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Video: Background OCR with the ScanSnap iX500 On The Mac

ScanSnap iX500Fujitsu has just released the ScanSnap iX500. There are many new features, most of which I get into in my iX500 review, but one of them is the ability for Mac users to perform OCR in the background.

This is great because now you can scan and then let OCR do its thing creating searchable PDFs in the background while you go on to something else.

This video shows how it works both at the time of scanning, and when dragging ScanSnap-created PDFs and folders in later.

View the video below, or click here to watch it on YouTube. If you are able to, I recommend that you watch it with HD turned on.

This video on background OCR with the ScanSnap iX500 is part of a series of quick videos on paperless tips and topics. View more in the series here.

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Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Review

ScanSnap iX500 topIf there is one thing I am happy about in 2013, it is that I don’t have to answer[1] the question “When is Fujitsu coming out with a replacement for the ScanSnap S1500?” anymore. That is because today they have announced the ScanSnap iX500, their new desktop document scanner.

Fujitsu hooked me up with a review unit, so let’s check it out.

One iX500 To Rule Them All

Like their last two scanners, the personal S1300i and the portable S1100, Fujitsu has done away with the separate Mac and Windows models. There is now just one black model that works on both Windows and the Mac.

This simplifies things greatly for those that are trying to decide which model to get, but it does have some software implications that I will get into below.

ScanSnap iX500 open
ScanSnap iX500 open

Speed

The first difference between the iX500 and its predecessors is speed. It scans at 25 pages per minute, as opposed to the S1500’s 20ppm and the S1300i’s 12ppm.

They’ve moved much of the processing to a new chip that they call the GI Processor, and most importantly (for me, anyways), they’ve moved OCR processing to a parallel process which means it starts while the scanning is occurring. This means no more long waits for documents to be made searchable after you finish scanning.

I’ve scanned large-ish documents and having been in the ScanSnap ecosystem since 2008 (using the S300M, S1300, and S1300i), I was in shock how fast both the scanning and processing was.

More on OCR in a bit.

Wireless Scanning

This is the feature of the ScanSnap iX500 that is probably going to get the most press.

You have been able to use your ScanSnap with the ScanSnap Connect mobile app for quite some time, but it was indirect – the scanner needed to be plugged in to your computer, and your computer was the one doing the communicating.

The iX500 has a Wi-Fi chip built-in (the aforementioned GI Processor), and can communicate directly with an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android device.

There is a Wi-Fi switch at the back of the scanner, and there is a light at the front of the scanner that lets you know when you are connected.

ScanSnap iX500 Wi-Fi Light
ScanSnap iX500 Wi-Fi Light

When you install the ScanSnap software on your computer, it asks you if you want to set the iX500 up on your wireless network, and steps you through getting it set up. Once you’ve done that, you can totally cut the computer out of the equation.

ScanSnap iX500 Want Wireless
ScanSnap iX500 Want Wireless

I made a video that shows how it works. The video shows scanning to an iPad, but it is the same deal with any other iOS or Android device. Click here to watch it on YouTube.

As it stands right now, wi-fi scanning only works scanning to an iOS or Android device. It would be cool if they made it so that you could scan to a computer too, but that is not how it works right now.

Update 07/30/2013: The iX500 now supports wi-fi scanning to a Mac or Windows computer!

Background OCR

As I mentioned earlier, the ScanSnap iX500 ships with software that makes OCR much faster. However, for Mac users, there is an extra enhancement.

Windows users have always been able to have background OCR using ScanSnap Organizer. You could scan to the Organizer software and let it do its thing while you keep scanning or working.

Since ScanSnap Organizer is Windows only, Mac users have been out of luck unless we did some wacky background OCR hacks.

The iX500 ships with the Mac Searchable PDF Converter. I’ll have another post about that as I play with it, but basically it does what the name says: it lets you scan to a folder and have OCR run in the background when the computer is idle.

Mac Searchable PDF Converter
Mac Searchable PDF Converter

Software

The iX500 comes with some some software enhancements and some (cough) changes.

Enhanced Quick Menu

I am not personally a Quick Menu user, but it is definitely helpful for newer or less tech-savvy users. The first change they made is to make the Quick Menu try to detect what type of document you are scanning. For example, I threw in a business card and it helpfully suggested CardMinder.

ScanSnap iX500 Quick Menu
ScanSnap iX500 Quick Menu

You can also control the order that Quick Menu entries appear in, and you can now add your own applications to the Quick Menu which is pretty cool. Hit the gear icon to do this.

CardMinder for Mac

Speaking of CardMinder, the Mac version of CardMinder is now the business card application that ships with the iX500. I don’t have much to say about this as I am not a big bizcard guy. If you’d like me to do a post about this and dig in further, leave a note in the comments.

Bundled Software

The ScanSnap iX500 comes with the following software:

  • ScanSnap Organizer (Windows)
  • CardMinder (Windows, Mac)
  • ABBYY FineReader for ScanSnap (Windows, Mac)
  • Acrobat X Standard (Windows)
  • ABBYY FineReader Express (Mac)

It also comes with the cloud scanning abilities that have been added to the ScanSnap line over the past few years: Scan To Evernote, Dropbox, SugarSync, Google Docs, Sharepoint, etc.

Perceptive Mac readers will notice something right away: the ScanSnap iX500 does not ship with a Mac version of Adobe Acrobat. I always wondered how Fujitsu would handle this when they inevitably moved to a hybrid desktop ScanSnap, and now we know.

I can definitely see some Mac users getting cranky about this, so it will be interesting to see what the reaction will be. The line with the desktop ScanSnaps was always “Sure they are a bit expensive, but they come with a full version of Acrobat. That’s $300 right there!” Now for Mac users at least, that is no longer true.

If you are a Mac user and want something Acrobat-y for much less money, you might want to check out PDFPen.

Paper Management

In addition to the speed and wireless scanning enhancements, Fujitsu has made some improvements to paper handling with the ScanSnap iX500.

They’ve replaced the pad assembly with brake rollers. Apparently this is something they brought in from the higher-level scanners. I certainly didn’t have any paper feed issues in my tests.

They also made it so that the ScanSnap can handle heavier paper and even plastic cards. I threw in my REI card and it fed it through easily.

There is a new setting for bleed through detection, if you have paper that might be susceptible to that sort of thing.

Availability

So far, I don’t see the ScanSnap iX500 on any of the online shopping sites, but I will update it when it is available. The suggested retail price is $495.

It looks like the iX500 is showing up on Amazon now. At the time of writing this it doesn’t have a picture yet, but it is sold by Amazon, so it seems to be legit.

Like all ScanSnaps, the iX500 does not support TWAIN, so if you think you need it, give the ScanSnap Folder functionality a look. If that still does not meet your needs, you will probably need to look elsewhere.

However, if you’ve been holding out for an S1500 replacement, now you have one. This is the fastest consumer level ScanSnap they’ve released, and the wireless scanning works well. They’ve added features while still making it fast and easy to use. I really like it.


  1. Or more accurately, not answer since I had no idea.  ↩

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Video: ScanSnap Folder On Windows Lets You Scan From Any Application

ScanSnap FolderSo you know how you always hear that the Fujitsu ScanSnap doesn’t support TWAIN?[1]

That is true, but recently the company slipped in a new feature that I don’t think gets quite enough visibility: the ability to scan and attach a document from anywhere on Windows using what they call the ScanSnap Folder.

It’s Windows only unfortunately, but this video shows you how it works.

View the video below, or click here to watch it on YouTube. If you are able to, I recommend that you watch it with HD turned on.

This video on the ScanSnap Folder is part of a series of quick videos on paperless tips and topics. View more in the series here.


  1. Not sure what TWAIN is? Check out this TWAIN video.  ↩

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Mobile Scanner – 12 Days Of Paperless Gifts

GiftboxThis is Day 3 in a 12 Day series: 12 Days Of Paperless Gifts. If you know someone who could use some help going paperless, or if you deserve to treat yourself, this is the place. If you don’t, feel free to ignore this series. Normal DocumentSnap posts will still be coming!

We’ve covered desktop document scanners and home document scanners, so it is time to complete the trifecta. If you or your special someone needs a truly portable scanner, or if you want to go to an even lower price point, mobile document scanners might be the way to go.

Here are some good choices:

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100

ScanSnap S1100

  • Who is it for?: Windows or Mac users who want extreme mobility.
  • How fast is it?: 8 pages per minute, single sided.
  • How much paper can it hold?: 1 page.
  • How big is it?: 10.74“ x 1.87” x 1.33".
  • How much does it weigh?: 1.5 pounds.
  • What software does it come with?:
    ScanSnap Organizer (Windows)
    ABBYY FineReader For ScanSnap
    CardMinder (Windows)
    CardIris (Mac)
  • Where can I buy it?
    Amazon US
    Amazon Canada

Doxie One

Doxie

  • Who is it for?: Windows or Mac users who want to be able to scan without a computer.
  • How fast is it?: 7.5 pages per minute
  • How much paper can it hold?: 1 sheet
  • How big is it?: 10.5“ x 1.7” x 2.2"
  • How much does it weigh?: 13.6 oz
  • What software does it come with?:
    Doxie Scanning & Sharing Software
  • Where can I buy it?
    Amazon
    Doxie Store

Doxie Go

Doxie

  • Who is it for?: Windows or Mac users who want to be able to scan without a computer.
  • How fast is it?: 7.5 pages per minute
  • How much paper can it hold?: 1 sheet
  • How big is it?: 10.5“ x 1.7” x 2.2"
  • How much does it weigh?: 14.2 oz
  • What software does it come with?:
    Doxie Scanning & Sharing Software
  • Where can I buy it?
    Amazon

NeatReceipts

NeatReceipts

  • Who is it for?: Windows or Mac users who want to be able to scan and extract receipt information.
  • How fast is it?: 3–5 receipts per minute.
  • How much paper can it hold?: 1 sheet
  • How big is it?: 10.8“ x 1.6” x 1.3"
  • How much does it weigh?: 10.6 oz
  • What software does it come with?: NeatWorks
  • Where can I buy it?
    Amazon Windows
    Amazon Mac
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Home Scanner – 12 Days Of Paperless Gifts

GiftboxThis is Day 2 in a 12 Day series: 12 Days Of Paperless Gifts. If you know someone who could use some help going paperless, or if you deserve to treat yourself, this is the place. If you don’t, feel free to ignore this series. Normal DocumentSnap posts will still be coming!

Our previous gift was a desktop document scanner, but those might be a bit big (or expensive) for your needs. Let’s go a bit smaller and more affordable and look at home document scanners.

I call them a home scanner for lack of a better term. Basically, it is a category in between a full desktop scanner and a true mobile scanner.

So, whether your criteria is size, portability, or cost, here are a few options:

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i

ScanSnap S1300i

  • Who is it for?: Windows or Mac users who want ease of use and high quality scans.
  • How fast is it?: 12 pages per minute, double sided.
  • How much paper can it hold?: 10 pages.
  • How big is it?: 11.2“ x 3.9” x 3".
  • How much does it weigh?: 3.1 pounds.
  • What software does it come with?:
    ScanSnap Organizer (Windows)
    ABBYY FineReader For ScanSnap
    CardMinder (Windows)
    CardIris (Mac)
  • Where can I buy it?
    Amazon US
    Amazon Canada

Canon imageFORMULA P–215

Canon imageFORMULA P-215

  • Who is it for?: Mac or Windows users who need TWAIN compatibility or the ability to scan cards.
  • How fast is it?: 15 pages per minute B&W, 10 pages per minute Color, double sided.
  • How much paper can it hold?: 20 pages.
  • How big is it?: 11.2“ x 3.7” x 1.6".
  • How much does it weigh?: 2.2 pounds.
  • What software does it come with?:
    Canon CaptureOnTouch
    Canon CaptureOnTouch Lite
    Nuance PaperPort (Windows)
    NewSoft Presto! PageManager (Mac)
    NewSoft Presto! BizCard
  • Where can I buy it?
    Amazon US
    Amazon Canada
    Amazon UK
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Fujitsu ScanSnap On Windows 8 – Your Experience?

Windows 8Windows fans can rejoice because the latest and greatest, Windows 8, is now out and available for purchase.

As I do with every new major operating system release, I thought I would take this opportunity to get your feedback on how it is working with the Fujitsu ScanSnap.

Longtime DocumentSnap readers may remember that there were some issues with Windows 7 and the ScanSnap that were eventually cleared up, but it looks like Fujitsu is ahead of the game this time.

Online Update

If you have a newer ScanSnap (the ScanSnap S1500, ScanSnap S1300i, ScanSnap S1300, or ScanSnap S1100), your best bet is to do an Online Update.

To do an Online Update, go to Help > Online Update in the ScanSnap Manager software.

Specific Models

Fujitsu has provided Windows 8 compatibility pages for each model. Here you go:

It looks like things are mostly good-to-go, with the exception of some weirdness installing from the DVD. The pages for each model gives the workarounds for those.

Your Experience?

I haven’t seen any reports of any issues. However, if you have some, I have a feeling this workaround for an older Fujitsu scanner will probably do the trick.

Do you use a Fujitsu ScanSnap with Windows 8? Please leave a comment and let us know how it is working out for you.

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Video: How To Scan With The ScanSnap In Black And White

ScanSnap S1300i Black & WhiteWhether it is to save space or speed things up, sometimes you want to scan a document in black and white vs. color or grayscale.

This video shows you how to do it with any Fujitsu ScanSnap using the ScanSnap Manager software that comes with it.

View the video below, or click here to watch it on YouTube. If you are able to, I recommend that you watch it with HD turned on.

This video on scanning in black & white with the ScanSnap is part of a series of quick videos on paperless tips and topics. View more in the series here.

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Fujitsu ScanSnap And Background OCR on Windows

Windows BackgroundSometimes when you have a bunch of documents to scan, having to wait for the OCR to complete between each group of documents can feel like it is slowing you down.

With the Fujitsu ScanSnap, there is a way to have OCR run in the background so that you can just keep feeding in your paper, and let the searchable PDF magic happen afterwards.

I have done a video about batch OCR with the Mac Fujitsu ScanSnap before, but it is possible on Windows too. This post will show you how.

Configure ScanSnap Manager

The first thing that you want to do is set up ScanSnap Manager. Right-click on the ScanSnap icon in your system tray (at the bottom right of your screen) and choose Scan Button Settings….

Right-click System Tray
Right-click System Tray

At this point, you can either modify an existing Profile or create a new one. Whichever way you do it, go to the Application tab and set the Application dropdown to ABBYY Scan To Searchable PDF.

Application Tab
Application Tab

Next, set your Save and Scanning tabs however you normally set them. The Save tab will be where your scanned documents end up.

On the File option tab, you will find that things are generally grayed out. Don’t worry about the fact that Convert to Searchable PDF is unchecked. As strange as it seems, that is what you want.

File option tab
File option tab

What we are doing with these steps is telling the ScanSnap to scan our documents to the ABBYY FineReader for ScanSnap software which is what will be doing the OCR-ing. By passing our documents off to FineReader right away, we can let it run in the background and get back to scanning.

Configure ABBYY FineReader

There are a few minor things we need to do on the ABBYY side. To configure it, click your Start button, navigate to the ABBYY FineReader for ScanSnap group and launch ABBYY FineReader for ScanSnap.

FineReader Start Menu
FineReader Start Menu

Once we start that up, we have some options that we can configure. Let’s start with the General Options tab. Make sure that Delete scanned images after recognition is checked. As scary as that sounds, we don’t want it to keep around both the non-searchable and the searchable PDF. We just want the searchable one.

If it makes you feel comfortable, feel free to leave it unchecked the first few scans to make sure that everything is working OK first.

ABBYY General Tab
ABBYY General Tab

Next, we want to go to the Scan to Searchable PDF tab, and uncheck Open PDF after recognition. We don’t want our images to keep popping up after every scan. We just want the files.

ABBYY Scan Tab
ABBYY Scan Tab

That’s it! Now hit OK and we should be good to go.

Test It Out

To test it out, try scanning a document through the scanner. Once the scanning part is done, scan another one. Both scans will be queued up by FineReader and once it launches, the OCR part will start and both documents should be OCRed.[1]

When everything is all done, you should have your OCRed documents in the location that you had specified on the Save tab of ScanSnap Manager.

Scanned Documents
Scanned Documents

For some annoying reason, ABBYY puts “_OCR” at the end of each filename, but I figure that is not a big deal because I’ll likely be renaming the files anyways later.

Once you get the hang of batch scanning, it can be really nice. If you have other tips for scanning timesavers, feel free to leave them in the comments.

(Photo by heartbeaz)


  1. The initial startup might take a while, but that may be because my Windows computer is a piece of junk. Even if it does take a while, it doesn’t matter. You can keep scanning.  ↩

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Fujitsu ScanSnap On Mac OS X Mountain Lion – Your Experience?

Mountain LionIf you are a Mac user, you probably know that the latest version of Mac OS X, 10.8 Mountain Lion, has been released today via the Mac App Store. As I have done with Lion and the fun that was Snow Leopard, I am providing this post as a way to share our experience with the Fujitsu ScanSnap on Mountain Lion. Is it working OK for you?

ScanSnap Mountain Lion Compatibility

I haven’t been able to find a general ScanSnap Mountain Lion page, but there is one for each model. Here’s what I’ve found:

  • ScanSnap S1500/S1500M: Supported. See this page and/or instructions below.
  • ScanSnap S1300/S1300i: Supported. See this page and/or instructions below.
  • ScanSnap S1100: Supported. See this page and/or instructions below.
  • ScanSnap S510M: Will be supported by the end of July. See this page and/or instructions below.
  • ScanSnap S300M: Will be supported by the end of July. See this page and/or instructions below.

Preparing Your ScanSnap For OS X Mountain Lion

If you have an S1500, S1500M, S1300i, S1300, or S1100, the best way to go is to do an online update.

To do that:

  • Make sure ScanSnap Manager is running
  • Go to Help > Online Update
  • Follow the instructions

If you want to see this in video form, I’ve created a short video.

View the video below, or click here to watch it on YouTube. If you are able to, I recommend that you watch it with HD turned on.

If for whatever reason you can’t online update, this Fujitsu page has the drivers for manual installation.

ABBYY FineReader and CardIris

It looks like the new security restrictions in Mountain Lion can cause ABBYY and CardIris to have a problem when updating to new versions. This Fujitsu page has a workaround.

Adobe Acrobat

I haven’t been able to find anything specific on Acrobat 9, but the comments on this Roaring Apps page do not make me hopeful. If you have any information, please leave it in the comments.

Your Experience?

I am not going to have a chance to install Mountain Lion for a bit. How is it working for you with your ScanSnap, both the scanner and the included software?

I’d appreciate it if you left a comment either way. I’ll update this post as new information becomes available.

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ScanSnap S1300i Now On Amazon

ScanSnap S1300iThough the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i was announced in June, and I reviewed the S1300i in early July, helpful DocumentSnap reader John has pointed out to me that it is now available from Amazon.com.

I mention this because I get a lot of questions from readers asking when Amazon will be carrying it, and I had promised to do a post about it.

At the time of this writing, Amazon themselves is out of stock, but it is available from third party shippers. If you click Add to Cart on the Amazon seller as per the screenshot below, Amazon will send it when they have it in stock (hopefully very soon).

Amazon S1300i
Amazon S1300i

If you order it through Amazon and it ships, feel free to leave a comment and let us know.

PS- If you buy the S1300i through that link, you’ll be buying me a beverage, so thank you so much. If you don’t want to do that, not a problem, Just hit Amazon directly and do a search and you’ll find it.

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