How I Went Completely Paperless In Two Days

When you look at the piles of paper you've stored for years, going paperless feels daunting. Not only do you have to scan everything, but you have to catalogue it too. While you can't escape the task itself, a Doxie portable scanner — combined with Evernote — can make the process a whole lot easier.

I put off digitising my papers for over two years until I started using these two tools. After a little setup, I got through all my documents in two days, and now I have no trouble staying on top of all my paperwork. Rather than letting it pile up in a drawer or in my car, I just feed it into Doxie and toss it into the recycling bin. A few times a week, I digitally staple documents together in the included Doxie software, then send them over as PDFs to Evernote. Thanks to Evernote's built-in optical character recognition (OCR), I can then search the full text of any scanned document. Additionally, my digital paper isn't just on my computer but also available through any web browser or smartphone. Normally I wouldn't love the idea of personal information syncing all over the internet, but because Evernote uses SSL I feel comfortable having my semi-private information saved online. All in all, if you want to go paperless effortlessly, securely, and inexpensively, you can do so with Evernote and Doxie. Here's how.

What You'll Need

  • Doxie One or Doxie Go: The Doxie One is the cheaper of the two scanners, but the Doxie Go comes with a battery so you can scan on the go. Personally, I use the Doxie Go so I can more easily scan away from my computer (and watch TV during those big scanning jobs) but either model will do the job just fine.
  • Evernote: You'll use Evernote to store and organise your new digital paper. Download the app and sign up for an account (if you don't have one already).
  • Eye-Fi X2 Card (optional): When you put an Eye-Fi card in Doxie, it will transfer scans over Wi-Fi back to your computer. While it requires a little extra setup, Doxie works much better this way. All you have to do is scan and check your computer moments later to find the file(s).

Set Up Doxie and Start Scanning

Doxie requires a little bit of setup to get started, but it only takes a few minutes. Just follow these steps:

  1. Download the latest version of the Doxie software and install it.
  2. Open the software and connect Doxie to your computer when prompted. If using a Doxie Go, let it fully charge.
  3. Run the calibration card through the scanner as depicted on the Doxie setup instructions.
  4. If using an Eye-Fi card, insert it into your computer and follow Eye-Fi's setup instructions to connect it to your wireless network. Once finished, insert your Eye-Fi card into Doxie's SD card slot.
  5. Choose a piece of paper to use as a test scan. Insert it face up into Doxie and wait for the scanner to grab onto it. In a moment, Doxie will scan the document and it will come out the other side.

That's all you need to do to get started. Just repeat the scanning process for all your documents until you're finished. Because Doxie has an SD card slot and internal memory, you can scan pretty much anywhere regardless of your setup. If using a Doxie One, you'll need to connect it to power with a USB AC adaptor. If you're scanning more than 100 pages, you'll need to do this with Doxie Go as well or the battery will run out before you're done. Either way, I recommend taking it to a room where you can do something else like watch television or have a conversation so you aren't spending many hours scanning paper with nothing else to do. If your job allows, you could even take it to work and scan while handling other tasks as well.

Manage Your Scans

Once you've scanned your first batch (or all your paper), go back to your computer and open the Doxie application. If you're using an Eye-Fi card, you should see your scans already. If not, connect Doxie to your computer and it'll start importing them all. You'll notice your scans have generic names and exist as individual pages, but you can remedy this easily. Wherever you have a multipage document, select the pages in the Doxie app and click the Staple button. This will combine all the pages into a single document. After stapling, click on the combined documents name to enter one of your choice. For single-page documents, just rename them and you're done.

Set Up Evernote And Get Organised

Before you can start sending your scans to Doxie, you need to connect it with Evernote. This is incredibly easy to do and only requires a couple of steps:

  1. Open the Doxie and app go into its Preferences/Settings.
  2. Click on the Local Apps tab.
  3. Click the + button to add an app and choose Evernote.
  4. From the Format drop down menu, choose PDF. (You don't need to choose PDF with OCR because Evernote will handle the OCR for you.)

That's it! You can now send scans as PDFs by clicking on them, clicking the Send button, and choosing Evernote. Doxie will do the rest. Before you send anything over, though, let's create an organisation plan in Evernote.

Create An Organisation Plan In Evernote

Evernote offers several ways to organise your scans (and other notes), but the two most common are tags and notebooks. We're going to focus primarily on notebooks, but we'll talk about how you can use tags to make finding what you want much easier too.

When you open the Evernote app, first create a notebook called "Digital Paper" (or with some other equally generic name) to store every scan that comes from Doxie. When you send your scans over from Doxie, they'll end up in your Evernote Central Stream. This isn't ideal because that's where everything in Evernote goes. That's why you want to have a special notebook ready-to-go for all your scans. Depending on the version of Evernote you're using, you may or may not see your notebooks in the sidebar. If you do, great. If not, find your Digital Paper notebook and drag it into the sidebar to create a shortcut. You'll be adding scans to it frequently, so you want to have it easily accessible.

In addition to a digital paper notebook, you'll want to create a series of sub-notebooks for more detailed organisation. If you're scanning receipts for tax season, create one called "Tax Receipts". If you're scanning old greeting cards, create one called "Greeting Cards I'm Feeling Too Guilty to Throw Out". You get the idea. You don't have to create all your notebooks right now, of course. If you find you need a new one as you go, just add it on the fly.

Once you've set up everything just the way you like it in Evernote, start sending scans over from Doxie and organising them. If you want to get really specific, you can go through each scan in Evernote and tag it. Newer versions of Evernote (5 and up) allow you to add tag shortcuts in the sidebar by dragging a tag to it. If you'd prefer to use tags instead of notebooks, simply tag each scan with whatever criteria you want and view your scans through Evernote's tag pages.

More Stuff You Can Do With Doxie And Evernote

You now know the basics of going paperless with Doxie and Evernote, but there's more you can do if you want. For starters, you'll want to download Evernote's mobile apps so you can access your scans on the go. This is remarkably helpful when you need to look up a document at a moments notice, and especially when you have to send one to someone. Instead of sending, you can also create shared notebooks in Evernote and allow certain people to access specific content. For example, you could share tax receipts easily with your accountant once and simply update the notebook after scanning new ones. You'd only have to send one email about receipts, rather than several, and there wouldn't be any issues with attachments. You could also use shared notebooks to easily share scanned photos with friends and family. If you play around, you'll find many ways to take your scanned paper in new directions and remove the physical clutter from your life for good.

Need a more complex setup? Check out our complete guide to digitising your stuff for additional options.


Comments

    Just wondering how much space you get with Evernote?
    This only seems like a viable, indefinite solution if you get unlimited space.

    I am completely for paperless though! Our business is planning to go paperless at some point in the future but we have A LOT of paper at the moment.

      Rather than giving you a set amount of storage, Evernote lets you upload a certain amount per month. Whatever you upload is then stored forever. I've never gone over the included amount but you might if you try to digitize all your existing paper at once. There are also paid plans for $5 a month that increase the uploads to 1gb per month (I think) and give you some extra features.

      All in all, I think Evernote is great and use it religiously. Like the author I store all my paper electronically in Evernote. To get started I put all my files through the scanner at work. Now when I receive something I want to keep I usually just snap a pic with my smartphone and the evernote app - the quality is good enough for my purposes.

      60MB is the monthly upload allowance, but there's no hard limit on capacity. You can upgrade to 1GB/month for $45/year though, which seems extremely good value.

    I've not quite gone completely paperless, but I'm working on it. Most of my paper is chucked and/or scanned - just have to go through and rename files now -_-, it's a hassle.

    I'm currently using a flatbed scanner, but I'd really like one with a document feeder. Hmm... maybe the Canon MX 376. I just use 300 dpi JPGs, cropped to A4 size. The only thing I'm missing, really, is OCR and I'd rather not use something that sends my stuff online, SSL or not. MS Office used to have this as a feature, not sure if it does anymore :(

      Onenote might be the MS app that you are thinking off, it's a solid app with a lot more features than Evernote (tradeoff being its not as simple to use). Both apps let you store your data locally only if choose though.

        nahh... it was MS Office Document Imaging or something. From way back in Office 2003 - but yeah now that you mention it One Note does have OCR. Can you tell it to scan PDFs though? Would be nice to not have to have everything in a proprietary format.

    You think you are completely paperless? Go check your toilet roll dispenser. Then look for tissue boxes.
    Finally, as a check - try making a warranty claim without the original receipt & warranty card.

      Depends on how the receipt was printed. Anything on that waxy register paper fades after about 12 months. Every large purchase I've made at JB they've recommended I scan the receipt just in case that happens.

      Necro'ing an old comment, but most places will accept a photocopy of a receipt -- simply print out the receipt if you need to make a warranty claim.

      Also, insert joke here about wiping your arse with an iPad.

    Finally, as a check - try making a warranty claim without the original receipt & warranty card

    yep, beaten to it.

    Businesses with field workers struggle to go paperless; because they are not connected to the office systems, they hand write estimates or jot down notes that are re-entered when they return to base. I build Filemaker Go systems that are hosted in the cloud, allowing field workers to never be further from the office than their iPad. see www.eliminatepaperwork.com.au

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