11/13/219:00 am Productivity Series: Paperless Filing System In this last episode of my productivity series, learn how to switched to a paperless office and how I continue to minimize the amount of paper I receive and generate no new paper myself. Video Transcript: Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Today let's talk about going paperless. MacMost is brought to you thanks to a great group of more than 1000 supporters. Go to MacMost.com/patreon. There you could read more about the Patreon Campaign. Join us and get exclusive content and course discounts. So in this episode of my Productivity Series let's talk about going paperless. About ten years ago I decided to go paperless and try to have absolutely no paper coming into or going out of my office. Now it's almost impossible to achieve absolutely no paper. But I'm getting pretty close. The first thing I did was try to get rid of all the paper I already had. I had a whole filing cabinet filled up ten years worth of paperwork. Every bill, every receipt, every notice I got from a company that all went into a filing system and I kept it by year. So at the end of every year there would be a big box of paper with that year's date on it. To convert that to digital I bought a scanner that would allow me to put a lot of paper into it and it would just scan through all of it. It was a Fujitsu model that is no longer made. As a matter of fact, much to my disappointment, it was made incompatible with Macs several years ago. They refused to update the drivers past 32 bit. So while this is the current model that does that I'm hesitant to recommend that. After all this company kind of stranded all these printers and created a lot of waste by having these out dated printers sitting around. I still have mine in a To Recycle bin. Technically I can use it with some third party software or hook it up to an old Mac. But I got most of my use out of it during my first year that I had it scanning in all the old documents. So look for a scanner like this. The features that you want are the ability to put a stack, maybe 40 or 50 sheets of paper into it at a time. It would scan both sides and do that very quickly and automatically. So if one side of the piece of paper was blank it would include that in the pdf and it would just kind of be a process where you put a document or group of documents into it, you hit the button, and then after a minute you get a pdf on your Mac. I was able to scan thousands of pieces of paper and go through years worth of old paperwork very quickly and digitize them. As a digital file it takes up virtually no space and they are all there on my computer. I can access them really easily from just about anywhere. Now the way I arranged them was this. I tried to keep things very simple and not create a bunch of busy work for myself. I created a folder called Files. You could put that in your Documents folder. I put if down one level in a Business folder. But the File folder has subfolders by year. Of course this is my demo account. My real account actually goes all the way back to 2000. Then in each year there are a bunch of documents in it. I would use the naming technique where I tried to start with a Julian date like 20210215 and then a bunch of words that describe what's in it. When choosing the words I would think of about what I want to search for. I'm looking for an old water bill I'm probably going to search for water. So make sure that name is in there. Now these folders filled up, at first, with about two to three hundred documents each which really isn't that much considering that in most cases I'm never going to need these documents again. In cases that I do looking through documents with names like this, if there are two or three hundred of them, is only going to take me a few seconds to locate what I want. Plus today's software is a little bit better than what they had ten years ago. Most of today's scanning software will actually recognize the words in there and add that to the pdf. So if you search for the content of the document even though they are scanned images, really, you should be able to come up with a result that bring up the words in the pdf. Now the second step was reducing the amount of paper coming into my office. So this as a matter of going through everybody that sent me things in the mail and seeing if they had anything paperless or online only options. In most cases i was able to find that. Simply by switching to online billing, for instance, for most services I was able to avoid actually getting any paper bills. Other companies like health insurance usually have options for only getting documents by email. With some companies you can even email and they'll just have all the online documents that you need when you log into your account and you can download them as a pdf if you want but you're never going to be sent anything by mail unless you request it. So in the early 2000's I probably had a pretty large box of paper coming in every year. But by 2015 or so I was able to reduce that to just a few inches of paper per year. So now that that scanner no longer works for me I actually scan in two ways. One is I have a multi-function printer that actually allows you to feed documents into the top and scan them. So I can do kind of the same thing but it's not as convenient and it's only one-sided. But if somebody does send me ten pages of something I can have that scanned in. Otherwise if it's one or two pages I use my iPhone to scan. Just use the function in the Files App to Scan Document and create a pdf. Since this Files folder is in iCloud Drive I can do it directly from my iPhone right to a file here. Now I don't bother putting it into a folder right away. I usually have new documents just sitting outside of these folders and I let them accumulate for a little awhile and every once in a while I go in and I grab these and I'll drag them into the appropriate year. This way I could just scan or drag something into the Files folder which I keep here under Favorites and worry about putting it into the subfolder later on. The boxes are labeled by year and I could probably toss them or shred them right away but I've got room so I keep them around for the traditional seven years and then I have them shredded. Now the great thing about pdf's like this is that it can also add online receipts. So, for instance, if I pay a bill online and then there's the screen saying you could Print Your Receipt then I print but I Save as PDF and then add it here just like it was something I scanned. Now at the end of every year I bundled up all of the new files into a new box or actually it's getting small enough where I can just bundle them into a folder and I kind of review what I got. Sometimes I notice that there's one thing, one company that is sending me something every month. Then I'll look into how to have that reduced or eliminated. So it's important to kind of keep maintaining things and keep the number of pieces of paper coming in low. It looks like 2021 is definitely going to be a new all-time low for the number of pieces of paper that I had to scan and then put away in a folder. Hopefully I'll be able to get even closer to zero in years to come. Of course it goes without saying that I also don't print anything. I just don't print. I can't even remember the last time I bought paper. It's important to not only stop paper from coming in but from creating any new paper myself. Any document I need to create or send to somebody I do it digitally. If I need to sign something I use the function in Preview where I can sign the digital document or use whatever online system the company wants for signing something digitally so I avoid having to print something, sign it, scan it back in. I just don't use any paper at all. Hope you found this useful. Thanks for watching. Related Subjects: Productivity (57 videos) Related Video Tutorials: Productivity Series: Uses For Notes ― Productivity Series: Uses For Calendar ― Productivity Series: Web Browsers ― Productivity Series: Reminders Lists Comments: 16 Responses to “Productivity Series: Paperless Filing System” Dana Stevens 2 years ago Gary, There is a thread on Tidbits Talk about the ScanSnap software. I imagine you're already aware that there has been 64bit software released that supports some older scanners. Here is a quote from the Tidbits thread in case it is useful to you. "ScanSnap Manager V7 works in macOS 10.12.4 Sierra and later, including Catalina, and the “earlier models” include the S1500, S1500M, and the S1300." Congratulations on your progress to near paperless. Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Dana: My model is the popular one that is before those models. It works with a third-party app, but not as well. Dana Stevens 2 years ago After I sent the first comment I saw the following in the thread. "a TidBITS reader found that ScanSnap Manager V7 worked with his older ScanSnap S300M though it’s not listed as being compatible. So it’s worth giving the new ScanSnap Manager a try even if your older ScanSnap scanner isn’t explicitly included in the compatibility list." Wanted to share that just in case it is useful to someone. Thanks for being there for us Gary. Arie van Boxel 2 years ago Gary, I use a system like yours for a little more than 20 years now. Mine is a little more detailed as I use the folder structure 'year > month > day'. I also tag all my files. For example: Bill, Water, Private. This really speeds up finding something back. Just start typing in the Finder's Search field and you'll be offered the option to search on those tags. I understand this was not an option for you when you started. But for new docs it's the way to go. Thank you Gary. Razvan Mihai 2 years ago Gary: You have a way of coming up with most relevant tutorials. Congrats! I have a company’s digital signature, which I use specifically in relation to state authorities. I wonder how to use the preview function for signing personal docs. Is there a way to ensure your signature or the document you sign is not altered after signing? Thanks. Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Razvan: Not really, the same as if you signed it with a pen, scanned it and sent it. The same as if you signed it and gave them a physical copy. Signing documents like that is imperfect. Razvan Mihai 2 years ago Gary: I see, thanks. It would have been nice if the signature was associated with your apple id and name if you chose to disclose it. Maybe in the future. Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Razvan: What you are talking about is a digital signature. That's very different and wouldn't solve the problem since what people want in these situations is a written signature. Razvan Mihai 2 years ago Gary: Precisely. I imagined the displayed written signature associated with your apple id, which will give more weight to it. But I see your point where it might be a different ball game where apple would take the role of an independent verifier, much like what they do with Apple Pay. Terry 2 years ago Thanks Gary, I didn’t realize I had the scan option in files, thanks. How do you handle all of those pesky little cashier receipts? I don’t want to have one pdf with one 2” x 3” receipt on it. Ideally I’d like to scan it at check out but that’s not always quick enough at the moment. I’ve tried to do this in the past but never been happy with the result. Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Terry: What difference does it make what size the item is? If it is a small receipt, then it will be a small PDF. Personally I rarely worry about cash receipts as I rarely get them. Online purchases have email receipts and/or order histories that I can always search for. I don't care about the receipts at restaurants because I can't "return" the "item." Then most of the time I buy an actual item it is with a card, so I have the receipt there. Path 2 years ago I am going to start digitally saving my receipt as of the first of the year. I keep all receipts, because like Home Depot or Walmart we are always returning items. But I can see laying several on the scan screen, say for the week, then scanning. Thanks for planting the seed of saving digitally. I hate trying to turn around in my office chair, and the drawer is open. nick 2 years ago I find that more and more businesses offer a digital receipt. Banks, some chain stores and others do this, so there's less and less need to scan paper in. Gary: I remember the Fujitsu scanner and it was a great one. Kim Appleberry 2 years ago Like you, I really love my ScanSnap (model S1500M) and was very mad at Fujitsu when they didn't upgrade the software. I delayed updating my operating system so it wouldn't stop working. Once they finally did update the driver for the older machines, I was a happy little scout. But there will always be an asterisk on the name Fujitsu. Ed Adams 2 years ago wouldn’t it make more sense to use apple photos, scan in jpeg (smaller size than pdf) with keywords. Also unless you really go back and look at info from 2000 (12 years ago) I would have started with the last 3 years instead. Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Ed: That would mix your photos with scanned documents. Most people wouldn't want that. Photos aren't usually smaller than PDFs. Often the opposite. Comments Closed.