Friday, February 8, 2008

Fujitsu ScanSnap - Enter the Paperless World

Oh my! This has got to be one of the best purchases of the year. I really can't say enough about the Fujitsu ScanSnap S510. It's really a fantastic piece of equipment to help you go paperless in your home or office.

Unlike some previous purchases I bought this item for the office in an effort to get some particular types of bills out of the filing cabinets and searchable from the file system. It worked so splendidly well, I bought one for home and have been merrily scanning everything from old portfolio-type papers to insurance papers and receipts and so much more.

Here's how I use this to paperlessly keep track of papers that must be kept, but shouldn't be taking up space.

(1) Find a receipt for a charitable donation (you DO make donations don't you???) - these need to be kept for tax purposes for a couple years, but gee whiz, why in a filing cabinet?
(2) Open up ScanSnap (it is instantly recognized) and put paper in feeder
(3) Press scan button
(4) Wait for a few seconds (18 pages per minute!) while it is scanned
(5) Select from the menu that pops up that you'd like to save it to the ScanSnap Organizer (more on that later)
(6) Move the newly created PDF to the Taxes > 2007 folder (displayed in the organizer)
(7) Close ScanSnap

The hardware and software is dead simple. Plus, it includes some basic software called the ScanSnap Organizer. This is really an interface to a hard drive location with a PDF thumbnail preview. It's simple to use, doesn't have unnecessary bells and whistles and does the job for basic filing needs.

While it saves off the PDF it also places it in a background queue to OCR it and make it searchable. This is really handy because once it is searchable (within a few minutes generally) it can easily be found in Google Desktop. I've found the OCR to be acceptable and it doesn't change the actual look of the document - only the interpretation of the document for searching purposes. That way, even when the OCR is wrong, nothing is lost when viewing the document.

Now anything up to 8.5" wide can be scanned and made searchable on the computer. Then the paper can be thrown out. Nothing is lost except less junk around the house. Use the unit to scan receipts (tag them with a date to delete the PDF for temporary storage), tax statements, cards, letters, tear-outs from a magazine, resumes, business cards, recipes (entire books if you like!), and more.

I highly recommend the Fujitsu ScanSnap to any normal person.

Here's what I like about this piece of equipment:

  • One-touch scan button makes a near-instant PDF
  • Auto-sense color and b&w scans
  • 18-Pages per minute!
  • Removes blank pages
  • PDF OCR in the background so you can quickly scan multiple documents
  • 50-sheet document feeder
  • Folds up for small desktop footprint, but not obnoxious even when not folded up
  • Folding up shuts the unit off and saves scan bulb life
  • USB connectivity
  • Special feeder sheet for feeding business cards and other small document is included
  • Business card manager and viewer is included
  • Mac and PC versions

You can watch a video of the ScanSnap in action at YouTube.

You can purchase the ScanSnap at,, and probably a bunch of other places as well.

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