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Old Dec 21, 2012, 07:10 AM   #1
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Best Document Management "Paperless" Organization Software?

I just got an iMac and am looking to transition all my document storage to it. On my windows PC I was just scanning everything and placing it in folders but would like something more sophisticated. I have heard of DevonThink but the interface seems somewhat difficult to me. I am wondering if there are any better options out there I should be considering. Thanks.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 07:31 AM   #2
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First, I think it is worth noting that Finder is pretty awesome if you sit down and check it out. The search capabilities, narrowing down fields, etc; it is all very good. If you really want to unleash the power of Finder, you can really enhance it by downloading something like TotalFinder. Finder itself though is pretty great. Before you buy any product check that out.

Document Management:

You may feel as though Finder is "too raw" for you and a fancy UI really makes your day. I totally get that (and probably feel I am that way too). There are apps out there, as you know. Devon Think is nice. One thing I think it does do is when it is searching documents it will correlate a document to another based on content giving you a connection between documents with like content. That is pretty cool but whether you use it is another story.

iDocument is another app you can use. I'd say it is the competion to Devon Think. Somewhere someone said that iDocument is like iTunes for documents. That may suit you well.

Then there is Mariner Paperless. The whole point is to let your "office" go paperless. May be worth a look.

Finally, there is Together. I am not familiar with that app at all but I remember someone recommending it.

For me it would be about ease of use. Finder may be great for some but I'm also a fan of simple buckets where I can store documents and get them fast. I don't necessarily want to have to run various searches just to see what I have, which is why Finder may not work for you either.

The best thing to do is to download a trial of one, use it. Then download another, use it, etc. If a trial isn't offered then I probably wouldn't bother with the app itself. I just think that the investment into getting what I need on my computer is more important than taking a chance on software that doesn't work the way I had hoped.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 07:54 AM   #3
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DevonThink is good, and a very powerful app.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 08:04 AM   #4
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I use DevonThink Pro Office. Not inexpensive, but very powerful and does exactly what I need as far as making my life paperless.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 08:08 AM   #5
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Agree with the other on DevonThink. But can be pricey. Not exactly a DM, but take a peek at Evernote. It's free, and does a lot now for scanning in documents, etc. Plus you have access on mobile devices, like phones/tablets.

Just a thought.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 08:20 AM   #6
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Check out the iBook Paperless by David Sparks (runs MacSparky blog and MacPowerUsers podcast) - great guide to setting up a paperless workflow. I know David highly recommends the software that comes with the Fuji ScanSnap line of scanners, and also incorporates Hazel into a paperless workflow.

My workflow turns all scanned material into pdf, for which I use Hazel software to automate OCR (w/ PDFPenPro) and filing into a folder system.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 12:37 PM   #7
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Without a doubt, the Fujitsu ScanSnap 1500M is the gold standard of document scanners. If you are going to move to paperless documents... you need a document scanner. A flatbed scanner (even those with document feeders) will leave you so frustrated that you will give up. Search this site for Fujitsu ScanSnap and you will find many threads.

DevonThink Pro Office (DTPO) is IMHO... by far the best document organization database software. It uses artificial intelligence to gain "knowledge" about your database. The more you use it... the smarter it gets.

My most basic workflow is as follows:
  • Paper comes into the house (ex mail) and goes one of three places (recycle bin, shredder, "to be scanned" tray)
  • Every few days, I'll scan everything waiting to be scanned... then immediately shred. Everything is converted to a searchable PDF as it is scanned (using OCR)... and immediately put into DTPO's inbox folder.
  • Every month or so... I'll open DTPO and file/organize.

This last step is one area where DTPO is amazing. I'll open the inbox, select a document... and DTPO opens a side bar with stack of "relevance bars" suggesting exactly where it should be filed. Side by side you see the document and the places DTPO thinks it should go. The first (top) choice is almost always correct. One click later, it is filed and you are looking at the next document in your inbox.

Many people do not even bother manually filing... they just turn on "auto classification" and it automatically files when you import or scan a document into DTPO. I have not done this yet. It is so easy to manually file using the Artificial Intelligence of DTPO that I just do it manually. I also get a kick out of seeing how well it does suggesting where it should be filed. The search capability inside of DTPO is so powerful that there is no reason you ever really have to file (or keyword) anything if you do not want. You can just leave it one big disorganized mess. DTPO knows the content of all your documents and when you search... it adds relevance bars to the results. Even though I do "file" things away... I typically just search and get to my data faster than looking through my filing structure.

This is the tip of the iceburg of what DTPO can do.

If you really want to move to a paperless world... I recommend the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M and DTPO. They are not cheap ($170 for DTPO, $400 ScanSnap) but they are unequaled.

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Old Dec 21, 2012, 02:22 PM   #8
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Give a thought or two to organization before you go out and commit to software.

For example, does your organization have to be cross-platform? You said you started on a PC. At least with using directories you could probably preserve those as you move over to the Finder. Tags? Probably not so much.

Are these things OCRed? If so, then they're searchable, which might change what you need. And does one document need to have several relationships? like client name, name of document, author, etc? Tagging makes that much easier than deciding what folder to put it in, or making duplicates.

For the most comprehensive structure, go database. A folder structure is kinda like that, but you would probably be more happy with something like DevonThink, which is a database in essence. If you use tags and PDFs, look at Yep; or if tags and more than PDFs, Leap.
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Old Dec 23, 2012, 06:36 PM   #9
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Seems like maybe I have to give Devonthink another chance since everyone so highly recommends it. It seemed somewhat confusing to me when I first tried it. I have a scanner and just want to input everything for easy access. Then I also use an online backup to back up all my data.
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Old Dec 24, 2012, 02:37 AM   #10
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DT does have a bit of a learning curve, but it's well worth investing the time and effort. You might find that this e-book is worth getting

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Old Mar 7, 2013, 07:03 PM   #11
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Do try DevonThink Pro.. I bought the ProOffice version recently because I've got a TON of PDF files and it took a while to get them OCR'd and I've toyed around with the classification engine to try to figure out where new documents should reside.. It's pretty cool and a nice feature. My DTPO database is close to 30Gb in size and I realize that IF I ever needed to ditch DTPO that the original files are residing within the database and can be pulled out if need be in their original state (e.g. pdf files).. I've also got a Fujitsu Scansnap S1300 scanner that I bought used off Craigslist for $100 -- worth every penny but I'd opt for the S1500 next time as this one is a bit slow..
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