evernote-logoOne of the technologies that has had great promise through the years has been scanning.  But it has always seemed to be the kind of tech that is almost there, but not quite.  The kind that has promise, but doesn’t live up to what it could be.

Maybe that is changing.  A few weeks ago I read two articles in the space of a week  that mentioned scanning and saving PDFs directly to Evernote.

What does this promise to do?  Well, scanning and Evernote make possible not just a paperless office, but a paperless home. I looked into it, but initially thought the only solution was to purchase an expensive scanner that was dedicated solely to Evernote (Canon imageFORMULA P-150 Portable Document Scanner (Scan-tini) is one such device).

But I took a second look, and I am really glad I did.  What I found is that there are many ways to add documents to Evernote (I guess I should note that there are many other uses of Evernote, but the one I am focusing on here is using it as a repository for scanned documents).

Why Evernote for storing scanned documents?  Because Evernote will index your scanned images (I am using PDFs in my example). That one feature takes the trouble out of scanning of files and having to look through them to title or tag your files. Essentially with Evernote you can scan it, upload it, and forget about it–at least until you need it.

There is a caveat:  you must be signed up for their Premium service in order to get the indexing functionality.  But the Premium service is very reasonably priced ($45 per year if paid in advance) and allows you 1 GB of files uploaded per month.

One way you can add documents to Evernote is to email them to your account.  Every account has a unique email address.  Initially I explored some email solutions from my Canon Multi-Purpose device, but found them cumbersome.  But don’t dismiss how easy it is to use email to send documents to Evernote.  This has advantages, not the least of which is the familiarity people have with sending attachments via email.

I did some Google sleuthing and came up with this tutorial at KenClark.me.  It works perfectly (you will need to be using a Mac for this work work; the free scan utility called ScanDrop is a Windows solution).

I first misunderstood the search function in the Mac Evernote client (there are clients for Windows, Mac, as well as virtually every mobile platform), thinking that the searchable index of my Evernote repository would be available on on the client.  But the index is available when I log in to the Evernote website and use the search function.  One thing that I do like about the Evernote client for Mac is the ability to view the PDFs within the saved note.

The result is that now I am able to scan old records in to PDFs (easily done with most modern all-in-ones), upload them to Evernote, and search them when I need them.

UPDATE:  Amazon.com has a fine list of ScanSnap scanners that fit this need nicely.