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Dropbox Cuts Pricing And Adds Great Sharing Features

Dropbox Password ProtectEver since Google Drive slashed their prices and Apple announced the upcoming iCloud Drive, it was pretty clear to me that Dropbox was going to need to adjust their pricing. The tiered model had become much more expensive than competitors.

Today Dropbox announced their pricing changes, but they didn’t stop there – they announced some much-appreciated new features around sharing documents.

Pricing

Dropbox Pro is still $10 a month ($99 annually), but for that $10 users now get 1 Terabyte of space.

New Sharing Features

Dropbox outlines their new features in their blog post, but the key changes are:

  • Password protection: You can now assign a password for a shared link. This is great! You’ve always been able to generate a link to a file or folder, but theoretically anyone who came across that link (however unlikely that may be) would be able to see your information. Now you can password protect that link. More on that here.
  • Expire shared links: Another great feature when it comes to going paperless. Often when we share a link to a file, the recipient only needs access for a short period. You’ve always been able to review and remove those shared files, but now you can set the link to expire automatically. Here is how it works.
  • Folder Premissions: One of the problems with sharing a file with someone via a file syncing service like Dropbox is that if the person deletes or modifies the file, it is deleted or modified for you too. You mark a recipient as read only so they can see a folder but can’t mess it up. More on that here.

Great update by Dropbox and I for one am happy with 10 times the space.

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A Helpful Guide To Evernote Account Limits

Evernote Smart Is BeautifulA good thing about Evernote is that there is a huge amount of information out there about it.

A bad thing about Evernote is the information is spread all over the place, which can make for a lot of searching around if you want to find something.

A page I refer to all the time has been put together by Christopher Mayo, an associate professor at Kōgakkan University in Japan (and an extremely helpful member of the Evernote forums).

Christopher has compiled together all the limits that exist for pretty much every area of Evernote on almost every platform in his monster list: What Limits Exist for an Evernote Account?.

Below are some of the limits that I know about for Evernote accounts. For limits that I am only guessing about, and have not seen in writing, there are no links.

If you want to know what the differences between the Free account, the Premium account, and the Business account are, Christopher’s list is the place to look for Evernote account limits.

Every time I visit his site, I learn something new. For example – I had no idea there was a 100,000 limit on tags. Good to know. The way some people tag things they’d better watch out.

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Dispatch Mail App Adds Great PDF Export Feature

DispatchThere is nothing inherently wrong with the email app built into iOS, but for quickly processing message there are a number of third-party email clients that make it faster and easier.

I had tried most of them, but Mike Vardy tried to talk me into switching to Dispatch. I refused, not because it didn’t look good, but because by that point I had email app fatigue.

He kept it up for months, and finally I caved. Frankly, I am angry that he didn’t try harder. What a great email app.

For me, Dispatch’s strengths come in three main areas:

  1. The ability to quickly rip through a mountain of email.
  2. The ability to quickly do something with each of those emails and, when needed, send them somewhere for further action.
  3. TextExpander integration and snippets to quickly write and respond to emails.

In this post I am only going to talk about the second of those because they just released a new update that makes Dispatch even better for going paperless.

The Triage Button

When you are viewing an email, there is a button at the bottom of the screen called the Triage button (at least, that’s what I call it).

When you tap it, it opens up a pane that lets you send the email or information selected in the email to another app.

Dispatch Triage

That is my screen, but you can add many more apps. There is a list on the Dispatch site.

I find it really helpful to quickly send an email into my task manager (OmniFocus in my case) or to Evernote if I want to save it there.

Export To PDF

Dispatch 2.1 added a new feature that takes the app from awesome to nearly perfect – the ability to export an email to PDF. This is massive for dealing with emailed receipts and similar messages that start as an email but you want to end up as a document.

In the past, I would always leave these messages in my inbox to deal with later on my computer[1]. Now I can be done with them from wherever I am.

In the triage menu that you see in the screenshot above there is now an Export as PDF button.

When you tap that, it displays your email as (surprise!) a PDF.

Dispatch PDF

From there, you can hit the Share button and send the newly created and searchable PDF to wherever you’d like. For me, that is usually Dropbox.

Dispatch Open In Menu

I absolutely love this new feature of Dispatch. The app is $4.99 on iTunes.

If you have another great email-to-PDF workflow on iOS, or if you have something else awesome you do with Dispatch, let us know in the comments.


  1. I know there are services and apps that let you copy and paste and create a PDF, but I find them more trouble than they’re worth and usually end up not bothering.  ↩

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Integrate Adobe Acrobat With An Image Editor

Adobe Acrobat XIDid you know that it is possible to use an image editor like Photoshop from within Adobe Acrobat to clean up a PDF?

I didn’t either, but thanks to this post on the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog by Rick Borstein, now I do: How to Erase and Clean-up a Scanned PDF in Acrobat XI.

There are two ways you can clean up content in a PDF:

  1. Use the Redaction tools (Acrobat Pro only) and redact using the “No Color” option.
  2. Use the Edit Image option and an external editor to clean up the PDF
    I’ve never written about the second option previously, so this seems like a good opportunity to do so!

I had no idea you could integrate Acrobat with an image editor. Cool tip.

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The Paperless Conference

Chris Anderson at LeWebBetween session handouts, itineraries, and notes, how the heck do you go paperless at a conference?

In most events, there is paper coming at you from all directions.

Julie Bestry from Best Results Organizing did a great blog post about her experience at a recent conference that I spoke at in Phoenix: NAPO2014: Taking Notes–The Paperless Experiment.

The plan was to try something I’d never done before, to go paperless for an entire NAPO conference. To do that, I’d have to:

  • Take notes digitally
  • Print nothing
  • Figure out how to integrate different input sources of information

Julie’s post made me think about how my approach to attending conferences as paperlessly as possible has changed over the years.

Conference Itineraries

This one depends on the conference, of course.

Many events provide the itinerary online ahead of time. When that happens, I like to store it in Evernote so that I always have it available on all my devices.

The best event I have ever seen for this is the National Association of Professional Organizers annual conference, which Julie and I both attend. They provide an iOS and Android app that allows you to build your schedule. I referred to the app constantly.

Speaker Handouts and Slides

Here is a possibly controversial opinion – if I need the slides from a presentation, the talk was probably not constructed very well.[1]

This is why when speaking, unless I have a gun to my head, I prefer not to submit my slides ahead of time to be printed in the Conference Binder Of Paper Hell.

Again this is just me, but I don’t follow along with The Slides when I am listening to a talk. I prefer to see what the speaker has to say and be surprised.

For speaker handouts and The Slides, sometimes the conference will provide them in PDF format for downloading before or after the event, and sometimes the speaker will provide a resource page that they can be downloaded from.

Often there is nothing you can do and things are on paper. That’s fine – I just capture them with my phone’s scanning app and off to Evernote they go. The paper never makes it home with me.

Note taking

The way I take notes at conferences has evolved, and you can see that evolution on the DocumentSnap blog.

I used paper notebooks for a while and captured them with my phone. Then I got a bit more advanced and used the ScanSnap SV600 to capture them.

I did a conference writing notes on my iPad with Notability, which I was inspired to do by paperless notetaking ninja Tim Grahl.

I’ve also used my Wipebook at an event and that went pretty well.

Now more often than not I type my notes on my iPad using the Logitech Ultrathin keyboard into the Drafts app.

I do this for many of the same reasons that Julie outlines in her post:

  • Because I can type without looking at the screen (but can’t handwrite the same way), I was able to pay attention to each speaker’s non-verbal communication in greater depth.
  • I was certainly able to type faster than I’d ever been able to handwrite my notes, giving me the opportunity to scan and correct errors without missing what the speaker was saying.
  • My notes are far more legible than in past years.

I like being able to type my thoughts while watching the speaker. Since I don’t care about The Slides, flipping back and forth between them isn’t an issue for me.

However I capture the notes, they end up (surprise!) in Evernote.

There Is No Right Way To Do It

There are many benefits to handwriting your notes, which Julie outlines very well in her post. I understand the tradeoff, and the way I do it works for me.

You need to figure out how paperless you want your conference to be for you. The important thing is not how you capture things, but what you do with that information after you leave the closing party.

Do you have any paperless conference tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

.(Photo by Robert Scoble)

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Open Domesday

Domesday Book SomersetSo you’re hanging out in Normandy and decide you want to conquer England. You eventually find out that conquering a country and running it are two different things, and this is what William, Duke of Normandy faced after the Norman conquest in 1066.

You might be thinking “what the heck does this have to do with going paperless?”, but longtime DocumentSnap readers will know that I have a thing for featuring interesting scanning projects.

For a very brief period of my life I was a British History major in University, and in fact my old textbook made a cameo appearance in my ScanSnap SV600 review.

Back to William. It may surprise you to learn that back in the 11th century there was no property assessment database, and if you are going to rule a country it is helpful to know who owes you how much in taxes.

In Christmas 1085, the ruler now known as William the Conqueror gathered his counsellors and they decided to do something crazy – they sent men all over England and Wales to find out how much each landowner owned and how much it was worth.

By 1086–1087 this work was compiled into a manuscript called the Domesday Book. I recently came across a project called Open Domesday which has a free online copy.

Domesday Yorkshire

By the way, according to Wikipedia (which is never wrong), the reason it is called the Domesday Book is because its information is like the Last Judgement – unalterable. Sounds like things haven’t changed much.

The cool thing about Open Domesday is that they’ve merged it with Google Maps data. You can enter in the name of a place in England or a postal code, and it will show you all the Domesday data.

For example, I entered BA1 1LZ in the search box, which is the postal code for the Pump Room Restaurant in Bath.

Open Domesday shows all the Domesday places within 5 km. If I drill down to Bath, I can see that there were 154 households surveyed, and the property had a value of £66.1 in 1066 and 1086 (so much for buy and hold investing). Before William took it over, the land was owned by Queen Edith of Wessex, who was the richest woman in England at the time.

If you click on the image, you can see the page from the Domesday book itself.

Again according to Wikipedia, “No survey approaching the scope and extent of Domesday Book was attempted until the 1873 Return of Owners of Land…”.

What is all this useful for? For you, possibly nothing, but it is cool that it is being preserved and used in new ways.

Do you have any other cool scanning projects? Please leave them in the comments.

(Photo by Professor John Palmer and George Slater)

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Presentations by David Sparks

MacSparkyThis is a slight departure from the normal DocumentSnap paperless subject, but it is a topic that I’m passionate about so I hope you will indulge me.

Plus, there is a giveaway at the end of this post!

Over the past few years, doing presentations at conferences, meetings, and webinars has become a larger and larger part of what I do.

The more of these events that I attend, the more terrible presentations I witness. I don’t think anyone intentionally gives a bad talk – I think people just don’t think about it.

They fire up Powerpoint, type out their bullets, and when the time comes they get up there and read their brilliant words off the projector.

On the flip side, sometimes we attend a talk and it is amazing. The speaker is engaging, the visuals are perfect, and the whole thing is just seamless. We think to ourselves “wow, that person is such a good speaker” as if they were born that way.

The fact is, giving a presentation of any kind is a craft, and it is something that can be learned by anyone.

The Presentations Field Guide

I have had the pleasure of viewing a number of talks by David Sparks at Macworld. Some of you may be familiar with David’s work at MacSparky or Mac Power Users, but he also has a series of Field Guides that he publishes. I’ve written about his Paperless Guide and Email Guide before.

The newest Field Guide is called Presentations and it is another winner. I was provided with a review copy, but I also went out and bought it.

It isn’t just a technical guide on giving good presentations, but talks about:

  • What is wrong with most of the presentations we are forced to sit through.
  • How to use story to make your presentation something that people actually care about.
  • How to master Keynote, Apple’s presentation software.
  • How to get ready for presentation day and what to do once it arrives.

While it does touch on Powerpoint and some other software packages, it mainly focuses on Keynote.

If you are a Windows user and/or don’t use Keynote I think the book is still worth it, but that is something to be aware of.

I am a Keynote user, but I am more of a hack. I do what I need to do to put my slides together, but more often than not I don’t really know what I’m doing. The Keynote chapter has been great for me.

Like all of David’s other Field Guides, Presentations is best viewed on an iPad using iBooks. Calling it a “book” doesn’t really do it justice as it is packed with screencasts, images, and other interactive elements.

If you don’t have an iPad, you can buy it in PDF format and still have access to all of the videos and other materials.

As you can tell, I’m a big fan of the Presentations Field Guide, and if you give presentations of any kind, it is worth the $9.99. It is available in the iBooks store or directly from David’s site if you want the PDF version.

Presentations Giveaway

David hooked me up with five copies of Presentations for iBooks. You’ll need an iPad or Mac with the iBooks app to view them.

Here is how it will work: Leave a comment below telling us about an awesome presentation you’ve seen either live or online.

Make sure you put a working email address in the email field (don’t worry – only I will be able to see it) and I will provide the first five entries with a free copy of the iBooks version of Presentations. Good luck!

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Is There A Benefit To Tech Automation?

Kennedy-Mighell ReportThere is a very good chance that if you are reading about productivity on the Internet, the author (including yours truly) is promoting the benefits of automation.

Speaking for myself, I am all for automating as much as possible. Whether it is using something like TextExpander, Hazel, File Juggler, or iOS keyboard shortcuts, I am always looking for ways to have my computer do the work for me.

I was recently listening to a podcast by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell called the Kennedy-Mighell Report, and the episode was The Benefits of Tech Automation: Why Attorneys Should Opt In.

Even though the podcast is on the Legal Talk Network, I don’t think this episode is necessarily exclusive to lawayers.

When I started listening, I expected the usual automation rah-rah, but to my surprise it turned into an interesting discussion of automation tools and whether it is even worth automating many of the tasks we productivity nerds take for granted.

Whether you agree or disagree, sometimes it is helpful to check your own biases. The episode is embedded below, or you can visit their page for more.

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Evernote Post-It Notes – Crazy Like A Fox?

Evernote Post-It NotesI have to admit that when Evernote announced their partnership with 3M and released Evernote-branded Post-It notes, I thought it was more than a little goofy.

Post-It notes? Really? I am not a sticky note person myself, but I know many people are. What is so wrong with normal Post-It notes that there needs to be a special Evernote version?

I was happily living my life ignoring these products, until I attended a few conferences and talked to people who use them all the time and they all seemed to really like them.

I decided it is time to try them out for myself, so I ordered a pack on Amazon (they are a bit cheaper there). I decided to buy the 4-pack because it comes with three months of Evernote Premium.

I also decided to test it with non-Evernote sticky notes. More on that below.

Evernote Post-It Notes

Why Are These Post-It Notes Evernote-y?

As far as the products themselves go, there is nothing too different about them. You use them like you would any sticky note (I assume you know how to do that).

The key is the four colors that the notes come in. You might call them blue, pink, green, and yellow, but you would be wrong. In fact, they are “Electric Blue”, “Neon Pink”, “Limeade”, and “Electric Yellow”.

The magic happens in the Evernote mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. They have a special Post-It camera mode that is specially designed to recognize Post-It notes.

You use the Evernote app, put it in Post-It mode, and take the picture.

Evernote Post-It Camera

The Evernote app will recognize the sticky note, clean up the image, and create a nice looking note in Evernote for you.

Evernote Post-It Yellow Note

Post-It Automation

That’s interesting and all, but many apps will auto-detect the edges of a document and clean up the image. Big deal.

This is where the special Evernote Post-It colors come in. Buried in the settings of the Evernote mobile app[1], you can have Evernote take actions based on the color of the Post-It.

Evernote Post-It Note Rules

For each color, you can have the note automatically go to a certain notebook, add a certain tag, and/or create a reminder.

Evernote Post-It Automation Rule

For example, in this screenshot I had all four colors set to go to a Sketches notebook, and for Limeade (aka “green”) notes I asked it to tag it with Project4.

Evernote Post-It Notes Tagged

Capture Quality

Whenever I have seen the Evernote Post-It Notes online, the examples have always been written/drawn with big chunky black marker.

I decided to try it with a blue ball-point on an “Electric Blue” Post-It.

Evernote Post-It Blue Ballpoint

It turned out surprisingly well. If the text looks a little sketchy, that is due to my pen running low on ink and not due to Evernote’s app.

What About Normal Sticky Notes?

I know what you are thinking – do you need to use special Evernote-branded Post-Its?

I wondered that too, so I gave it a try.

First I tried a “normal” yellow sticky note. No electricity here.

Evernote Normal Yellow Sticky

The Post-It camera did crop and clean up the image, but even though it is yellow, apparently the yellow is not “Electric” enough. It didn’t move it to the Sketches notebook and it did not tag it.

I was at the dollar store and noticed this pack of off-brand sticky notes that look suspiciously like Electric Yellow and Neon Pink.

evernote-postits-dollar-store

 

Would the Evernote Post-It camera recognize a $1.29 CAD 2-pack? Let’s find out.

Evernote Sticky Yellow
Evernote Sticky Pink

Amazingly, the Evernote app on iOS does see these dollar store sticky notes as Electric Yellow and Neon Pink and files them away. Wow!

I Am Almost A Believer

As I said earlier, I am not really a “post-it note guy”. I mostly make notes digitally or in my Wipebook.

I still think the idea of Evernote-branded Post-Its is a little goofy, but I have to admit that the execution is excellent.

If you are someone who uses sticky notes and you are an Evernote user, it may be worth giving it a try (again, it is cheaper on Amazon). The free Evernote Premium months make it almost worth it if you don’t stumble across a dollar store find like I did.


  1. On iOS, at the time of writing tap on the gear icon near the top, go to General, then Camera, then Post-It Notes.  ↩
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Fujitsu ScanSnap: Stop Progress Window Popping Up On The Mac

ScanSnap in a MeetingAfter you press the Scan button on a Fujitsu ScanSnap, a progress window pops up showing you what the scanner is doing.

If you, for whatever reason, don’t want that to happen, you can turn that progress window off on the Mac.

Over on the ScanSnap Community, they have a helpful tutorial for toggling this behavior:

How to Do Background Scanning on a Mac.

Although active windows are great to show the scanning progress sometimes they can get in the way of your work flow. There is a quick and easy way to deactivate the pop-ups on your Mac just by changing a couple of settings.

I think I still like to see what is going on, but that’s a great little hidden setting if you want to keep things a bit more quiet.

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