6/4/08
10:05 am

MacMost Now 89: NeatReceipts Review

Gary Rosenzweig takes a look at NeatReceipts, a scanner and software that lets you digitize and organize receipts, bills and other documents.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi, This is Gary. Today on MacMost.com, I'm going to take a look at NeatReceipts. It's a scanner and some software that helps you organize your receipts, bills and other documents.
So, for years now, I have been jealous of my friends who've been able to use a program called Neat Receipts. It's this little lightweight scanner and the software that comes with it and allows them to take the receipts, scan them and it saves a copy on their drive so they don't have to keep the paper copies around. It also goes and reads what's on them and records things like the total amount and where the money was spent and all that type of thing, and they can put it in a spreadsheet. It's a really cool way to organize your receipts and save copies of them on your computer digitally so you don't have to worry about losing them and you can organize them better. Let's go take a look on how this Mac version of Neat Receipts works.
So here's what the software looks like. You insert the receipt into the scanner and you press the scan button and it brings it in here, it actually saves a copy of the receipt, a really good copy, that you can actually click on and enlarge and read all the details on, and then it scans that and tries to figure out the dates and the amount spent and even things like the sales tax. And, then it will put it into a list down here and it will export that list in spreadsheet format or however you want to do it. So you end up with not only a database of all the numbers and data, but a database of all the images as well so if you ever need to print out a copy of the receipt, you could do that and basically just throw your old paper receipts away or throw them into a box and not worry about organizing them because you'll have a copy on your computer.
Now, a key part of this is being able to read what's on the receipt, tell you the price, tell you where it's from. So, how well does Neat Receipts do? Well not too well, but it turns out that it really doesn't have to. In my test, it only got about fifty percent of standard receipts right. The rest of them it didn't get the number off of, or maybe it took the wrong number off of the receipt. But, that's okay because I found out you really don't have to go through a process of scanning a single receipt and making sure it's perfect. Instead, just go ahead and scan a bunch of receipts and don't worry about it for a while. You've got these great copies of the images of your receipts on your computer so when you get a minute you can just flip through the images and get a price and if it doesn't look right, you can actually enlarge the image, get the price yourself and it only takes a few seconds to actually correct it. So, I look at it as two steps. The first step is scan everything in and the second step is maybe at the end of the month just go in and check all the data and make sure it's all right. It's still a lot easier than typing it all in manually by going through all these receipts and it's a lot safer because you've got digital copies in your computer.
So being a gadget geek and seeing this, I wanted to see how good of a scanner it was and what I could use it for, so Neat Receipts already has something where you can scan a document rather than a receipt so if you get another important piece of paperwork, you can scan that in as well and have a great digital copy of that on your computer. You can also scan it in as an image if you look in the right place on the software. Now, my test showed that you can't use this as a photo scanning device, I mean it just doesn't scan well enough even though it does scan in color. But, it certainly works great for scanning documents. I always have the problem where somebody sends me something that they want me to sign and fax back to them and instead of going to a fax machine, I'd much rather scan it in and send it to them via email, but I just have a flatbed scanner, but now with this, it's a little bit easier and actually has functionality in the software to tell you to scan a page and actually click a button to add a page to that document so you can basically build these .pdf files using the Neat Receipts Scanner. So, it's a pretty handy device. It won't replace a flatbed or a high quality scanner for a photographer or graphic artist, but it is a handy little device for business people.
So what I like about Neat Receipts is that it definitely is a great way to get all your documents into a digital format. Right now I still have an old fashioned file cabinet because people send me stuff in the mail, or people give me something that I need to sign and print out and all, so I love to be able to take all that stuff, scan it in easily and have some sort of organizer. And, Neat Receipts can do that so moving forward I'm going to be all digital on all my documents.
So a couple other neat things about Neat Receipts. One is that you can use the Optical Character Recognition yourself so here's a document I scanned in that's just a bunch of gibberish and I click on it and I can see the scan and I can also copy and paste it, like so, and put it into another document. So, you've got that as a bonus, plus, if your receipt comes in another format than paper, say you get an email or you're just viewing it in your web browser, one of the cool things you can do is you can print two Neat Receipts. So, you can basically print and the same way you would actually select a .pdf to export to, you would select a Neat Receipts as a receipt or as a document and it would get printed and put into your Neat Receipts folder so you can keep all your receipts together no matter how you get them.
So, the bottom line is, I love Neat Receipts just as much as I thought I would. If you keep receipts, or think you should be keeping your receipts, this is a great way to do it. I love the fact that I can keep it in a digital format and keep them pretty organized. I tend to be much more organized when things are on my computer than when they're in a physical format. So, take a look at the website, NeatReceipts.com. Neat Receipts sells for about $180.00 and all the features and details are listed at the site. Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost now.

Comments: 4 Responses to “MacMost Now 89: NeatReceipts Review”

    Nina
    6/4/08 @ 10:26 am

    Do you think one could do the 7 years of tax returns and supporting docs required by the IRS? What about genealogical documents (not pictures)?

    Is it faster to use than a regular scanner? Or is it the software that’s so good?

    6/4/08 @ 10:35 am

    I think you could — at least it would be better than any other method I could think of. You can scan and save any sort of document, so I suppose it would be useful for genealogical stuff too.
    The scanner is about the same as any other — I’m sure there are expensive ones that are super-fast.

    6/4/08 @ 12:02 pm

    Hi Gary,

    Loved the review. One trick you might not have tried. You may have noticed when you drag-select OCR text from the item inspector, if you click on text itself, you actually grab a chunk of text rather than starting a text selection.

    You can drop this text chunk into any field, including Date and Amount fields (we’ll try to find the right info, if necessary). So if OCR picked up the text, but analysis failed to put it in the right place, you’re one drag/drop away from correction.

    Extra credit: drag multi-size text to the notes field. Note that we actually have simple rich-text formatting applied to the text. Helps keep it looking more like the source text.

    Disclaimer: I’m a NeatReceipts employee and the leader of the happy Mac crew (the one you interviewed at Macworld)

    Daniel
    6/4/08 @ 9:23 pm

    Hi Gary;
    Cool review and thank you for turning me on to NeatReceipts in the first place on your MacWorld review! I really love using it.

    I’m glad you mentioned that even e-mailed receipts or documents can be saved to NeatReceipts just as you would if clicking the print button.

    You can also edit and crop receipts or documents and cut out all the blank areas to save space on your hard drive quickly with the edit tool. I find this very useful with e-mail receipts like from the Apple Store, as most e-mail is just dead space with text in the center.

    MacMost & Gadget Fan!

Comments Closed.