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Jamie Todd Rubin

paperless 3 tips to get started going paperless with Evernote

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I thought a good way to start this forum would be to provide some tips that I found helpful when I started going paperless at home. Here are 3 things that worked for me:

1. Start by going forward, not backward. I decided that it would be too much of an initial effort to go through my filing cabinet and scan in all that paper. So I decided at the outset to start with new paper as it came in. This helped the task seem much less daunting. Maybe I'll get back to the filing cabinet one day--but as it is, I almost never open it so there's no need to waste time scanning

2. Start with a simple organization. I do a lot of taxonomy-related work with data in my day job. One thing I've learned is that the simpler the system, the easier it is to use. For my paperless life at home, I use one notebook in Evernote. I call it my Paperless Filing Cabinet. Everything goes into that notebook and most of it gets tagged. I try to limit the tags to simple, easy-to-think of things. Mostly, when I need to find something, I depend on Evernote's search capabilities; the fact that it can even make scanned PDFs searchable is a powerful feature. I can usually come up with the document I'm looking for in seconds--much faster than if I were thumbing through my filing cabinet.

3. Establish a routine. I try and deal with paper once each day. When I get home from work, I grab the mail, sort through it, and scan in any paper that I want to keep. I then shred the original. I takes 5-10 minutes each day and the paper doesn't stack up on my desk, waiting to be scanned. Plus, it is available for me to search and access instantly.

Do have any tips to share on using Evernote to go paperless? Let's hear them!

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I thought a good way to start this forum would be to provide some tips that I found helpful when I started going paperless at home. Here are 3 things that worked for me:

1. Start by going forward, not backward. I decided that it would be too much of an initial effort to go through my filing cabinet and scan in all that paper. So I decided at the outset to start with new paper as it came in. This helped the task seem much less daunting. Maybe I'll get back to the filing cabinet one day--but as it is, I almost never open it so there's no need to waste time scanning

2. Start with a simple organization. I do a lot of taxonomy-related work with data in my day job. One thing I've learned is that the simpler the system, the easier it is to use. For my paperless life at home, I use one notebook in Evernote. I call it my Paperless Filing Cabinet. Everything goes into that notebook and most of it gets tagged. I try to limit the tags to simple, easy-to-think of things. Mostly, when I need to find something, I depend on Evernote's search capabilities; the fact that it can even make scanned PDFs searchable is a powerful feature. I can usually come up with the document I'm looking for in seconds--much faster than if I were thumbing through my filing cabinet.

3. Establish a routine. I try and deal with paper once each day. When I get home from work, I grab the mail, sort through it, and scan in any paper that I want to keep. I then shred the original. I takes 5-10 minutes each day and the paper doesn't stack up on my desk, waiting to be scanned. Plus, it is available for me to search and access instantly.

Do have any tips to share on using Evernote to go paperless? Let's hear them!

Since I started using a smartphone I take a picture of everything non electronic that I want to keep and share it as an Evernote. This can be a utility bill that needs paying, an interesting article in the newspaper or something on a whiteboard. Basically anything that is not yet in electronic form. Everything is synced automatically to all my Evernote devices so I have it available on my laptop at work, my Asus Transformer tablet and my desktop computer at home. No more paper necessary. I even threw out my printer at home.

The only problem encountered so far is when I needed to present an e-ticket on paper so that the barcode could be read.

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I too have been trying to go paperless. I scan all my papers into Evernote using a ScanSnap scanner which means they go straight to Evernote. I send a lot of e-mails to Evernote automatically, and print receipts etc. straight into Evernote as a PDF.

I have a Notebook called _Inbox into which all notes are sent first. From there its a matter of a few moments once or twice a day to assign them to their proper place, and to tag as needed.

Sadly, as I run a business I have to keep some of the papers I scan so I still have a working filing cabinet.

Unlike Nico I have kept the printer as there are times when I need to print off papers. Usually when I create a handout for a presentation.

I've found that for me the best way to keep the paper down is to scan and assign in Evernote regularly throughout the day.

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Unfortunately I am still a long way from paperless - old habits are hard to break - but here is what I at least attempt to do on a daily basis:

1. Web-clip or smartphone snapshots or audio notes for things I want to remember.

2. Scan everything at home - I can retrieve anything important that has come through my hands lately and other very cool stuff like my mom and dad's marriage license. Now even in disaster or with the disaster known as time I have everything that is important.

3. Email forward anything that makes sense to save. I use this a lot at work for documentation and "No, boss, you said this in that email..." type things.

I, too, have my printer still. It's handy when I have to give legal papers to the doctor for my mom or things like that.

One thing I see a lot of people doing is taking photos with their phones and emailing them to Evernote. I don't know about all versions, but the version of Evernote on my android phone has a snapshot button that saves the extra step and avoids the ugly email headers so don't forget about that.

Paperless, or at least at my stage of electronic copies of everything, is a nice place to be when tax time comes and you have to add up all those medical receipts!

Cheers.

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I've gone paperless. My ScanSnap and I spent many, many, many hours together going through years of documents, notes, articles, and all sorts of other paraphenelia. I literally filled up trashbags full of papers. I don't know how many. I also got rid of several bookcases. The process seemed to go on forever. I had over 300 pieces of paper for one university class I took a few years ago, for example. But, now I have achieved my goal! Now I only have a couple of folders for documents like social security cards, passports, and other originals that I need. It is amazing.

My next goal is to digitize my personal library. I am a researcher and have several hundred books. I am quite a ways along, but it may take me a few years, because I don't feel the same sense of urgency there.

Anyhow, Evernote makes it easy, and I am very thankful for it :huh:

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My next goal is to digitize my personal library. I am a researcher and have several hundred books.

Any special plans/tips on how to do that? Or just long hours with a scanner, a glass of wine & nice music? I have one paperback book that I bought two copies of. I'm thinking of taking one copy & trimming off the binding & feeding it through my sheet fed scanner. But I also have a few other old (circa 1960's), out of print that I'd like to scan. Since they were never best sellers, probably no chance of getting another copy to tear apart. As far as I can tell, I'm going to have to do them page by page by page by page... Not really a big deal but.. (sigh)

I guess another option is to borrow a 12 y/o kid & pay them to scan.

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... have several hundred books. I am quite a ways along, but it may take me a few years, because I don't feel the same sense of urgency there.

I have the same topic with a large collection of magazines. Often the size of the pages do not fit into the sheet feeder of the scanner and to cut them to make them fitting takes ages. So what I will try next is to mount a digital camera to a tripod looking straight down to the floor and with enough light it should be possible to take pictures of each page with a decent speed.

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... have several hundred books. I am quite a ways along, but it may take me a few years, because I don't feel the same sense of urgency there.

I have the same topic with a large collection of magazines. Often the size of the pages do not fit into the sheet feeder of the scanner and to cut them to make them fitting takes ages. So what I will try next is to mount a digital camera to a tripod looking straight down to the floor and with enough light it should be possible to take pictures of each page with a decent speed.

If you do this any time soon, please post how it's working for you & the camera specs. I have an iPhone 4, which (so far) works well as a mini-portable scanner on occasion. I'ved used it with a regular sized magazine & that worked well the couple of times I did that. I sure wouldn't want to do that for mass quantities. I do have a tripod & a ~5 y/o point & shoot but haven't tried it with books/magazines, yet.

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... have several hundred books. I am quite a ways along, but it may take me a few years, because I don't feel the same sense of urgency there.

I have the same topic with a large collection of magazines. Often the size of the pages do not fit into the sheet feeder of the scanner and to cut them to make them fitting takes ages. So what I will try next is to mount a digital camera to a tripod looking straight down to the floor and with enough light it should be possible to take pictures of each page with a decent speed.

Good thing I have Evernote or I probably would have spent days trying to remember this, but a year or two ago I came across an article for a professional book scanner. http://mini.atiz.com/

It does an excellent job from what I see; however, it looks like it is quite expensive. I would recommend this option only for people who have a large number of books they want to scan and also if money is no object.

The other option is you could invest in a flatbed scanner and scan in one page at a time. Unfortunately even with the new flatbed scanners out on the market this is a time consuming process. I originally thought of making pdfs of all my magazines this way, but I might consider just scanning the pages I want to keep rather than the whole magazine itself.

Lastly you could use good digital cameras and make your own book scanner on the cheap. Here is a link to some guides that can help get you started.

http://www.instructa...&q=book+scanner

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For me, getting a good scanner was a critical step. I have a flatbed scanner and an all-in-one device...but they are just too slow. I would periodically scan stuff but, more often than not, papers would just pile up on my desk. And then move into bags or boxes, allegedly on their way to a filing cabinet.

I finally broke down and purchased a Fujitsu ScanSnap. It arrived today and I started going through the stuff on my desk. I was blown away by the speed! It's no longer a chore. At first, I was saving to a folder that automatically imports into Evernote. Then I updated the software and saw a new Scan To Evernote button, so it's even easier now.

If you're balking at the price, well, don't. After just an hour or so of scanning, I know this was a worthwhile purchase. No doubt about it. I'm excited about diving in to a paperless lifestyle!

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There are basically three ways I use to scan bound materials, and my end goal is to do it in such a way that I am able to read them on the iPad (and, in many cases, on the Kindle DX):

1. tear it apart and feed it through a scanner

2. take pictures (two pages at a time if possible)

3. use a flatbed scanner

I prefer (1) whenever possible. And, ideally you can get your hands on an office-quality scanner that will do 600 dpi B+W or color at very fast speeds. With one of these I can easily do a 300 page book in about five minutes (tear it apart (surprisingly easy), trim the edges with one of those guillotine paper cutters, and feed it through). Last year I had access to two and was scanning two books at a time :) Scansnap is a nice alternative, but can't handle large paper sizes, frequently (compared to expensive office units) jams or double feeds, and is kind of slow (compared to those nice office ones). Although you destroy the material in the process, the best thing about it is that you get great results from the optical character recognition (OCR) and it takes very little effort.

I do the picture thing a lot and it works pretty well. I set it up like this with a tripod (http://www.subchaser...phing-documents). The lighting is really important. I don't have lights like the ones shown there, but I try to make sure to illuminate the area well or take advantage of sunlight. I use a Canon SD1400 IS. It is inexpensive and takes fabulous pictures. It certainly isn't professional quality, and the OCR isn't as good as what you will get with a scanned copy, but I am unwilling to lug around a big camera or spend the money on such a contraption. I would say a 300 page book takes about 20 or 30 minutes. Alternatively, you could build your own professional camera/scanner (http://www.diybookscanner.org/). I am too lazy to build it. Maybe someday.

Flatbed scanners are OK, if you can use an office quality one. I can easily go through a 300 page book in about 20 minutes on those. The results are nice and about the same as what you would get if you tore the book apart and fed it through. A book with a really tight spine with narrow margins can be difficult. I have purchased and used several consumer products, and all of them have been painfully slow. To the best of my knowledge, there is simply nothing available to the regular consumer that scans at a decent rate and I do not have the patience to spend my time this way. I recently bought one in Japan that was supposedly geared towards book scanning and I think I might have gotten through about a page every thirty seconds at the most. It was agonizing.

*I should note that I often scan books in Japanese and Chinese with very small fonts and complex characters, so high dpi is important. In general, English language books (even academic ones) tend to have large fonts with clearly printed text, and 300 dpi or so is often sufficient to generate good OCR. The lower the dpi, the faster things go!

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At first I didn’t think record-keeping in Evernote was going to be viable. I had a flatbed scanner and my first experience of scanning more than one sheet was so labour intensive and s-l-o-w that it was nearly my last.

Then I read an article about newer faster scanners being designed, based more on the lines of digital cameras, and thought: “I have a digital camera…”

I tested that snaps could actually work for OCR, and found that the critical elements were – lighting; keeping the subject item flat; keeping the camera still; and not knocking everything over when you turn a page.

Then I built a copying frame – sounds grand, but it was a spare piece of board, a chunk of thin glass from a friendly picture framer and a lot of duct tape. Hinge long side of glass to long side of wood, and there you have a stable, flat page holder.

Lighting is 4 Ikea spots on a clothes rail that is (more or less) directly over the table where the frame rests. The table is a U-shaped cantilever thing that can hover over a bed or a chair, and handily tilts to 45 degrees. Tilt table up, tilt camera+tripod down, and you’re in business.

You need to try to keep the camera lens parallel with and in the centre of the item to be copied, and add a little zoom to avoid distortion.

Trade secret for colour copies – your camera will love you if there’s some grey duct tape marking the edge of your picture field. The neutral grey allows for accurate(ish) colour correction.

Then I got a ScanSnap and stopped using the copying frame quite so much, though it still comes out for big / bound / weird items.

Most of my life I’ve had the collecting habits of a squirrel so far as books and documents have been concerned, plus I’ve been involved in research and various other disciplines that seem to generate paper in landfill quantities.

So far I have converted a roomful of boxes* into scanned pages by photo and ScanSnap (Evernote 11/10, ScanSnap 10.9/10). And generated a lot of shredded paper waste.

My checklist for scanning is

1) Is there a copy of the item to be scanned on the net? If so, grab online version and relax.

2) Is the item scanner-friendly? (i.e. flat and in bits) - If so, scan it.

No? Is it disposable? - split into pages and scan. (I have a very large sharp knife to help with this)

3) Non-standard size? (e.g. magazines and some newspapers) - copying frame. (Or if really large – stick to a well-lit wall)

4) Books? It’s possible to put one page after another into a copying frame and take photographs, but it will obviously take time. A lot of books do exist online – it’s worth a search to see. Otherwise patience – or a willing / well-bribed and reasonably reliable assistant – is required. Don’t forget you have to string all these pictures together and OCR them afterward, and keep within the size limit for notes…

* to be more accurate; a room, lined with shelves, mainly holding boxes.

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This is a great thread. I don't know that I will ever do the camera thing. But it's great to know about the option, in case I run across something that won't work with one of my existing scanners.

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Sorry for joining in late, but I have a (maybe stupid) question for which I have not been able to find an answer yet in this forum and the knowledge base. Being now in China, I cannot access videos. So here it is:

How can I ocr a photo in Evernote?

I travel a lot, I do not have a scanner and I would like to be able to OCR a couple of documents here and there. I take the photos with my iPhone 4S, then what?

Thanks for your help and sorry again if this has been dealt with before!

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I travel a lot, I do not have a scanner and I would like to be able to OCR a couple of documents here and there. I take the photos with my iPhone 4S, then what?

Hi there. Is the purpose to make the photos/documents searchable in Evernote? Evernote does this automatically (your photos should be searchable a few hours after first synced with the Evernote servers). You need Evernote to be able to sync (read: internet connection) for this to work though.

As for off-line OCR apps, unfortunately you can't really expect good text recognition with the apps that are available for iOS (at least with the dozen or so apps that I've tried one or two years ago). OCRTOOL is the app which I kept. It does a mediocre (read: good for an iPhone app) OCR job. It creates PDFs as well (I think they are searchable).

There might be better apps available by now.

Hope this helps.

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Yes, it does help, thanks! I had never thought about using the search field and with your help I realized that images of text can be searched.

I understand that turning images of text into text is not part of Evernote's functions, and in case I want to do this, I will look at the app you suggested.

Thanks again.

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I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this and other threads about scanning stuff into Evernote! By sharing your experiences on the forums, you helped me to decide on the perfect scanner for me (and how to use it to go paperless).

I have been using the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 on my Mac since christmas, have already scanned some 500 pages total, and love it. What often doesn't get mentioned in hardware discussions is the accompanying software, and I must say that the ScanSnap software is really nice to use -- it aces aspects like sensible defaults and do-what-I-mean. Yes, the scanner costs a lot of money, but I find the price justified for what this scanner does (and particularly how painless it does its job).

As for the workflow, my situation is pretty much identical to vatark: I let the ScanSnap software do the OCR, and all new notes end up as PDFs in my _Inbox notebook (yes, underscore :)). I put stuff in their proper places is a separate step, when I work through my inbox.

I'm interested in whether others tag and file their stuff right away after scanning (or at all).

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I use a folder called Incoming - everything I clip or scan goes there. From there, the relevant Tags are added and sent to folders - simple structure, e.g. Media as the Stack folder and under it the various sources I take media articles from.

One very nice feature I found, is Evernote Clearly, it makes clipping so much easier and quicker.

I often sit in on Telecons (meetings via phone) and have learnt to place phone on speaker phone, then type out brief notes of the meeting onto Word document, from where I print to PDF and send to Evernote as the search facility works far better wit PDF than Word doc. Added, within the folder structure on local harddrive, I can search within any PDF contained in same folder, just another point outside of Evernote.

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I recently attended a trade show and have the usual two-inch stack of business cards. I took pictures of the cards and found that the OCR works great for search, even highlighting the field that I'm looking for. I'd really like to take this to the next step and be able to do things like select text from the graphic and be able to paste it into an email or send it to a phone or develop a contacts database. Is there any way to do that? If it's in the Premium version, I'd probably spring for it.

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I recently attended a trade show and have the usual two-inch stack of business cards. I took pictures of the cards and found that the OCR works great for search, even highlighting the field that I'm looking for. I'd really like to take this to the next step and be able to do things like select text from the graphic and be able to paste it into an email or send it to a phone or develop a contacts database. Is there any way to do that? If it's in the Premium version, I'd probably spring for it.

The OCR process for Evernote is strictly for searching. If you want true conversion to text, you'll need to use a true OCR application. I suggest you search the board on the topic, as I seem to recall someone talking about this before. Another option would be to use a scanner with software that will do the OCR for you.

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Thanks for the response! It appears that I'm not the first to request the feature

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and it also looks like Microsoft OneNote has the capability

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It would be a huge help creating a contacts database, or making sense of handwritten notes. I hope EN will consider adding it as a feature. I'd be willing to fork over a few bucks for the capability, particularly if it were integrated into EN.

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