Project Cleanup: I Got Me Some Scan

Project Cleanup: I Got Me Some Scan

Project Cleanup has of necessity been on hold while I’ve been in Las Vegas covering CES. However, before I left town I did make one long-overdue investment that should help me sort out even more stuff and minimise clutter: a scanner.

My previous scanner stopped working sometime around the release of Vista, and clunky operation meant I never used it very much anyway. During my manic sorting, I’ve come across lots of folders labelled “to scan”, and lots of documents that would make more sense in digital form than stashed in my garage. As such, buying a new scanner made sense. I’m perfectly happy with my existing monochrome laser printer, so a standalone USB model seemed like the go.

My criteria were pretty simple: reasonable resolution, a sub-$200 price tag, and the ability to scan a large number of documents at once. That led me to the Canon CanoScan LiDE 200, and one quick big box store transaction later, it was mine.

Canon’s MP Navigator software doesn’t have the greatest interface, but it does have one big advantage: the ability to quickly scan a large number of documents with minimal intervention (effectively after each scan, you just change the document and click Next). So far, I’ve gone through a couple of folders full of assorted memorabilia, clippings and photos, and everything’s worked well. I haven’t yet made the commitment to going fully paperless by scanning finance documents and the like as they come in, but it’s a tempting thought. In the meantime, if anyone’s got any scanner workflow hints, share them in the comments.


  • i have trying to go paperless.

    I was using vuescan with my aging lexmark scanner but found it was very slow which i think was more a product of using a rather old scanner. I did like the software and was under the impression it will work with almost any scanner.

    Does the standard cannon make multipage PDFs easily? things like my bills i would hate to have to have 5 pages for each electricity period all in sep documents.

    The lack of speed and ease of multipage handling was what stopped me on my last attempt.

  • You are one step ahead of me, your criteria matches mine, so thanks for doing the leg work 🙂

    I rather fancy the Fuji Snap Scan but it is too pricey.

    I look forward to some hints as 2010 is the year I finish going paperless (unless required by law etc!)

  • Are you using the scanner in the flat or upright position? I’ve considered getting one that can stand upright a few times, but always wondered how stable they actually were. My desk space is at a premium and I’m a bit of a klutz =\

  • The bundled scanner software is usually not very functional, I found it to be worthwhile investing in a copy of Vuescan (versions for Mac, Linux and Win)
    Also, if you are a Mac user, the Canon scanner drivers are/were truly awful, you will probably be happier with an Epson Scanner (I was!)

  • Agree about the Canon layout issue with their program. One thing to watch out for, since I did a few thousand pages of stuff last year; don’t chuck anything out until you’ve individually checked each scan.

    No scanner has a 100% success rate as I found out. It’s a pain having to dig through a recycle bin afterwards.

  • I’ve been “paperless” for a couple years now. My hints of the top of my head are
    (1) Label/Name your Scans logically, with as much (relevant) information in the filenames. This makes searching SO much easier.
    (2) Scan at 600DPI for “archive” quality and the ability later to print and not be able to tell the original from the the scan. HDD’s are cheap.
    (3) Scan at 600DPI and save to PDF.
    (4) If doc has colours, scan and save in colour.
    (5) Whenever you buy something new, scan the sales receipt, the warranty, the invoice, and also the manual, and any other brochures, instructions, flyers that come with it. Give them all the same file name group ie: BREVILLE BT-02 TOASTER – GOOD GUYS – JULY 2009 0xx
    (6) If you use cloud email, such as Google Apps then email yourself a copy of all this stuff. Setup a filter in your webmail client to automatically tag any email with INVOICE in the subject with a PURCHASES tag.
    (7) As well as another backup of all your stuff, it’s the quickest, easiest way to find stuff later. When did I get that printer… lets ask webmail. Oh look, it was Feb 08, and here’s the warranty and invoice too…
    (8) Win…

  • As a student, buying a Fujitsu ScanSnap was a pretty major purchase for me, but I haven’t regretted it for a second.

    Every single piece of paper I get from uni (handwritten notes, handouts, lecture slides) I now scan into Evernote, it takes a few seconds per piece of paper. If I’m feeling lazy I can just scan all the papers and leave the naming and tagging until later. Most of the paper I find I can throw away since a digital copy is enough.

    This system has made my desk so much tidier, I simply have two drawers for actual paper: One drawer for ‘todo’ things, papers that I need to submit or post, and a drawer with folders for reference documents that I need to keep. Most of these papers I also scan into Evernote and tag with ‘todo’ or ‘filed’ so I know where to find them.

  • I got the same scanner for Christmas, and I have plans to do the same thing (actually, as the scanner is not compatible with Linux I’ll be doing the same thing as Paul).

  • I have gone paperless. I find its much easiest to just scan everything into a folder in chronological order.

    My one tip would be to get a network scanner like a 8890DW, as you can scan to email or ftp direct. taking the pc out of the loop makes scanning 10x faster.

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