The Paperless Office Nearly

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The paperless office may not be a reality just yet but there are certainly many options for reducing the amount of paperwork the average household and business collects. No end of letters still drop through the letterbox even in this modern age of email and online document storage, online bank statements for example. Some of them actually also survive a mauling from the family dogs who also appear to dislike junk mail. For a number of years I have been scanning important documents and retaining these electronic copies in case they are needed, I have then shredded the originals. This has saved me every couple of years having to sit down in front of the filing cabinet and have a sort out to make way for future paperwork.

My document format of choice is Adobe Acrobat, ‘pdf’ files as they may be known. These files can be quite small and have the advantage of storing additional information such as the actual text and not just a ‘picture of a document’. Saving high quality pictures of printed documents takes up a large amount of space on your hard disk and it won’t take long to fill it up if the amount of mail I get is anything to go by!

Previously I used a paid solution to scan and save images as ‘pdf’ files but then I discovered ‘Not Another PDF Scanner’ or as it is more affectionately known ‘NAPS2’. The software can be downloaded for free from the NAPS website at It takes a very short time to install, and if you prefer there is a ‘non installation’ version that can be unpacked and copied to a memory stick so you can take it with you and use a scanner wherever you find one. For example at work I have access to a high speed duplex (dual sided) scanner so I scan large documents there, such as contracts, much more quickly. Also on the memory stick I have created a folder structure for the documents to be stored, and within the folder sub folders for each type of documents, for example credit cards, store cards, banks, pet care, health, etc.

Within each folder is a year, and in these folders I store the actual documents with suitable names. NAPS2 has the ability to recognise the actual words within a ‘scanned document’ which is in effect a picture once scanned. The process is called Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and it looks at the shapes of the letters and words converting it into a text layer that is stored with the ‘pdf’ of your document. These text layers can be searched later using the built in tools within windows if you can’t find what you are looking for.

I can’t recommend NAPS2 highly enough. It’s free and reliable and is being actively developed putting many ‘paid for’ software packages to shame. Download a copy now and start de-cluttering your filing cabinet. I also store a copy of my documents within ‘Dropbox’, others may prefer ‘Google Drive’ and this means I have access to the documents on my phone, tablet and online 24/7 as you never know when and where you might need to call upon a document.

2016-08-05 16:59:44

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