How did you go paperless?

This isn’t so much a question about DEVONthink the product as it is a question about how you did/would use it to go paperless.

I have a ScanSnap S510M and a pile of papers. I’m wanting to go as close to paperless as I can get.

What strategy would you recommend? Sorting the papers by type, and scanning each kind into their own DB? or having one DB and scanning them all in and sorting after the fact?

I’m open to any suggestions or advice you folks might have.


Aaron Kulbe

Start simply; scan everything; and grow into a practice that makes sense for you and for you data.

Preferably doing a bit of searching for previously asked/answered questions before asking.

A person comes to this corporately-sponsored forum to express interest in the product. Others attempt to help out, with an open hand. This forum should be a place where dialog and open discussion of DEVON products is encouraged. Where new users are not intimidated, and where no one derides them for merely asking how to use the product. For a corporate forum - or any place for that matter - it is strange that those who earnestly want to discuss DEVONThink and the other products, and want to offer their time gratis to encourage others to enjoy the product, should be shown the back of the hand.

What particle difference ought it make if a topic was covered before? If the topic is uninteresting or seen before - skip over it.

Going paperless is half the battle, I did that at the office and at home. I would say 90%. BUT this does not solve the problem, it opens other area that needs efforts : how best to categorize, problem with tagging solutions (still waiting for DT to finalize my choice between (Devonthink and Eaglefiler, I hate the fact the folders in EF are not the same in the Finder…How do I access them if DT fails for some reason and I don’t have access to my backup, or I want to migrate them to another application ? Any insights will be helpful , maybe I am missing something). Other considerations, scanning everthing means more work tagging and categorizing and searching ). What tagging strategies , what is the maximum number of tags (since it can get ridiculously long list easily ). Then how do I keep all my databases ? breakthem up once the get too big ? have them all in one hardisk with mirroring , thats not enough you need a backup that doesn’t mirror any errors, so you need a third one ! Afcourse ideally you should have a secondary location for burglary , fire , water etc …urggg !! And then keeping sync between Macbook, iMac and Macmini…(as one GeorgeTown social scientis put it “The evil in any system does not go away , it simply changes shape and form” . Here’s a thought.

I see no harm in suggesting that people search a bit before posting.

Since you’ve removed your list with the item I’d quoted and replied to this subtopic needs no further public discussion.

This is the kind of topic that can usefully be started anew every now and then, regardless of previous discussions on the forum.

It’s a topic that can be interesting especially for new users, and it certainly hasn’t been exhausted.

korm’s advice, basically just to dive in and get started, is often the best kind of encouragement needed by a new user.

To which korm answered:

I’d agree heartily with korm’s advice.

As time goes on I think you’ll find that it’s sometimes difficult to categorize your paper as belonging to only one of several discrete databases, so then you’ll have to figure out a different strategy. For instance, if I go to Home Cheapo and buy some garden tools, some canned food, some oil for my car, some interior furniture… where do I scan that receipt to? My Home & Garden database? My Living database (for food and other such essentials)? My Car & Travel database? My Visa & Mastercard database (since I charged these purchases)?

You might think of ways to do this that I might not have, but here’s my setup:

My method, as you might have guessed, is to create several general databases and add finer-grained folders (groups) within each. Then I replicate different records and copy them to other databases as needed.

And lastly, don’t stop asking questions. Sometimes we forget other threads where some answers have appeared, and having our memories are jogged by a new thread/question helps us recall.

I pretty much went korm’s route, initially just dumping everything into a new database called Scanning.

After a few days of this I began to see some sort of sense in the data and moved it all into my “personal” database where I finally managed to get my groups organised into something that makes sense for me. That’s more about my head than the way DT works. :slight_smile:

Now my strategy is scan into my “personal” data inbox and categorise into groups. Currently I’m not sure that I would do anything with tags in addition to this but we’ll see when they are implemented.

So far I’m very happy with this approach, way more efficient than hunting through stacks of paper.

The beauty of DTPO is that its incredibly flexible and powerful… so you don’t really have to worry too much about making a major error. If you scan the stuff into DTPO, you have 90% of it done. That said, this is what I did and its worked pretty well for me so far.

I started with one database, and set my goal to scan all the stuff that was in my 5 drawer lateral file cabinet. It was easy for me to organize my groups the same way my folders were. For example, I had a hierarchy for Home that included things like utilities, cars, etc… with subgroups on down. I also created a set of groups for my work, and a few other major categories.

I then set to scanning stuff in as fast as I could. Initially, I came up with a naming convention and named the files with date and subject. I’ve since stopped doing that because I scan things in regularly and the search and smart filing is so powerful that the file names are really not that important. Naming was taking a huge amount of time that held up getting things scanned. You may or may not want to do this.

After scanning in several hundred documents, I then started dragging and dropping them into the correct groups. Then I discovered the Classify assistant (looks like a magic hat icon) and my life was changed. This thing is some amazing AI that ranks the groups that you should probably file it into and most of the time is on or close. This speeds up filing tremendously.

Filing is nice to do, but the search is so powerful with OCR’d documents that its almost unnecessary. I still do it, because there are times I like to just go through my stuff on a particular topic.

After about 6 months, I decided to split my Home stuff from Work, and couple of other groups into separate databases because I had thousands of files in there and didn’t like it all being in one basket. The only downside to this is when things are scanned they go into the open database and that isn’t always the right one, but its easy to drag them to the correct database.

Amen to that! I also was caught up in the naming thing until I caught on to the other capabilities of DTPO. With certain projects, though, I still need to rely on names. Perhaps in DTPO version 3 DT will ship a real magic hat that you wear, that picks up your brain waves and names things as you think! I wish!

The rest of your commentary was an interesting read as well. Thanks for posting it.

If you decide not to name your documents, you should check the accuracy of the OCR process just to make sure it’s good enough for your needs. I’ve noticed that OCR has a lot of trouble with dates on some of my receipts, so I continue to name them (for example 2009_10_08BigBoxStore) Honestly though, if I have to get out the magnifying glass to see if that’s a 6 or an 8, it’s no wonder that OCR is having trouble, too.

Good Luck!

I’m also hung up on manual naming convention. I tend to scan documents in batches to searchable PDF. This happens basically when I have some spare time in evenings or weekends. I’ve been using my CanoScan LIDE60 flatbed scanner for the past few years and this has served me well for teh task at hand. However, my new ScanSnap S300M is currently at my local DHL depot waiting to be delivered to my home address, so that will speed things up tremendously for me. The CanoScan done the job, but it was a laborious process for me. The ScanSnap should be great :smiley:

On the subject of scanning, I noticed that once I’ve scanned a document to searchable PDF with the CanoScan and imported it into DTP, if I select the text on the PDF, then paste it into TextEdit, the resulting text is gibberish or basically OneBigWordStrungAllTogetherLikeThisWithMaybeSomeCharacters$#Like&This

Amazingly, DTP search function still manages to find relevant documents when I search for them! I’m wondering if the PDF+Text should be like this, or should the text pasted into TextEdit basically be almost identical to the PDF document? Hopefully the ScanSnap will be more accurate at OCR and improve the search functionality of DTP even more. If so, I too can drop the manual naming convention and just go for the Classify magic hat.

I’m all for saving receipts, but even I have a hard time seeing the value of keeping a receipt that is for motor oil, food and even garden tools. I can see it maybe for the furniture (for insurance purposes)…

Also, many stores and manufacturers have started adding language to their return policy or warranty’s that require the ORIGINAL receipt for returns or warranty service!

In our case we’re trying to eke out as many little things as possible from a the sale of a home that netted us over 1 mil over the purchase price, which gets us out of the capital gains exemption. We intend to live in this house for years to come so keeping track of any and everything helps reduce the “profit” made.

Other things are used to track expense so we can make realistic yearly budgets for our limited income and to keep in case we can squeeze our income tax deductions to the max.

We do keep original documents for big-ticket things like appliances but that’s pretty insignificant when you consider our old vertical files full of minutia and trivia that are now gone.

In the end it boils down to the fact that each one of us DTPO users have our own goals and objectives in using DTPO, with concomitant methods of achieving those goals. Your Mileage May Vary as the saying goes!

If you buy a pack of gum and a magazine at the corner store does that receipt get scanned?

It might seem like a trivial transaction, but what if you get accused of a murder that you did not commit and the time on the receipt could have proved that you were no where near the crime scene!!!
But you didn’t scan the receipt and now you have no alibi…

:laughing: :smiling_imp: :laughing:

Is there an emoticon that shows an epee spearing one in the chest? A “touche”?