When you start to go paperless, sooner or later you’ll probably find yourself wanting to use a dedicated document scanner. It’s much quicker and easier to tear through scanning many pages of paper than using a flatbed scanner or a multifunction printer. It also makes scanning double-sided documents a breeze.
Before you start scanning pages, create folders on your computer’s hard drive so these are ready to go when you are. Next, collect a pile of paper that needs scanning, sit down - and start dispensing with paper.
Folder set up
In Windows Explorer, open the My Documents folder. Click on Make a New Folder to start creating your folder structure for saving your documents into. You’ll need to repeat this step for as many folders as you think you’ll need.
Right-click on the folder and select Rename
to give the folder a new name. You might want to start with house and car documents, and you can also create sub-folders for individual items including car, health, life, house insurances.
You can then continue creating as many different folders as you think you will need for your paperless documents. Give some thought to the way you want to structure your files. For example, it makes sense to place financial documents in their own folder. Be sure to keep receipts and other tax documents organised by financial year as it will make it easier to sort through it all at tax time.
Pick a file name convention and stick to it. Use naming systems that will be easy to remember and that cover the different types of documents that you’ll be saving. Avoid too many characters or strict punctuation. The file name should give some clue to what the file contains to aid your search when you need to find a document at a later date.
If you use the year and month your files will automatically be organised for you. Then you can choose a category and a more specific name for that particular receipt, statement or document. A suggestion for a simple, effective file naming convention is as follows:
Year – Month – Category – Document Name.pdf
2013 – 01 – itunes receipt – pages app.pdf
Document scanning step-by-step
Plug the scanner into the power. Install the software onto the computer from the enclosed CD. Do this before plugging the scanner into the computer. Click Run ScanSnap.exe and follow the prompts from the install wizard to install the scanning software.
Plug the device into the USB slot on the computer, and open the cover. If there is an extendable document holder, pull this up. Adjust the width size guide and place document/s into the tray ready for scanning. If there are multiple pages, place the first page at the front and subsequent pages after this so they scan in order. The document/s should then be set face down and top first. Press the scan button on the scanner to begin.
The scanner software will open with a number of options for saving the document. Choose a destination source depending on what you want to do with the file. In this case, we’re saving the file into a folder. You can scan to email, or for uploading to Google Docs, Word, PowerPoint, for Mobile and so on. Note that you may need to be set up to activate some of these options; for example, you will need to enter a Gmail account, connect to an email program or have Windows installed on the computer to use these options.
In the File name box, give the file a name, and then in the Save in box, select the destination folder by clicking on the Browse button. When this is all done, click Save. The scanner will automatically scan both sides of a double-sided document so this file will have multiple pages as each side of the original page becomes a separate page. Repeat this process to scan more documents.
Computer automation with Hazel and Belvedere
Going paperless means scanning a lot of documents, which, in turn, means creating a lot of files, saving them and moving them between folders so they’re stored in the right location. If you find that you’re repeating the same task over and over again every day, you might want to consider an automation program that will do some of the saving, copying and moving files.
There are a couple of programs that can help with these tasks. Belvedere for PC and Hazel for Mac are similar automation programs. You create rules carrying out certain actions on files based on the file name, the extension or type of file, size, age, location and so on.