As I have mentioned earlier, the question of “what do I do with my files once I have scanned them?” comes up quite a bit. If you use Windows, it can be hard to decide which paperless office software package to use (or if you even need one).
In a strange role reversal, a client of mine came across and recommended FileCenter by Lucion to me. Since playing around with it, I have passed on that recommendation to a number of Windows users that have written me (and they all love it), but somehow I have never actually written about FileCenter on the blog. So, here we go.
FileCenter is a software package that sits firmly in the middle of the options out there. It is easy enough to use for home use, but it has enough power to be used by businesses. It is not a heavy-duty enterprise Document Management System, but it doesn’t cost thousands of dollars either.
How Are Files Represented?
When you use FileCenter, you have a choice between showing your files as a normal Windows-like folder structure, or having them represented as “Cabinets”, “Drawers”, and “Folders”.
Personally I recommend going with the cabinets view but do whatever works for you.
One of the best features of FileCenter, in my opinion, is that it uses the normal Windows file structure to store its documents. It does not move them into some proprietary database.
For example, here is a screenshot from FileCenter showing a cabinet, drawer, and some files:
Now here is the screenshot from Windows:
Cabinets, drawers, and folders are just represented as normal Windows folders, so it is very easy to get at your documents if you ever need to.
(By the way, they don’t all have to be in the same folder. A cabinet can be on a network drive or some other location).
File Naming Rules
If you have a bunch of regularly recurring documents that have a standard name (for example, bills), you can create file naming rules that will automatically name the document when you file it.
As an example, I have a drawer called “Terasen Gas” to represent a gas bill. I set up a naming rule so that when I file something in that folder, it automatically names it to today’s date with the name of the drawer.
Here is the rule:
Now when I want to drag a file from my Inbox to a folder, I choose my rule as the “drop name” and then drag it
Now you can see the file is automatically renamed.
If you work with clients, projects, or have some situation where you often have a folder structure with a set of subfolders, you can set up folder templates to automatically create these for you.
For example, on this client folder, I will choose Apply Folder Templates and choose one I set up called Client.
Now it has automatically created the client folder structure under ABC Corp:
You can probably see how useful this could be when you have a bunch of date-based folders.
“But Wait, There’s More!”
These are only a few of the features that FileCenter has, but I think you get the idea. It does OCR, lets you split and edit documents, converts PDFs, encrypts and securely deletes documents, and a bunch of other stuff.
I recommend checking out the features page for a list of all of them. They have little videos for each feature.
FileCenter comes in three versions: Standard, Pro, and Pro PLUS. You can compare the versions here.
It is not the cheapest software out there, but it is not the most expensive either. If it were me, I would probably go for the Pro version as it has the drop renaming and other features that Standard doesn’t have.
If you have a ScanSnap, you can probably get away without Pro PLUS as the scanner’s software can take care of most of the extra features (page rotation, advanced OCR).
Any FileCenter users out there? Leave a comment and let us know what you like and don’t like about it.