others, based on my tagging system. Each workflow has it's own Notebook/Tag-combination.

This makes scanning very fast, because it speeds up processing the scans, or make it in many cases obsolete.

The app cost a few bucks, but it is worth it.

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Just to round out the discussion,  some apps can parse note content - see the Filterize blog for more.  Although it talks about covering "various date types*" there's the problem mentioned by @CalS of all the other numbers in the note.  It's possible that something more could be made of it,  but it sounds as though your 'scan in bulk and search' approach is working fine.  I've found that using order numbers,  customer numbers and post (zip) codes allows me to sort through a large number of documents pretty quickly too...

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My "master" in this case for search is QuickBooks Mac, as I run a one-man small business; everything goes in there first. I don't want to have to hold onto the physical receipts. I just looked up what the IRS wants, and digital receipts are OK, as long as you can keep and find them later.

I knew that other people would be asking that kind of question, so I asked. Thanks for all your answers.

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1 hour ago, sgtaylor5 said:

My "master" in this case for search is QuickBooks Mac, as I run a one-man small business; everything goes in there first. I don't want to have to hold onto the physical receipts. I just looked up what the IRS wants, and digital receipts are OK, as long as you can keep and find them later.

I don't have a "master", but I think Evernote is an excellent service for the storage and organization of receipts

As per your post, I use the Scannable app (iPad), and the receipt is scanned and stored in my Evernote inbox (notebook)
Inbox processing on a Mac assigns title, notebook/tags, ...

In lieu of a Quickbooks type service, I transfer the Evernote data to a spreadsheet for budget/expense analysis and reports
I have the data transfer automated with AppleScript

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I just finished scanning in December 2019; it took about 40 minutes, and I've forwarded emailed receipts for Feb, Jan and Dec to Evernote.

It makes sense for me to use QuickBooks Mac (Desktop, not a service), as I started with QB Desktop when I started my business (first year with Quicken doesn't count: ugh!). All my information is there and I know how to search fast with it. I wouldn't entrust it with receipts, although it might. I've seen how unwieldy other relational databases can get with that many images to manage (Family Tree Maker, I'm looking at you!). Evernote is made for that.

Everyone has got their own way of managing things.

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1 hour ago, sgtaylor5 said:

My "master" in this case for search is QuickBooks Mac, as I run a one-man small business; everything goes in there first. I don't want to have to hold onto the physical receipts. I just looked up what the IRS wants, and digital receipts are OK, as long as you can keep and find them later.

I knew that other people would be asking that kind of question, so I asked. Thanks for all your answers.

My process is to scan receipts with my ScanSnap 1300i.  I leave the SN generated file title as is (2020_02_07_13_18_43.pdf), tag them with Receipt and _yyyy, and store them in a receipt notebook. Per @gazumped I search for a receipt using something other than date.  The _yyyy tag and particular notebook help winnow the search results. 

I sometimes wonder if it is worth the effort, but just yesterday my wife asked for a receipt for some buttons she wanted to return, bought around Christmas time. Found and printed inside of 60 seconds.  Couldn’t have done it that quickly if I’d saved the paper. FWIW. 

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On 2/16/2020 at 6:45 PM, sgtaylor5 said:

I have many years of receipts from my life and business. Is there a way to scan so OCR sees the date and time of the actual receipt and has that available for later programmatic use? Most processes scan and store by scan date and time. That wouldn’t be practical for future retrieval.

If said original date and time were available, another process could file the receipt by date into a folder specified before the scan run. (One month per scan run; half-yearly folders in one stack)

Otherwise I’d have to start now and even my January and February receipts to date wouldn’t be in Evernote.

I use a left over portable Neat scanner to scan in my receipts. I use the desktop app and modify the created date to match the receipt date, as I scan them in at the end of the month. This allows me to sort the receipts chronologically, and find receipts by date using the created date search option. 

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Depending on the Scanner, there may exist software that tries to extract this information from the receipt (or other structured documents) and create a title including this information. There is open source software as well that tries to do this trick. From my experience it creates so many mistakes that it is easier to edit it manually.

Personally I do not create detailed information like that. If I search for a receipt, I simply type the company name and some other content, and get a usually short list of receipts. There I pick what I want. The only date information created manually or by the scanner software of my iPhone is a yearly tag. This makes it easier to collect all receipts I need for my annual tax return.

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10 hours ago, PinkElephant said:

Depending on the Scanner, there may exist software that tries to extract this information from the receipt (or other structured documents) and create a title including this information. There is open source software as well that tries to do this trick. From my experience it creates so many mistakes that it is easier to edit it manually.

Personally I do not create detailed information like that. If I search for a receipt, I simply type the company name and some other content, and get a usually short list of receipts. There I pick what I want. The only date information created manually or by the scanner software of my iPhone is a yearly tag. This makes it easier to collect all receipts I need for my annual tax return.

Ditto, though I do add a _YYYY tag in addition to the Receipt tag.  Just in case.

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17 hours ago, charlieedstrom said:

I use the desktop app and modify the created date to match the receipt date

I think the majority of users modify created date to store subject date

Personally, I prefix the note title on all my notes; for example    
        2020-05-28 Receipt [Groceries] !Budget-Food $-35.98

>>This allows me to sort the receipts chronologically, and find receipts by date using the created date search option. 

My notes are ordered chronologically when viewed in title date sequence   
Text search works to find receipts by date

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This is an ancient problem because there is no standard location or placement of the date on documents. Every bill/receipt/invoice, etc. all has the same info but in varying locations an formats. 

We struggled with this even at work back in the 80's with reports spewed out from IBM AS400's or other systems when trying to aggregate the important bits into a report usable for analysis.

There are apps that can be used to process scans or text documents and programmed to only focus on a specific area and scrape data. But, every form from every vendor would need to be individually setup. Plus, printed or PDF formats change frequently so the intelligence would have to be maintained.

 

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I use a third party app Filterize which added a feature this year... (my color emphasis on part of the text)

Haven't used this element next,  but Filterize automates several other actions in my account rather efficiently.  https://filterize.net/

 

Quote

 

Extract dates only from note title

Filterize offers several actions that allow extracting a date from a note. This is done by searching the note title and content for a format string (e.g. "%Y/%m/%d" for dates like 2020/01/20). The date can then be used to set the notes creation time, update time or even a reminder.

As an added improvement you can now choose to extract the date only from the note title by toggling the "only search in title" option.

 

 

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