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Get Your SimpleREV Tickets While They Last

SimpleREVBack in March I posted about a new conference that had just been announced called SimpleREV.

For some weird reason, in the six months since then I have neglected to mention that not only am I now attending, but I’m leading a workshop called Go Paperless: Simplify Your Life, Reduce Clutter, And Find Anything Instantly.

It’ll be the most interactive workshop I’ve done, and should be a lot of fun (for me anyways – if it’s not for you there’s always the hallway conversations).

There’s also a great list of speakers/workshop leaders like Mike Vardy, Joshua Becker, Sheryl & Dave from Simple Life Reboot, Patrick Rhone, and a lot more.

It looks like there are only 11 tickets left, so if you are going to be in the Minneapolis area on October 3–4, it’d be cool to see you.

Click here for more information on SimpleREV tickets.

Hope to see you there!

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Best Practices For Paperless Productivity Webinar

Nitro PDFOne of the best programs for working with PDFs on Windows is Nitro Pro, and they have a pretty great cloud service as well.

I’m happy to announce that on Wednesday, September 17 I will be doing a free webinar with Nitro called Best Practices for Paperless Productivity.

The webinar is not about Nitro specifically, but will focus on how going paperless can help boost your productivity. For more information and to register, click the link below.

Click here to register for the webinar.

Thanks to Nitro for helping me put this on. I hope to see you there.

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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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Macworld/iWorld 2014

Macworld iWorld 2014Well, I have made it home safe and sound from my annual pilgrimage to San Francisco for Macworld/iWorld 2014. It sounds like I just managed to avoid a crazy storm, but between flying out of the Oakland airport for the first time and enjoying a propeller plane ride between Seattle and Vancouver, it all worked out.

I always enjoy my trip to the Macworld show. It is a great opportunity to chat with vendors, fellow technology geeks, and DocumentSnap readers.

There was a lot there, but here were some of the highlights for me personally.

The Booths

I don’t know the numbers, but I felt like the show floor was a bit smaller this year. Some vendors that are usually there weren’t, but that’s OK. There were new ones to take their place.


As usual, the Fujitsu ScanSnap booth was hopping. I tried to keep my harassing them to a minimum because they were always talking to customers.


From what I heard, there was a lot of excitement about the ScanSnap SV600. It sounds like it is doing very well for them.


Speaking of packed booths, the Transporter booth was completely insane every time I walked past. This picture doesn’t do justice to how busy it was.


They were doing a lot of demonstrations of how the Transporter works, and the Transporter Sync in particular was the center of attention. It was my first time seeing one live.

Transporter Sync


I had an interesting chat with the Readdle folks. I am a big fan of their apps like Scanner Pro and PDF Expert.

It is really interesting how they are creating an ecosystem with their apps, so watch out for a future post about that.


I have no idea why, but I haven’t given Backblaze a lot of virtual ink on DocumentSnap over the years. Part of it was my (completely misguided) belief that it was Mac only.

I have no idea why I thought that, but Backblaze is in fact cross-platform with native Mac and Windows clients.


They had their famous storage pods there, and it turns out the guy I was talking to at the booth was the CEO, Gleb Budman. His passion for the product and secure online backup was great to see.

As an aside: this is one reason why I love going to shows like Macworld. You get to talk to the people that run and make the product.


Canon had a booth for their scanners, so I dropped by and annoyed them. I came away very impressed with the imageFORMULA P–208 which is very small but can take 10 sheets (!) and scan double-sided (!!).

They gave me a hard time about writing too much about ScanSnap, and I gave them a hard time about not letting me know about their new products. Hopefully we’ve made up and between the two of us I’ll have more Canon coverage going forward.


I dropped by the NetHero booth for a demo of their product that helps you diagnose, manage, and tune the devices on your network and see where you have network issues.

I have some disaster areas in my house wireless-connection wise, so I am hoping to give NetHero a try to try and fix that. It looks very cool, and is free.

Western Digital

During the show, Western Digital launched the My Passport Pro, a portable RAID storage device that comes in 2TB and 4TB versions. It has a Thunderbolt cable built in, so all you need is a Thunderbolt port and you have completely bus-powered portable RAID storage.

Western Digital My Passport Pro

It looks pretty amazing.


FileThis was at the show demonstrating their service that will help take the annoyance of signing up for paperless billing. Instead of you having to go in and download all your statements, it can grab them for you and save them to your computer or the cloud service of your choice.


I use it to automatically download my Amazon statements and it works really well.


As usual, there were all sorts of sessions on every conceivable topic around using and managing your Mac or iOS devices. I wasn’t able to make it to as many as I would have liked, but here were a few highlights.

Mac Power Users

David Sparks and Katie Floyd from the Mac Power Users podcast (of which I had the pleasure to appear in episiode 172) did a great session running through their favorite tips from throughout the years.

Long time MPU listeners will be familiar with most of them, but I learned a few things, like how to reboot a Mac automatically even with FileVault enabled (nice).

I think they may have finally convinced me to get around to trying OpenDNS.

Brett Terpstra Session

There are few people who have contributed to the technology geek community as much as Brett Terpstra, so I was excited to see he was doing a session of tips.

He didn’t dissapoint, and I learned a lot. Did you know that Emacs text shortcuts were available almost everywhere you type text on a Mac? I did not.

David Sparks Paperless

The final session I attended was by David Sparks on… going paperless.

It was a great session, and he did a live scanning demo. Brave man. For whatever reason I have not yet tried out PDFpen Scan+, but I think David has finally convinced me.

App Camp For Girls

Unfortunately, I had to leave for home on Saturday morning so I was not able to attend the Saturday events.

This made me very sad because my friend Jean MacDonald from App Camp For Girls put on a reportedly amazing session.

I’m extremely sorry I missed it.

The lack of women in the technology industry is an important issue, and it is awesome to see organizations like ACFG addressing that.


I had an excellent time at Macworld/iWorld and am glad I made the trip down to San Francisco. Thanks to the organizers, vendors, and presenters for putting on a great show.

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Your Top Going Paperless Products Of 2013

TrophiesIt can be helpful to see what other people are doing when they go paperless, and part of that is the products that they use.

In 2013, many of you chose to support the DocumentSnap site by making online purchases through some of the links on the site. For example, when you purchase a scanner through Amazon, I receive a small commission.

One nice thing about this is that at the end of the year, I can take a look at which products were the most popular with DocumentSnap readers. I obviously can’t see your purchase, but I can see what has been sold by Amazon and other vendors in an anonymous aggregate format.

As I do every year, here are the most popular going-paperless hardware, books, and DocumentSnap products that were purchased via my links in 2013.

Full disclosure: the links below are also special links, so if you choose to purchase something after clicking one of them, I will get a small commission. If you don’t want to do that, not a problem. Just track the item down manually.

Physical Products

Top 10 Physical Paperless ProductsThe top 10 physical products for 2013 are:

  1. Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500. The ScanSnap desktop model is crazy fast and can scan wirelessly to a computer or mobile device. It was released in 2013, so it is not surprising that it was the winner this year. My iX500 review is here.
  2. Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i. The S1300i is the “personal” model, and is usually the best seller through DocumentSnap. Until the iX500 came out, this was my main scanner model for years. It is small but also has a document feeder and is double-sided. My review of the S1300i is here.
  3. ScanSnap Carrier Sheet 5 Pack. If you have delicate or oddly-shaped documents, these carrier sheets can help protect them.
  4. Scanned Rubber Stamp. People just love these. They’re a big seller every year, and I don’t even link to them.
  5. ScanSnap S1500/S1500M. These desktop ScanSnaps were replaced by the iX500 at the beginning of the year.
  6. ScanSnap SV600. This ScanSnap was also released in 2013. It is an overhead scanner, and scans books and other oddly-shaped objects. It can also automatically separate documents. My ScanSnap SV600 review is here.
  7. Adonit Jot Pro. This is the stylus that I currently use to write/mark up PDFs on my iPad, and apparently many of you use it as well.
  8. Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100. The portable ScanSnap. My review is here.
  9. Doxie Go. Doxie’s scanner that lets you scan without being plugged into a computer. It can even scan wirelessly. My review here.
  10. Fellowes 99Ci. The professional shredder from Fellowes, for home office and small business.


BooksThe top 10 books related to going paperless are:

  1. Evernote Essentials. This is the gold standard for Evernote books. Version 4 was released this year, and my review is here.
  2. Evernote®: The unofficial eBook to capturing everything and getting things done. Daniel Gold’s excellent ebook about using Getting Things Done with Evernote. My review is here. I heard a rumour that a new version is on the way, so stay tuned.
  3. Take Control Of Your Paperless Office. An extremely comprehensive guide to going paperless by Joe Kissell. The Second Edition was released in 2013, and here is my review.
  4. Take Control Of Getting Started With DEVONthink 2. I point people to this guide when they ask me about DEVONthink. Also by the ridiculously prolific Joe Kissell.
  5. Take Control of TextExpander. I use TextExpander all day every day, and this guide will help you become a TextExpander ninja. Also by Michael E. Cohen.

DocumentSnap Products

Top DocumentSnap ProductsMany DocumentSnap readers have found the guides that I publish helpful. Perhaps you will too?

  1. The Unofficial ScanSnap Setup Guide – Mac. How to use the Fujitsu ScanSnap effectively, written in plain English.
  2. The Unofficial ScanSnap Setup Guide – Windows. The Windows version of the popular ScanSnap guide.
  3. Paperless Document Organization Guide – Master. The most popular version of the Paperless Document Organization Guide. Includes all the bonuses and goodies – interviews, videos, and the entire most recent class of the Paperless Action Plan.
  4. Paperless Document Organization Guide – Specialist. The guide, videos, and workflows.
  5. Paperless Document Organization Guide – Practitioner. The basic version of the Paperless Document Organization Guide, if all you want is the PDF.
  6. Go Paperless With Hazel Webinar. I did my first ever live webinar, all about how to use Hazel to go paperless. It was a blast, so expect another webinar soon.
  7. The Unofficial ScanSnap Setup Guide – Combo. Includes both the Mac and Windows versions, for you cross-platform folks.

Thank you again for supporting the site in 2013. I’ll continue to strive to provide you with as much helpful information as I can.

Do you have a product you’d add to this list? Leave a note in the comment and let us know your favorite.

(Photo by terren in Virginia)

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The 2013 Survey Results Are In

Family FeudIn December I did the fourth annual survey of DocumentSnap blog readers and readers of the DocumentSnap newsletter.

In the surveys, I asked four main questions:

  1. What is the biggest problem that you have right now with going paperless?
  2. What would you like to see more of on the blog or newsletter?
  3. What would you like to see less of on the blog or newsletter?
  4. What platform are you using?

I also asked which scanner you are using, but the results were so overwhelming that there is no need to recap here. I’m sure you can guess which one was the winner.

I’d like to share the results with you for two reasons. First, since you took the time to answer the questions, it is only fair that you get to see the results. Second, I want to make sure that you know that whatever challenges you are having, you are not alone.

Let’s get started.

Which Platform Are You Using?

Blog PlatformNewsletter Platform

Not a big surprise here. On both the Mac and Windows, there is a fairly even split between platforms. What is surprising is how many of you use both.

What Is The Biggest Problem?

Blog Biggest ProblemNewsletter Biggest Problem

Organization is always the biggest problem that you have, and this year is no exception. This is why I created the Paperless Document Organization Guide and am currently working on a big update. Stay tuned for that.

One interesting thing this year: finding the time did not score as high as in previous years. Perhaps those of you who suffer from this just didn’t have time to fill out the survey.

I heard from many of you who struggle with scanning and processing the backlog of paper from before you started your paperless project. I’ll try to tackle that topic more in 2014.

What Would You Like To See More Of?

Blog See More OfNewsletter See More Of

On both the blog and the newsletter, many of you want to see more concrete examples of workflows. It’s great to talk about this or that piece of technology, but how do you put it all together?

I’ve been hearing more and more from those of you using network attached storage, or those wanting to know more about it. I guess I will finally have to cave and pick one up. You guys are enablers.

What Would You Like To See Less Of?

There were very few responses in the “Less Of” category (thank you!). Not surprisingly, some Mac users would like to see less Windows posts and some Windows users would like to see less Mac posts.

I try to keep things as balanced as possible, but if you feel things are tilted too far one way or the other, feel free to let me know. I would especially love reader suggestions for Windows topics.

2014 And Beyond

I’d to thank those of you who have read the DocumentSnap blog and newsletter in 2013, and especially those of you who have provided feedback throughout the year. I will do my best to make the blog and newsletter better and better for you.

In 2014, I will finally release the long-awaited update to the Paperless Document Organization Guide, and I have something else cooking that I think you will like if you are struggling to get started going paperless.

If you have anything you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment or hit me up any time. Have a great and paperless 2014!

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DocumentSnap Blog Survey 2013

Question BoxYou may not know this, but much of the content and ideas that I write about here at DocumentSnap comes directly from you: the awesome reader.

Every year (this will be year #4), I pause the regular tips and ask you what you would like to see on DocumentSnap. How can I help more? What would you like to see more of? What would you like to see less of?

This year is no different, so it would be amazing if you would take a minute and let me know what you think in the annual DocumentSnap Blog Survey.

It is super quick, and there are no required questions. It is totally anonymous – you don’t have to give any personal information or anything, and this is not a sales thing where I chase you down.

Click here to take the DocumentSnap 2013 Blog Reader Survey.

This annual survey is incredibly helpful – it lets me get a better idea of what you are interested in seeing on the site for the rest of 2013 and beyond.

Thanks again!

Brooks Duncan

PS- It is only fair that you get to see the survey results too. If you want to see what came out of last year, read all about it.

Here’s the link to this year’s questions again.

(Photo by Raymond Bryson)

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David Sparks Email

MacSparky E-mail CoverDavid Sparks always seems to know exactly what I am having probems with.

Just yesterday I wrote in the DocumentSnap newsletter that “email is my biggest struggle right now”, and today David releases his newest MacSparky Field Guide: Email.

Like his other guides[1] , Email has been designed for the iPad, taking full advantage of the iBooks format. There’s text, screenshots, video, and audio interviews galore. For those without an iPad, there is a PDF version as well.

I’m working my way through the interviews in Email, and the book is really great. As with all MacSparky Field Guides, it is written from a Mac perspective, but the “Tactical Email” section is absolutely cross platform. I’m going to start implementing some tips from there soon.

What’s your best email tip?

  1. You might be familiar with a little one called Paperless.  ↩

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Time Management With Mike Vardy

Mike Vardy CreativeLiveEvery year I do a survey of DocumentSnap blog and newsletter readers to find out what their biggest challenges are, and this year finding time was the big winner.

Fortunately, my friend Mike Vardy is doing a three day free (!) creativeLIVE session this week called Time Management 101: Prioritize the Right Things with Mike Vardy. It runs 9am – 4pm from Thursday October 31 – Saturday Nov 2.

If everything works out as it should, I[1] will be making a cameo appearance on Friday, November 1 from about 10:45–11am. Don’t hold that against him though.

I am really looking forward to this session. Definitely check it out if you struggle with time management (who doesn’t?)

  1. Or at least, my Skyped-in head and shoulders.  ↩

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Simple Life Together

A few weeks ago, I was wandering around my kids’ schoolyard at 6:30 in the morning picking up sticks[1]. I thought to myself, “Thank goodness Dan and Vanessa are keeping me company so I don’t feel like such a crazy person.”

I was listening to the Simple Life Together podcast, and I realized then that I haven’t given it the shout-out that it truly deserves.

Simple Life Together is a weekly[2] podcast by husband and wife team Dan and Vanessa Hayes that, well, I’ll let them describe it:

So, we hope you join us on our journey toward a simple life in the modern world. Listen to the podcast as we share how we try to simplify day to day tasks, organize our lives, edit our possessions and evaluate our priorities. Maybe you’ll discover for yourself what really matters most in your life. If nothing else, you’ll certainly have a laugh or two as we share our experiences, offer some simplifying tactics & strategies, and talk with others who are also on the road to a simple life together.

The way the episodes tend to work is that Vanessa (a Professional Organizer) has a topic that is often, but not always, organization related, and Dan (a… professional geek?) has a topic that is – I don’t really know how to describe his topics other than technology meets lifehacks meets Air Force experience. They also have a “things” segment where they each share a tip or a tool.

They also occasionally have guests on, including the questionable decision to have me as their first guest way back in Episode 6. Don’t hold that against them.

By the way, on a totally unrelated note, check out this completely bananas office that Dan designed and built for them.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and every time I listen to Simple Life Together I always have a smile on my face and end up with actionable tips at the end. I know from my e-mail that a lot of DocumentSnap readers are SLT fans, but if you haven’t checked it out yet, I encourage you to give it a listen.

You can see visit the main page here, or subscribe in iTunes.

Disclosure: I have met Dan and Vanessa multiple times, and every time I hang out with Dan we inevitably are enjoying an adult beverage. I have also enjoyed a Sazerac and a very questionable Old Fashioned with Vanessa in New Orleans.

  1. Long story.  ↩

  2. Well, except for this week. Slackers.  ↩

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