As someone who came all the way back from the 20th Century, I have boxes and boxes of papers. I mean literally I have credit card statements, banking statements, invoices, utility bills, and receipts. Lots and lots of receipts of every size and shape.
I downloaded the Evernote app years ago but it pretty much sat on my phone without any use at all. I thought it might replace the Notes app since I could access my notes from anywhere (my phone, my laptop, my work computer). But at the end of the day, I realized I really didn’t need to access my Notes in so many places, and the Notes app was just so much quicker and more convenient.
Just this past month, Evernote released a new app called Scannable. And this app completely opened my eyes. It’s a smartphone app where you can simply hold your phone camera over a receipt of any size and shape and it’ll click it and let you upload it to Evernote in one fell swoop.
Suddenly I realized that Evernote could be used as an archival tool. Not long after that I was clicking and storing all my receipts. Out of about 10 boxes filled with papers, I ended up clearing and tossing about 4 of them so far–and counting.
They have a 60 MB limit a month, which is probably fine for normal use, but in order to accomplish my goal of digitizing all 10 boxes of papers I had to upgrade to the Premium account ($5 a month) which lets you upload up to 4 GB a month. And they do have unlimited storage, meaning that it’ll hold 10 or 100 or 1000 boxes of your scanned papers.
Just to give a short review of the Scannable app–I love it. It’s fast and it does a great job of taking the document you’ve snapped, optimizing the focus and resolution, and automatically sending it to Evernote. You can snap one receipt by itself and send it off to Evernote, or if you have a multi-page document you can combine all the pages and send it to Evernote at once. The optimization is impressive: you’ll see a grey-scale image get converted to black-and-white (which saves storage space) and if you’ve taken your picture at an angle it’ll even straighten out the picture for you. And another cool thing about it–once it’s in Evernote, it’ll do OCR so that you can do a text search (it’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing).
My next goal is going to be to start digitizing all my bank and credit card statements. I’ve admittedly been hesitant to sign up for electronic statements because most financial companies will store only up to 24 months. One thing I’ve learned the hard way is that sometimes I do need stuff from years ago, and by that time it’ll have disappeared from their Web site. And most of those financial companies have such horrible interfaces that it’s a pain in the neck to save the PDF month after month. So I’ve opted to receive paper, which is tangible and feels more “real”. I’ll keep it for a while, and then when I’m reasonably sure I won’t need it anymore, that’s when I’ll scan it into the cloud.
Now that Evernote got me hooked on them and the Scannable app, I decided to bite the bullet and get a Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner for PC and Mac (PA03656-B005). From reviews, this is THE scanner to get if you have lots of papers to scan. (Note that there is a similar model called the “Evernote” model, in a clever bit of cross-promotion, but you want to get this original model as it has more features and is more flexible).
So between Evernote, Scannable, and the Fujitsu scanner I’m finally going paperless. If you’re interested, click here to sign up and if you can get a free month of Premium yourself (enough to upload probably all the papers you have lying around and then some).
Even cooler, if you’re a charity or 501(c)(3) non-profit, you can get 75% off if you have 5 users or more, according to this post from Evernote. They’ve always offered this discount for schools, but according to their post, they’ll apply the discount to any 501(c)(3).