Take Control of Your Physical File Cabinet and Go Digital Using Your Mac!

I actually have a very big submitting cabinet and I hate submitting. Every day, I’m inundated with new mail, junk mail, payments, scientific statistics, brochures, manuals, faculty work, investments. You name it. These papers end up stacked in piles on top of my submitting cabinet. I constantly tell myself, “Tomorrow, I’ll deal with this.” You know how that is going. Tomorrow by no means comes.

Being a techy geek, I decided to peer if I should just keep all of my files on my Mac. Hard pressure space is so ridiculously reasonably-priced that it has the ability to clearly exchange the way I cope with my paper tsunami.

I attempted a number of feasible solutions. Rather than bore you with my trial and error, I’m going to give you what I came up with. Feel unfastened to evolve what I’m showing you here to suit your very own needs.

To begin, you need a Mac. Well, you do not really want a Mac but this guide is all about doing this with a Mac. If you’ve got a PC, sorry, you need to look someplace else.

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Getting Paper into Mac

Good, so that you passed the primary take a look at. You have a Mac. Now, you need to get the paper into your Mac. There are a couple of ways you can do that.

Smartphone

I started out experimenting with my digital filing cabinet by way of using my iPhone. I might take a picture of a document and save it on my Mac. If you’re simply gambling round and have already got an iPhone you could do everything I’m going to expose you. The only disadvantage is scanning speed and pleasant.

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All in one printer / Flatbed Scanner

There is a boat load of all in one scanner on the market. They will usually do one sheet at a time on a flatbed scanner. The slightly more high-end ones will do double sided sheets and feature a record feeder. I use a Canon printer (TK) that works quite properly and does a fairly appropriate task of scanning files. Again, the most important disadvantage to this is velocity.

A Full On Document Scanner

This is the Mac-daddy in case you are going to go paperless. These scanners are designed to cut through stacks of documents like butter. There are some in the marketplace. I’ve personally looked at the Neat Scanner and the Fujitsu Scanner. Both of these will rock your global. They can scan as much as TK pages in line with 2d.

For my digital submitting cupboard, I use the Neat Scanner.

Software

For the simplest setup, you do not need to invest loads in a software program. If you go together with both of the scanners I mentioned above, they come with software for purchasing paper into your Mac. In addition to that software program, for filing, you want a few greater things.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a marvel. If you don’t have it installed but for your Mac, you are simply lacking out. Dropbox creates a folder on your Mac. When you use your Dropbox folder your documents magically seem on any other tool that you have connected to your Dropbox account. It’s an exquisite way to percentage files among Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

Other Optional Software

This software isn’t always essential however it’s going to make your lifestyles a bit simpler. I’ll come up with a brief description of each here. Later, whilst we speak approximately the workflow we are able to dig into how to use each one.

Hazel

Think of Hazel as your assistant. Hazel watch folders and take moves on documents primarily based on rules. I use it to observe for documents with unique documents names and mechanically file them into the perfect places in my virtual filing cabinet.

TextExpander

Text Expander is a software so one can let you create keyboard shortcuts to duplicate repetitive tasks. For example, in case you locate yourself typing your deal with plenty, create a Text Expander snippet like and then, whenever you kind add, Text Expander will replace it together with your complete address.

Goodreader

If you’ve got an iPad, Goodreader is an outstanding utility to view all of the PDF files you may be developing and storing into your Digital Filing Cabinet. It’s one of those Swiss Navy Knife iPad apps that I literally use ordinarily.

Prep-paintings

Before we start digital filing, let’s get our gadget mounted. If you haven’t achieved so already, deploy Dropbox and create a Dropbox account.

Create a folder known as “1 Scans” on your Dropbox folder. This will act as your Inbox. I use the no 1 inside the title so that it constantly appears at the top of my sorted list. This is particularly beneficial whilst you are the usage of this to your iPad and iPhone.
Create a “Records” folder in Dropbox. This is your submitting cabinet. Once this folder is created, prepare it any way you want. Here is the structure that I use.
Records
Personal
File Folder (i.E., scientific)
Feel loose to apply something shape you suspect works first-rate for you. Don’t cross too loopy with nested organized folders though. Why? Well, take into account this is a virtual system. You can use Spotlight to search for any record you want.

If you are using the Neat or Fujitsu scanners the software program comes with optical individual recognition software program (OCR.) This software program will convert the scanned photo into real text this is indexed through the system. So, instead of worry about in which your final cell phone bill is, hearth up Spotlight and type 2013 April Verizon and your invoice will magically seem.

Naming Conventions

I heard Merlin Mann communicate on a podcast some years ago approximately how he organizes his files. Until I heard him, I lived in a world wherein all my documents lived in neat folders within sub folders. The trouble became, I may want to by no means discover anything.

His idea becomes to put the entirety into as few folders as feasible. He becomes talking especially approximately text and Word documents. I’m extending here to this machine.

I name all of my files in the following way.

Date – Description

That’s it, quite easy. Now I do every now and then smash it down further.

Year – Month – cellular telephone invoice

Or if it’s miles a receipt

Year – Month – Day – bed bath past juicer receipt

The factor is, I give every file a date stamp and a terrific enough description that I can find it later. These documents then pass into a limited set of folders so I can easily retrieve them later.

If I’m ever seeking out a document, I can use Spotlight to look for it. I can also get smart and create a Custom seek within the Finder that continually seems for documents with a given call.

TextExpander

TextExpander can make this manner even simpler. Thanks again to Merlin Mann and Dave Sparks for the suggestion.

With TextExpander I define templates for the files that I create often. Then, I handiest want to kind the TextExpander keyword to robotically create regular filenames. This makes searching and retrieving the statistics later even easier.

Using my mobile telephone invoice as an example. The bill comes every month so I can create a TextExpander snippet (template) as follows.

YEAR – MONTH – mobile phone bill

I assign this the keystroke.Cellbill then after I type.Cell bill it expands to 2013-04 cell phone invoice saving me the problem of remembering a steady name and also typing it in.

Down to Brass Tacks

OK, so now with all of this software set up and configured, how do you operate it? The simple workflow looks as if this.

Scan a file or documents into PDF Files.
Give the files a constant, descriptive name. Use TextExpander snippets for repetitive names otherwise manually call the report.
Store those files in a single “Inbox” folder
Periodically take those files from the “In container” and file them into the proper hierarchy.
This can show up both manually by copying and pasting into the one’s folders or by using the use of Hazel policies.
Hazel Rules

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Remember earlier than once I said that Hazel changed into like your non-public assistant? Well, with Hazel, you could have it reveal your “Inbox.” Whenever it sees a file named cellular telephone invoice it could circulate it to your “Records” folder.

Wrap Up

We’ve simplest scratched the provider with approaches you may eliminate paper and go virtual. There is more you can do with AppleScripting and your iPad to be able to blow your mind. I’ll keep that for later.

For now, strive some of this out even in case you just get began with Dropbox and an iPhone.