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Best document scanning software?

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  • Best document scanning software?

    I've seen a few threads by people who do most, if not all, of their general reference filing by scanning the documents in question and storing them electronically. I really like this idea and would like to give it a try myself.

    My question is, which scanning software is best? One poster mentioned that he likes to store documents in PDF. I ran across a product called Acrobat Capture 3.0, which seems to be ideal for this. Problem is it's pretty expensive. So what software do others use?

    Jason

  • #2
    Re: Best document scanning software?

    I've been using PaperPort. I believe it's a lot less expensive, but it uses its own file format so if you needed to email someone one of your scanned documents, you would need to convert it or send them a simpler doc viewer program.

    Overall, I like it quite a bit. I followed the GTD method of a physical general reference file, but the paper accumulated so quickley that I ran out of space and hated the idea of re-filing old stuff just to make room for the new. With the scan software, I can scan a doc, shred the original, and then not ever think about it again unless I have a reason to look it up.

    The most difficult thing is how long my scanner takes to scan a page. It takes some patience, but I feel in the long run it's worth it.

    C

    Comment


    • #3
      I use MS Word to scan the document, then I got a $29 shareware program called Edocpro that "prints" any file within Windows to a pdf file. It works fabulously. The Edocpro installs like a printer driver and can be selected from any Windows program. When you select print, it prompts you for the filename. The pdfs turn out exactly like a printed version would. I think I got it through Tucows.com. Search for PDF and many programs will come up.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Best document scanning software?

        Originally posted by JClishe
        ... I ran across a product called Acrobat Capture 3.0, which seems to be ideal for this. Problem is it's pretty expensive. ...
        Jason
        Do not buy Capture ($650) and Distiller Server ($4 to $5k) as these are much more than you need. You want the latest version of the standalone software: Adobe Acrobat 5.0 ($250).

        There are educational discounts for all Adobe software, including Acrobat. Currently, the educational price can be as little as $54. If you don't qualify for the educational discount, a quick search on a shopping search engine like Pricewatch.com shows the cheapest price today is $205 for a non-academic full version (not an upgrade version).

        If you have not already installed your scanner and scanner software, I would recommend doing the installation in this order: any applications first (Word, Excel, etc), then Adobe Acrobat, then lastly the scanner and it's bundled software (for example, my HP scanner came with the HP Precision Scan software). Why install in this order? When you install Acrobat, it will automatically add the components Distiller and PDFwriter to the system so that all authoring applications (Word, Excel, etc) will thereafter have these two new "printers" available via the PRINT command. Then, when you install your new scanner with the software and drivers that come included with it, the install process will detect all the "scanner capable" programs that are already on your computer and add the components that allow these programs to operate with the scanner.

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        • #5
          Paperport file format

          The new paperport version 9 (www.scansoft.com) does allow you to save as an acrobat file, which seems to be the standard.

          My scanner is a canon and included software to save as an acrobat file, fortunately.

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          • #6
            Paper vs. electronic

            Even electronic documents save space, the physical documet allows a quickly review.

            Unless you have a easy .jpg, .bmp, .gif format reader (e.g. AcDSee), is harder open one by one to check which one , is the one you are looking for.

            I use the scan process, when I clean my files anually.

            Regards
            M.-

            Comment


            • #7
              Scanning software and pdf files

              I also use PaperPort and an inexpensive flatbed scanner (Visioneer model 5800 - cost $15 on sale at CompUSA). It is speedy, uses USB port, and dirt cheap. Paperport also features optical character recognition which works quite well, a utility to fill out forms (worth the entire purchase for this feature alone.)

              To create a pdf file from this method or any other, go to http://www.pdf995.com/ and download their free utilities to create pdfs from any application. They display and ad to encourage you to pay only $9.95 for the ad-free version. I don't think they tag on spyware or any other ugly tricks. Seems to work quite well. Might be worth your investigation.

              Also try this web page for a free pdf printing utility (very popular and a good method) - http://www.webxd.com/zipguy/indexbig.htm. Read and follow the instructions carefully and all will go well. If you are squeamish, ask the office "nerd" for help. It's really easy.

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              • #8
                If you have OfficeXP you have Microsoft Office Document Imaging included. Can save as a TIF that most can read if emailed. Easy and fast. Not a lot of features but it works great for filing purposes. Quicker than Paperport.

                Regards

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                • #9
                  FWIW, I've been using Acrobat Pro for years, after discarding PaperPort. Combined with the excellent SleuthHound Pro (under $50), I am able to use the one (latter) interface to search everything, across multiple drives (MS doc, html, pdf, WordPerfect, txt, rtf, etc). I stopped using PaperPort, simply because it was too proprietary, without the universality of pdf. The Acrobat product allows me to easily save web pages of interest, via the bundled special "print" driver, i.e., print to PDF. Accordingly, all online orders are "printed" to tax-deductible related folders, while info items are electronically filed as well. In short, while the full Acrobat product does carry a fairly steep price, it pays for itself in short order, as I no longer maintain paper, nor do I generate it via web site surfing, etc. My monthly review includes scanning all billing statements (Acrobat allows you to easily scan directly into its program for pdf-creation purposes), zine articles I "may" need later, etc. 30 minutes tops, via an auto-doc feeder on my multifunction printer (print, scan, fax, copy, reduce, enlarge). Best of all, once you get the full product, you never pay in excess of $100 for later upgrades. I've been a user since version 3 (version 6 recently hit the streets), and only REALLY began to exploit it when I adopted GTD. Pure e-Heaven, both short **and** long-term!

                  TG50gal
                  ---------
                  A PDA holds confusion at bay.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What does the Acrobat Pro have to offere over the Standard version or FinePrint pdfFactory? In particular, how is the scanning integrated? Do you use another piece of software to scan?

                    Thanks for the input.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Scan time

                      "The most difficult thing is how long my scanner takes to scan a page. It takes some patience, but I feel in the long run it's worth it. "


                      I've been on a tear lately digitizing all of my paper. I have an old Visioneer Paperport Vx sheetfed scanner which has served me well since I bought it in 1996. It scans a page in about 6 seconds (black-and-white, 200dpi). Problem is, it is black-and-white only and Visioneer stopped supporting drivers for it at Win NT 4.0 (no Win 2000/XP drivers, and it uses a serial port to connect to the PC). So, to continue using it I had to install Win 98 on an old PC and use that with the Paperport Vx. In addition, I expect it to give up the ghost any day since I have used it fairly heavily for over 6 years.

                      I had been contemplating buying the updated Strobe 100XP sheetfed scanner as a replacement so that I could scan quickly in color, too (and Visioneer has a trade-in program that gives a 25% discount for trading in an old Visioneer scanner). At $199, though, I had been putting off the purchase. I have a low-end HP color scanner that I had been using for infrequent color scanning, but it is slow as molassis at most scanning tasks.

                      Then, I saw that Best Buy has the Visioneer OneTouch 6600 USB scanner on sale this week for $19.99 (that's the in-store price, no MIR needed to get that $19 price). I picked one up on a lark since it was so cheap, and I must say I am very impressed. It's a flatbed scanner (no frills or ADF connections -- just a basic scanner), so obviously it doesn't "load" as quickly as a sheetfed scanner -- you have to lift the lid to place the sheet on the scanner bed (and it takes up more room on your desk), but it actually scans just as quickly as my old Vx (for basic scanning it scans in one pass, unlike many of the all-purpose scanners that do a pre-scan first). Even scanning 24bit color at 300dpi is much faster than with my HP scanner -- the 6600 will do a full 8.5 x 11 in. color scan at 300dpi in about 15-20 seconds vs the HP 2200C at about 1 minute (or more). Black-and-white at 200dpi (which is good enough for filing and copying) takes about 8-10 seconds.

                      There are a few minor irks, though. The cables (power and USB) are shorter than my HP's cables (maybe a foot or two shorter), so it has to be positioned closer to my PC. It's also kind of noisy when the scanner element finishes scanning and returns to its starting position (I was doing some scanning while I was talking on the phone and the person on the other end kept asking "What's that noise?"). My other scanners can be noisy at times on certain settings, too, but the 6600 is noisy every scan. Nothing major, but something to be aware of. My wife hasn't complained about the noise, so it must not be that bad.

                      If you're looking for a speedy all-purpose scanner at a great price, go to Best Buy and get the OneTouch 6600. OfficeMax also has it for a final price of $19.99, but you have to mail in a rebate. OfficeMax often has good deals on other Visioneer scanners, too (probably close-outs since the newer models are coming out with USB 2.0 and the models on sale are USB 1.1). But for what I need to do, the 6600 is just fine. And for that price, I may pick up a spare or two.

                      For software, I use Paperport 8.0 from ScanSoft (the 6600 comes with Paperport software, but its an older version). They have a new version 9.0 that now uses PDF as its native file format (8.0 and earlier versions use the proprietary .max format), but I had just upgraded to 8.0 about 5 months ago so I'm not up to shelling out another $69 to upgrade to 9.0. I have Adobe Acrobat 5.0, also, so I can just convert the Paperport scanned files to PDF that way. Takes an extra step, but pretty seamless, otherwise.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by swanzyk
                        What does the Acrobat Pro have to offere over the Standard version or FinePrint pdfFactory? In particular, how is the scanning integrated? Do you use another piece of software to scan?

                        Thanks for the input.
                        Acrobat "Pro", at least thru version 5, just distinguishes the full product from the freebie reader-only deal. As regards scanning, that too is handled by Acr.Pro. From the menu bar, you just select IMPORT >> SCAN.

                        Example in action: Let's say I've got several months worth of bank statements, multi-pages all. For that chore, I use my multi-function printer, which has an auto-document feeder. After doing the described AcrPro menu maneuver, I insert the pages, click, and walk away. Handling double-sided statements means repeating process, then one-click to electronically order them and attach, so to speak.

                        On the other hand, lots of physical stores now use that blasted thermal paper for receipts, which the multi-function likes to chew up. I had been wasting time scotch-taping them all to paper, then auto-feeding. Broke down and grabbed a cheapie flat bed scanner ($25 or so from one of the big stores, forget which), which handles those sort of mini- or odd-shaped receipts.

                        So, because that process is easy, and it's also easy to print-to-pdf via the same program (browser-- online purchases), organization is inherently encouraged within the filing scheme I conjured on my hard drive. There's also some OCR easily done via a click-- just enough accuracy to allow searching through all "Account" files when needed.

                        Another big plus for me >>> as I review statements for tax-deductible items, I can apply yellow highlighting to the line, for future reference. Also, I can easily view em later, as the pdf format is so ubiquitous now.



                        TG50gal
                        ---------
                        A PDA holds confusion at bay.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Great PDF scanning tip

                          "Acrobat "Pro", at least thru version 5, just distinguishes the full product from the freebie reader-only deal. As regards scanning, that too is handled by Acr.Pro. From the menu bar, you just select IMPORT >> SCAN. "

                          Great tip. I have Adobe Acrobat 5.0 and never realized you could do this. I have started "printing" everything to a PDF file, but for scanning in documents I was using Paperport 8.0 and then converting the .max file to a PDF. Many times, this produced less than acceptable results (not to mention the extra step -- which on my slower laptop takes forever). Now, I can go straight to native PDF in one step. Thanks!

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                          • #14
                            freeware

                            ppd995 is freeware, and does everything acrobat does, i believe

                            fujitsu scanners are the fastest and comes with best software in my experience

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've found that the best way to get documents into my computer is using a dedicated document scanner. I'm using a Fujitsu Scansnap that comes bundled with the full version of Acrobat Standard (I got 6.0 but it may be up to 7.0 by now). It scans single side or double side in B&W or Color. I was saving my scans to a folder hierarchy but am now giving a tryout to a keyword system that I search using Google desktop search (it now searches pdf's also). At around $400, it's not cheap, but it's definitely lightning fast and effective. However if you seperate the cost of the Acrobat software (around $200), the scanner is actually going for around $200. So, not too bad.

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