MacMost Now 43: Neat Receipts

Gary Rosenzweig takes a look at Neat Receipts, a small scanner and software that allows you to organize your accounting.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now. You know, some of my friends actually use PCs, not Macs. And every once in a while there's something really cool that they've got that unfortunately there's no Mac version for. Well one of them is something called, "Neat Receipts". Now what Neat Receipts is is it's a little scanner and a piece of software, and you just take all your receipts, whether it's your lunch receipt from Taco Bell, or a business expense from Office Max. You go ahead and you scan in the receipt, it recognizes some of the characters on it and kind of creates a little accounting file for you. And this is a great way to keep track of all your receipts, especially if you've got a small business or if you just want to keep track of your personal expenses. Well, good news is that NeatReceipts is coming to the Mac. They announced this late last year, and I got a chance to talk with them at the Mac World Expo.
[Cut to footage at Neat Receipts booth at Mac World Expo.]
Gary: Hi this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now. I'm here with Mark from Neat Receipts. Now Neat Receipts is a program and a scanner that have been available for PC users for a while and now they're finally going to be coming to the Mac. So tell us a little bit about Neat Receipts.
Mark: OK. Neat Receipts has been around for about 5 years, and we make a product that a lot of people have seen in airports, because we have a lot of airport kiosks. We are very good at combining the actions of scanning, OCR (Optical Character Recognition), and Analysis, so instead of just scanning your receipts, you actually extract the information out of them and put them into a database. Um, we've been looking at doing--our users have been demanding a Mac version for quite a while, and we've been working since the beginning of the year of producing our first Mac version. It's not a port of the Windows version, it's a ground-up reengineering of the same idea. Our first version will be shipping at the end of March, and will support documents and receipts. A follow on version will add business card support as well and will integrate with the address book. What you're looking at right here is a pre-release build; you can kind of see some of the receipts that we've been scanning in during the day here at Mac World. And, uh, this is the page view: it's the simplest, you can see things in a table-style view. You can edit, it's pretty standard Mac stuff in that sense. We also support a view that's a little bit like iPhoto. You can see all your receipts in little tiles that you can change the size on. You know, so you can see a whole bunch of receipts very small or blow them up to a size where they're almost full size. And then the final thing is because we're a Mac app then of course you have to have cover flow. Our scanner is this device right here. It's purely bus-powered. And we're very excited because this is actually a completely new generation of the scanner. We've been shipping with this for about a couple years now on the Windows side. But we're going to be the first ones, the Mac users are going to be the first ones to see the new hardware in March. The Windows users will have to wait until the Fall till they get the new hardware.
Gary: Excellent!
Mark: And, um, we will, um, let me just do a very quick demo if I can grab a receipt here for a second. It's pretty easy. When we're not running pre-release software you'll be able to just push the button on the scanner to do a scan. Right now I actually have to stick it in and click a toolbar button.
Gary: All right.
Mark: But when I do that the scan...
Gary: Pulls right in
Mark: the receipt is feeding through. And while it's in progress you can actually continue to use the app. You can feed receipts through as quickly as they can go through the machine. All of our processing, the OCR, the analysis, all happens in the background. You can even drop 100 PDFs on our app and it'll sit there and grind through it. It'll take a while but it'll eventually finish. So once it's finished doing the scanning...and sort of down here it tells you what it's doing. Now it's doing OCR, it's attempting to figure out what the text on this receipt is. Then it generates a PDF, which you'll then see there. And then the last thing it does is it looks at that and tries to figure out from the OCR what this receipt is. And you can see from the fields it's extracted right up here that it has figured out that this receipt is a California Pizza receipt, that it was January 14th, it was paid for by Visa, and it's a meal/restaurant receipt. This particular receipt, it was not able to extract the amount. It's never going to be 100%, but we're actually--our aim is to have about 80% accuracy on all fields. My rule of thumb is that for an average receipt you'll get 2 out of 3 of vendor, date, and amount, and in many cases as you can see in some of the receipts that we've been scanning in that people have handed us, we get all of the information all together.
Gary: Yeah this one the total is scribbled at the bottom as sometimes it is in a restaurant.
Mark: We'll never be able to handle--I always tell people it's not easy to OCR thermal receipts. They're poor quality, they get wrinkled, they get folded, the get put in wallets, but we have 5 years' experience of trying to figure out how to get good data out of really poor quality receipts and we're pretty good at it.
Gary: And the basic idea is you can go somewhat more paperless. If you're a business owner like myself..
Mark: We are IRS acceptable. After you've scanned this thing we've created a PDF. If you want the PDF back out--it's stored inside a package but if you want the PDF back out, the easy way is just drag it out to your file system. You can drop that anywhere you can drop a PDF: in a mail message, in a file system, onto a flash disk. Any application that'll accept a PDF can accept one of our items. In addition you will be able to grab an entire collection of receipts, and drop that out, and that's more like an expense report. It'll combine all the PDFs of all the receipts together and put a cover page on that has the table with all the data, the totals, and the like.
Gary: Well, thank you very much.
Mark: You're welcome.
Gary: We'll be looking forward for when this comes out for the Mac.
Mark: Great.
Gary: Thanks.
[In MacMost Now studio.]
Gary: No specific date has been set for the release of Neat Receipts for Mac. But you can go to the website, neatreceipts.com [subtitle: neatreceipts.com/macinfo], and go to the Mac Info page, and there you can sign up for more information. I'm looking forward to getting this in the office and testing it out ourselves. Till next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 3 Responses to “MacMost Now 43: Neat Receipts”

    2/15/08 @ 7:47 am

    You might want to check out my ReceiptWallet product. It has been available as a Mac only product for scanning, managing, and organizing receipts for well over a year.

    –Scott
    http://www.receiptwallet.com

    jim ransom
    12/13/08 @ 2:53 pm

    Need software only for Neat.

    12/13/08 @ 8:42 pm

    jim: Have you looked on their site? Do they offer it?

Comments Closed.