Having to go through and name each document is one of the less fun aspects of going paperless.
There are tools that can help make this easier, and Breevy, a Windows text expansion application, is one of them.
If you aren’t familiar with text expansion tools, they’re awesome for anywhere on your computer that you need to enter the same bit of text more than once. When it comes to going paperless, they are killer for naming your documents.
If you want to see more about text expansion tools in general, this video on naming paperless documents with TextExpander will show what I mean. The video was made on a Mac, but you will get the idea.
With Breevy, you can create a snippet so that, for example, when naming a Comcast bill you can type ;cm (or whatever you define) and it will automatically be replaced with -Comcast. This comes in really handy for longer file names that you work with on a regular basis.
All this is text expansion 101, but awesome DocumentSnap reader Bob Armstrong from W.W. Smith Insurance wrote in with some of his Breevy snippets that take things to the next level.
What follows are some of Bob’s Breevy tips and some of mine, so you can assume the good ones are his and the bad ones came from me. Even though the screenshots are from Breevy on Windows, the concepts apply to TextExpander on the Mac too.
Insert The Date
You can have a snippet insert today’s date in the filename.
If you know the format you can just type it in, but more likely what you will do is hit the blue triangle to the right of the Replacement Text box and select the date component you want. As you can see, you have a lot of options.
If your document or other file is from the past, you can use date math. For example, this snippet will subtract a month from the current date and use that.
If you’d like, you can even have it subtract a month and prompt you for the day. Handy for end-of-month files.
Use Backspaces and Special Keys
Chances are, your scanner already kicks out a file name with a date, but it probably includes stuff that you don’t need like the time.
Let’s say that my scanner creates a file called 2014_09_08_16_43_13.pdf. Really all I want is the 2014_09_08 part.
This snippet does the following:
- Simulates the End button to go to the end of the file name when in edit mode (F2 in Windows Explorer).
- Simulates hitting the left arrow 4 times to move the cursor before the extension (in this case .pdf).
- Simulates hitting Backspace 9 times to get rid of _16_43_13.
So after hitting F2 and typing in the Breevy abbreviation (in this example, ;dt), I’m left with 2014_09_08. Sounds complicated but once you set it up it is fast and easy.
Once you have your date snippet set up, you can use it from other snippets. Let’s combine that snippet we just created to do the date backspacing with the Comcast snippet we created earlier.
Click on the little triangle to the right of the Replacement Text box and choose Insert / embed another abbreviation. You can then choose the snippet you created earlier.
Building on the example earlier, typing ;cm in the filename will change 2014_09_08_16_43_13.pdf into 2014_09_08-Comcast.pdf.
Experiment and Try Stuff Out
This is level 2 stuff, but once you master using a text expansion tool to replace text (which is a massive time saver on its own), try playing around with some of the advanced functionality in your tool. You’ll supercharge things even more.
Do you have any examples of snippets you use in Breevy or TextExpander to name files? Share them below in the comments.