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ScanSnap Receipt – Initial Overview

ScanSnap ReceiptI 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.[1]

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.

Quick Menu

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.

ScanSnap Receipt Quick Menu

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.

ScanSnap Receipt ScanSnap Manager Profile

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.[2]

ScanSnap Receipt Inbox

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.

Editing Receipts

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.

Editing Text

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.

ScanSnap Receipt Editing A Receipt

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.

ScanSnap Receipt Select and OCR Text

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.

Categorizing Receipts

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.

Combining Receipts

To combine receipts, you can highlight the rows that you want to bring together, right-click, and hit Combine.

ScanSnap Receipt Combine Receipts

When you do, it will bring the receipts together and sum up the amount and the tax.

ScanSnap Receipt Combined

Splitting Receipts

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.

ScanSnap Receipt Split

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.

ScanSnap Receipt Add Filter

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.

ScanSnap Receipt Filter

Boom. Of course, you can just search by keyword as well and it will search the OCR’ed text of the receipt.

Exporting Receipts

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.

ScanSnap Receipt Export Options

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.

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:

  1. Make sure that your regular backup routine is picking up that storage folder.
  2. 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?


  1. To access Online Update, right-click on the ScanSnap icon in your Dock or Taskbar, choose Help, and then Online Update.  ↩

  2. Having said that, I’ve probably ruined it by saying that. Sorry if this gets killed in a future update!  ↩

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OmniFocus Premium Posts 2

OmniFocus Premium PostsI know there are a lot of OmniFocus users here at DocumentSnap (including myself), so I want to give a quick heads up that the folks at Asian Efficiency have just released the second edition of their OmniFocus Premium Posts.

I bought the first edition ages ago, and it totally changed how I was using the software. More importantly, their “Asian Efficiency Workflow” for OmniFocus really helped me make sure that I was spending time getting the important things done each day instead of just messing around checking off tasks.

This time instead of a PDF guide, they have 30+ videos and screencasts.

As I said, I loved the first edition and am enjoying working my way through this updated version.

Click here to learn more about OmniFocus Premium Posts.

If you purchase via that link, you’ll be buying me lunch so thank you. If you don’t want to do that for whatever reason, just head over to their site and buy it that way.

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Use Breevy On Windows To Supercharge Paperless File Naming

BreevyHaving 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.[1]

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.

Breevy Comcast

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.

Breevy Insert Date

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.

Breevy Date Select

Date Math

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.

Breevy Date Math

If you’d like, you can even have it subtract a month and prompt you for the day. Handy for end-of-month files.

Breevy Prompt For Date

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.

Breevy Date Backspace

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.

Combine Snippets

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.

Breevy Combine Snippets

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.


  1. In fact, Breevy can read TextExpander libraries, so you can share the same shortcuts on Windows and Mac. Great for cross-platform folks.  ↩

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How To Fix PDF Search In Windows 7 and Windows 8 64-Bit

One of the best things about modern operating systems like Mac OS X and Windows 7 and 8 is that search, particularly PDF search, is built right in. You don’t need to have a third party tool to search the contents of a searchable PDF – the OS will do it for you.

That is, unless you are running the 64-bit version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.

It is fairly common for DocumentSnap readers to write in with questions/problems, but it is pretty handy when a reader writes in with both the problem and the solution, which is exactly what superstar DocumentSnap reader Matt did recently.

Matt had a problem: He was scanning all these OCR’ed PDFs, but Windows Search was not finding them when he typed a keyword in the document. It would only find it if he typed in the name of a file, which pretty much defeats the purpose of Optical Character Recognition. Not having a Windows machine at the time I was flying blind, but we went back and forth and eventually he figured out what the issue was: an iFilter (but I am getting ahead of myself here).

What Is 64 Bit Windows And Do I Have It?

There are basically two types of Windows: 32-bit and 64-bit. I’ll let Microsoft describe the difference:

The terms 32-bit and 64-bit refer to the way a computer’s processor (also called a CPU), handles information. The 64-bit version of Windows handles large amounts of random access memory (RAM) more effectively than a 32-bit system.

It used to be that only high-end computers were 64-bit, but that has changed. This cheap Acer laptop I am writing this on is 64-bit, for example. How can you tell which kind of Windows you have?

On Windows 7:

  • Click the Start button.
  • Right-click on Computer, choose Properties.
  • You will see an entry for System Type which will give you the information that you need.

windows 7 properties

On Windows 8:

  • Open the Control Panel.
  • Click/Tap System/Security
  • Click/Tab System
  • There’ll be an entry for System type that will say 64 or 32 bits

If you are having problems with PDF search and your System type says 32-bit, you can probably stop reading. This post likely won’t help you.

What Is The Problem?

Windows 7 and 8’s search capabilities are pretty good, but for some reason the 64-bit has a problem indexing PDF files. Windows Search uses something called an iFilter to help it index files, and the PDF iFilter for 64-bit Windows is missing. (This probably applies to 64-bit Vista and 64-bit XP too).

Here is how to tell if you have the problem:

  • Click on the Start Menu and choose Control Panel
  • Change View By to Small Icons and click on Indexing Options
  • Click on the Advanced button
  • Click on the File Types tab
  • Scroll way down to pdf and you will probably see Registered IFilter Is Not Found

Registered IFilter Is Not Found

If you see that message, you have the iFilter problem.

As an additional test, download or scan a searchable PDF. You can see here that I am searching for the word “Westminster” in Acrobat Reader and it is finding it. When I search using the search box under the Start menu, it doesn’t find it.

Westminster

Replace The Missing IFilter

To fix the problem, you need to download the missing iFilter.

Download Adobe PDF iFilter 9 for 64-bit platforms here

Once you download it, unzip it and run the installer.

When the installer completes, go back and look at the file types list from above. It should now say “PDF Filter” instead of the “Registered IFilter Is Not Found” message. Yeah!

Test The New iFilter

Download or scan a new searchable PDF and find a word that is in the text and search on it in Acrobat Reader. For example, here I searched for the word “idyll”.

Idyll

Now I will search for it in Windows Search, and it looks like it found it. Double Yeah!

Idyll

Now lets search for Westminster again:

Westminster

Looks like it still didn’t find it. No!

It turns out that fixing the iFilter will only fix new documents, not the one that Windows Search has already indexed.

Do A Re-Index

In order to fix this problem, we’ll need to tell Windows 7 or Windows 8 to do a re-index. If you have a large hard drive, this could take a long time, so do it before you are going to bed or something.

  • Click on the Start Menu and choose Control Panel
  • Change View By to Small Icons and click on Indexing Options
  • Click the Advanced button
  • On the Indexing Settings tab, hit Rebuild

Once this is done, let’s try searching for Westminster again. Hopefully third time’s the charm?

Westminster

It’s there!

I’m On Windows 8 And This Still Doesn’t Work

Believe it or not, in some cases there is a bug with Adobe Acrobat that breaks search in Windows 8. These guys.

The fix involves changing the Registry, so only do this if you know what you are doing. I don’t have Windows 8 so I have not tried this myself, but here are the Windows 8 Adobe Acrobat fix instructions.

This Should Get You Going

Thanks again to Matt for doing the detective work on this one. Hopefully it will help one of you if you find that your 64-bit Windows isn’t finding your documents.

This article was originally written in December 2010, but was updated in September 2014 for Windows 8.

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Take Control of FileVault – Learn About Mac Encryption

Take Control of FileVaultThe news is filled right now with hand-wringing about the security of online information (I’m hurt that I’m not famous enough for my nude selfies to make it to Reddit).

The seemingly obvious defense is to keep your sensitive information stored locally, but what happens if your computer is stolen?

A solution to this is to encrypt the information on your hard drive. You can do this by encrypting specific files, but the easiest way is to just encrypt your entire drive.[1]

There are many ways to accomplish this, but the easiest way on Mac OS X Lion and later is called FileVault[2], which is built in to OS X.

(On Windows, the rough equivalent is BitLocker.)

I’ve been a FileVault user for years, and if you have enabled it you will know there is seemingly not much to it. If you want your drive encrypted, turn it on. If you don’t, turn it off.

You can get by perfectly well with this level of knowledge, but encryption can be like an onion: the more you start looking into it, the more layers there are to peel away.

I’ve been meaning to do a more in-depth feature on FileVault and encryption for a while, but fortunately Joe Kissell has made an ebook that means I don’t need to: he has written Take Control of FileVault, and it’s extremely comprehensitve.

If you are a long-time reader of DocumentSnap you might recognize Joe’s name as he is the author of the excellent Take Control of Your Paperless Office.

In typical Take Controllian fashion, the guide goes through pretty much everything you might want to know (and more) about encryption with FileVault. Here’s a few things that it covers that I found helpful:

  • Protection for external drives.
  • Encrypting backups (sure your computer might be encrypted, but what about that drive sitting beside it?)
  • At what point is the data encrypted?

I like how the guide starts with the basics (what you need to know before you turn it on, how you turn it on) and then delves a little deeper into encrypting external drives and backups, and then goes into extremely geeky ways that you can interact with FileVault and other scenarios that are pretty hardcore even for me.

There’s also a helpful FAQ right at the beginning too.

FileVault is something that I had never given a lot of thought to other than turning it on, so I learned a lot from Take Control of FileVault. If you are someone who wants to dive into encryption on the Mac, it might be helpful for you too. It is $10 from the Take Control Store, and if you purchase through that link you’ll be buying me an Americano (thank you).


  1. This is not an either-or thing by the way — you can do both.  ↩

  2. Technically FileVault 2, but don’t get picky.  ↩

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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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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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