I mentioned in my recent ScanSnap iX100 Review that while the scanner is good, what made me fall out of my chair was the under-the-radar inclusion of a new software feature called ScanSnap Receipt.
This is something that ScanSnap users have requested for a long time – the ability to scan a receipt and have the ability to categorize and export the data for taxes, expense tracking, and the like.
The new ScanSnap Receipt application ships with the ScanSnap iX100, and it has started appearing via Online Update for ScanSnap iX500 customers as well. If you have an older ScanSnap and it has shown up for you, please leave a comment and let us know.
One unfortunate note: I have heard reports that it is only appearing for customers with ScanSnap devices purchased in the United States. If you have an iX100 or iX500 and you are outside the US, leave a comment and let us know if it is/isn’t appearing for you.
Getting Receipts Into ScanSnap Receipt
ScanSnap Receipt is a separate application and is not built-in to ScanSnap Organizer, their document management application. The con of this is that if you use ScanSnap Organizer to manage your documents, everything is not tied in. The pro of this is that if you do not use ScanSnap Organizer, you still have the benefit of receipt management and extraction.
There are essentially three ways to get your receipts in to ScanSnap Receipt:
- Scan a receipt and select ScanSnap Receipt in the Quick Menu.
- Set up a ScanSnap Manager Profile for ScanSnap Receipt and use that to scan.
- Drag or import PDFs or JPGs in to the ScanSnap Receipt application itself.
Let’s take a look.
When you scan a receipt and have the Quick Menu enabled, it does a pretty good job of automatically detecting that it is a receipt and you should see ScanSnap Receipt in the Recommended section.
If for whatever reason it doesn’t auto-detect that it is a receipt, not a problem. Just find ScanSnap Receipt in the list.
A nice touch – if you use Quick Menu and you have the ScanSnap Receipt application running, it will keep scanning subsequent receipts to ScanSnap Receipt. You don’t have to keep selecting it.
ScanSnap Manager Profile
If you are not the Quick Menu type, you can set up a ScanSnap Manager Profile for your receipts. Just select ScanSnap Receipt on the Application tab.
Drag Into ScanSnap Receipt
You can drag a PDF or JPG image into the ScanSnap Receipt window, or use File > Import. It will then process the receipt and OCR if necessary.
To my utter shock and awe, this works for documents that were not scanned by the ScanSnap. I tested it out scanning with a few mobile scanning apps, both OCRed and not, and it happily imported them all. I was sure it would be locked down the way ScanSnap Organizer is.
ScanSnap Receipt Inbox
For organization, ScanSnap Receipt uses inboxes, and has one called My Inbox by default. Anything you scan or import will go there.
You can create other inboxes for high level organization if you’d like.
It would be nice if you could scan a receipt and have all the text detected perfectly and placed in the correct fields perfectly.
Unfortunately with pretty much any OCR solution, that will usually not be the case. There’s often something you need to tweak.
In my experience so far, I have found that it is great at detecting dates, amounts, taxes, payment method, and card numbers.
The Vendor name wasn’t super successful, though that is often a result of wacky logos etc. It’s pretty hard for any program to know exactly which piece of text is the vendor.
Fortunately, it is fast and easy to fix this stuff up.
If you just need to make a quick edit, you can type it directly in the spreadsheet-like view of all of the receipts. If you want to zoom in on an individual receipt, you can double-click it or select it and hit the Edit button.
In this example, it has detected the date, amount, tax, and card of my unhealthy but delicious airport burrito, but it didn’t get the vendor right.
Of course, I could just type in the correct name, but ScanSnap Receipt has a cool select-and-OCR feature.
Just select a bit of text in the receipt and it will pop up a window asking which field you’d like it placed in.
I highlighted El Bravo and chose Vendor, and it put the correct text in the Vendor field. Handy.
Checked vs. Unchecked
ScanSnap has a way for you to keep track of which receipts you’ve gone through and edited. There’s a field called Unchecked that has two states: Unchecked and Checked.
By default any receipt that is scanned/imported has a state of Unchecked. Once you’ve edited a receipt, it changes the state to Checked. You can, of course, change that back and forth manually.
This is good to know if you are editing a receipt and all of a sudden it “disappears”. Chances are you have a filter set to only show Unchecked receipts.
Currency and Tax
The ScanSnap Receipt help is explicit about the currency it supports:
The supported monetary unit is U.S. dollar only.
Unfortunately I don’t have any receipts that were non-US or Canadian (Canada uses the same symbol) so I am not exactly sure what happens when you process receipts in other currencies.
You may notice that the screenshot above only has one Tax field. Unfortunately, this means that for many Canadian provinces it is not going to detect the tax correctly since we have two. You can, of course, just edit it to enter the correct amount.
Hopefully ScanSnap Receipt will eventually become a more internationalized application, given the global nature of business these days.
The software comes with a set of Categories and Subcategories that you can modify. There is only one level of subcategories, so your hierarchy is only one level deep.
Combining and Splitting Receipts
I have found the ScanSnap Receipt software pretty smart about automatically splitting receipts. If I scan two receipts with in one shot, it automatically splits them out to two separate receipts in the software. However, if you need to combine receipts or split manually, you can do this.
To combine receipts, you can highlight the rows that you want to bring together, right-click, and hit Combine.
When you do, it will bring the receipts together and sum up the amount and the tax.
You can also split up a receipt. This is handy if you have different categories, or perhaps part of a receipt is for Business and part is Personal.
For example, let’s take this receipt from Aunt Chilada’s. Perhaps my delicious carnitas tacos was a business expense, but I wanted the “Hand-Tossed Marg.” (whatever that is) to be a personal expense.
I right-click the receipt and choose Split, and I can make those changes.
Once you do that, the receipt goes back into the Unchecked state and you can go in and review the changes.
Searching and Filtering Receipts
A nice thing about having all these fields to work off of is you can do some slicing and dicing to see (and export) just the receipts you want.
The key is the handy + button that lets you filter by your fields.
Once you press that, you can add up to three levels of filters. So let’s say we wanted to find the tax deductible travel receipts.
Boom. Of course, you can just search by keyword as well and it will search the OCR’ed text of the receipt.
The point of using a receipt program isn’t to do all this work organizing receipts – you presumably want to do something with the information.
You can export the receipts as individual PDFs, as one big PDF, as JPGs, or as a CSV file.
In ScanSnap Receipt for Windows, you can transfer receipts to Quickbooks Pro 2012 or later. You need to connect it to the company file, map the data for transferring, and then you can move data over.
You can export an individual receipt or the selected receipts, which is where filtering can come in handy. You can slice and dice the data exactly how you want it, and then export.
You may find it helpful to check out the CSV that ScanSnap Receipts puts out. I’ve generated a Mac and Windows one just in case there are any wacky differences.
- CSV format generated from ScanSnap Receipts on the Mac
- CSV format generated from ScanSnap Receipts on Windows
Other than CSV/image export, there aren’t any reports that you can run from your receipt data.
Storage and Backup
Here’s where things get slightly weird. As far as I can tell, all the receipt images and data is stored in a proprietary database.
On the Mac, this is stored in ~/Library/Application Data/PFU/ScanSnap Receipt.
On Windows, it is in your User folder under AppData\Local\PFU\ScanSnap Receipt.
The ScanSnap Receipt application provides a backup facility that can be found under Tools > Backup. If you are going to be using ScanSnap Receipt, I HIGHLY recommend you:
- Make sure that your regular backup routine is picking up that storage folder.
- On some sort of regular basis use Tools > Backup to back up your database and keep that file safe.
Proprietary databases make me nervous, so protect yourself.
Workflow And Closing Thoughts
It isn’t 100% clear to me what Fujitsu’s intentions are around ScanSnap Receipt. Should people be storing their regular documents in ScanSnap Organizer and their receipts in ScanSnap Receipt? Is ScanSnap Receipt intended to be more “transactional”, where you dump your receipts into it when you want to get them ready for taxes/exporting?
This is early days (the software has one been out for two days in North America) and as with most things to do with going paperless, I suspect we will all find the way that works best for us.
ScanSnap Receipt isn’t the most beautiful application in the world (Mac design people may not approve), but to me it hits the key areas: it can take a receipt, extract the information out if it, let you clean it up, and then export the data.
I’d like to hear from you, especially if you have been waiting for years for a ScanSnap receipt tool. Does ScanSnap Receipt meet your needs? What features would you like to see?