Neat Desktop - What The Heck Is Going On?

Neat Desktop – What The Heck Is Going On?

In the past few months I’ve been flooded with emails from people looking to migrate away from Neat Desktop for their receipts and document scanning and organization.

When you get one or two emails on a subject you assume it’s a coincidence. When it becomes dozens of messages, it’s time to see what is going on.

Neat Desktop Is Being Discontinued

Neat is getting out of the desktop software game, and that seems to have many people heading for the door.

Here is what they say in their support note:

Effective immediately, Neat will no longer continue developing feature enhancements, updates, and/or bug fixes for the versions of Neat desktop software listed below:

  • Windows – Neat version 5.7 and all previous versions
  • Mac – Neat for Mac version 4.5 and all previous versions

Neat has been developing their cloud system for quite some time, but until this year you have been able to continue using Neat on the desktop. Now they are pushing everyone to the cloud.

I asked one of my readers why they are switching, and here was the response:

Neat stopped their Legacy desktop support early this year. They are focusing and concentrating on their cloud-based application which gets very mixed reviews. In my opinion it’s not great.

I don’t have personal experience with Neat’s cloud service, so if you are a user I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

Neat Alternatives

For those that don’t want to make the switch to Neat’s cloud, what do you do? This is especially an issue for those that rely on Neat’s receipt extraction functionality.

Option 1 – Ride Out Neat Desktop Until It Dies

This is the easiest option, but as new versions of the Mac and Windows operating system are released it will eventually become untenable. Sooner or later something is going to stop working, and since there is no support there isn’t much you can do.

Option 2 – ScanSnap Receipt

Many users (based on my email inbox) are making the jump to the Fujitsu ScanSnap.

Modern ScanSnaps come with the ScanSnap Receipt software that lets you scan, categorize, and export receipts to Excel or Quickbooks.

Neat users will find one big feature missing in ScanSnap Receipts – reports. Unfortunately ScanSnap Receipt doesn’t have the nice reporting feature that Neat does.

Option 3 – Mariner Paperless

The closest software package to Neat is Mariner Paperless. It has receipt extraction, exporting, and reporting.

It has been quite a while since a major upgrade, but at least it is updated for macOS Sierra and Windows 10.

How To Export From Neat Desktop

If you want to get your PDFs out of Neat Desktop, here is how to do it on Mac and Windows. You can then bring those PDFs into whatever other system you decide to go with.

What Are You Planning On Doing?

Situations like this highlight one issue with using a proprietary system for storing your documents. You need to know how to get them out if you ever need to, and it will probably be annoying.

Christopher Price has an excellent writeup about what he has decided to do. Make sure you read the article and the comments.

If you’re a Neat user, have you made the jump to their cloud service? If so, how do you like it?

If you’re not making the jump, what are you going to do now that Neat Desktop is DOA?

Please leave a note in the comments and share your experience.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 53 comments

Reynaldo Williams - November 2, 2017 Reply

I hate this crap! Simply. I spent $300. for this machine in 2012. It worked wonderfully, now this. Why should I spend the money for a subscription when i do not need it. Now my scanner is nothing but paper weigh. The legacy driver is no good for any of my Macs. I hate that I ever wasted the money in this product. Bad reviews from me. Will not recommend…

    Jane Quade - November 9, 2017 Reply

    I feel exactly the same way. This is complete nonsense that we should have to pay for a subscription. My Neat Scanner is in perfect condition. I have taken great care to keep it clean. The Legacy software will not work with any of my macs either.

    This isn’t right. How can they just stop providing updated drivers?

    I’m going to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    jane

Tom - October 31, 2017 Reply

Just read Julies comments. My first comment was almost a year ago. I get it if you don’t agree with me, but do yourself a BIG favor and buy an iX500 ScanSnap. The best money I ever spent. I have configured it where it just sends all scans to one folder. ScanSnap “specialty” software is mediocre at best for my needs (boy are they missing the boat). I have gradually gotten better at Hazel thanks to Paul Kim’s amazing customer response and have written up various Hazel routines for my various needs. I just have them all sent to one folder for manual filing once a week or so. I’m sure Hazel could throw them in the exact destination file, but I’m not there yet. I also use the very reasonably priced File This, although, it seems the new subscription of Quicken could supplant that. Quicken is still buggy enough that I probably won’t go the subscription route, yet. The other thing I do is photograph all receipts when I’m out and about and deal with them manually. Quicken’s mobile app is crappy at this. There may be other mobile receipt solutions out there that are good, but I am just tired of trying them all out. I’m sure I could be much more efficiently “paperless” but I am not that gifted at a lot of this and don’t mind the extras steps I now take. Finally, the BIG wish I have is for ScanSnap to come up with a way of OCRing the document and then dating and naming and adding a dollar value. Neat could do this fairly accurately. No Brainer? Give up on Neat ASAP. Boy, what a crappy business move.

Julie - October 31, 2017 Reply

I haven’t read through all comments here (yet) but am really glad to see this group/forum/info. I’m very much looking forward to reading more about what to do with everything I’ve already scanned. I’m going to try copying pages and columns to paste them into a spreadsheet, but then there’s the report issue.

With the extremely sporadic functionality of both of my Neat usb scanners, I found a workaround recently, using my smaller Neat scanner with Image Capture on my Mac. It worked. I could just scan documents and receipts from the Neat scanner to my desktop, and then import those receipts into Neat Desk. It was great. That lasted a couple of weeks. Then I updated the OS on my computer, redownloaded the Neat drivers, and now neither of my Neat Scanners even work with Image Capture. This is a disaster for me because I’d gotten psyched about having a small, portable scanner to scan documents as well as receipts.

Here’s another system I’ve used recently for getting receipts into Neat: Lay up to 7 receipts on my hp all-in-one’s legal sized flatbed, scan once for each receipt, crop the page around each receipt (one per page), save them to a folder, then import them into a pre-designated Neat Desk folder. That’s basically what I was doing with the Neat scanners when they were malfunctioning in Neat (I think something may have happened to the lens when older, dry receipts were scanned) and stopped importing directly into the Neat software, but now they’re not even scanning with Image Capture anymore. I’m awaiting a warranty replacement for my hp all-in-one (at least hp has decent customer service, decent tech support, and sometimes decent warranty replacements), and will try scanning receipts on the flatbed. Fingers crossed that Neat will import those receipts after the High Sierra upgrade.

It’s really a shame that they couldn’t just keep going with what the original vision was.

I did use Neat Cloud for a trial period earlier this year, while scanning in checks I deposited by mobile deposit and was able to keep. There were a couple of hundred checks. The Neat Desk software wouldn’t allow me to set up a category for deposits, which I thought meant I couldn’t really set up a folder for them in Neat Desk (I’m not sure this was correct), but the Neat Cloud did. I scanned them to the Neat Cloud software and could then download them and drag them into a spreadsheet (not Neat). But though I was able to download the images to my computer, only some of the data downloaded, so I still had to go through each check and add more info to the spreadsheet.

What ultimately made me decide not to use Neat Cloud is that there was even less leeway for creating my own categories, so it limited my ability to organize the info in ways I needed to. I took this to mean that Neat had figured out a way to dole out to me my own information. This was very, very offensive. I also found it very offensive that my having spent a $400 on two of their devices wasn’t enough: now they wanted to tether me to them for life, with a subscription. NO THANKS. Not to mention the privacy issue. How do I know what they do with my financial information? I don’t.

So I’m unnerved at the idea of needing to find another system. Argh.

nate dish - October 9, 2017 Reply

Just paid $300 for a Neat connect from Staples and Im about 2 min away from boxing it up and taking it back. Extremely cumbersome and full of bugs. logs me off after 5 min and then when I try and log back on it says I dont have an account

Jon - September 28, 2017 Reply

Just to add my voice to the chorus of totally disgruntled Neat Desk users. I was a huge proponent of Neat before what is likely greed and or stupidity caused them to crash and burn.

While working I routinely avoided the large powerful and huge network scanner and printer and would use my neat desk unit instead unless it was some 100 page document. But now that I retired my volume is way down. I am not interested in paying $1.00 per page for the few things I need to scan in now. So neat cloud is a total waste of money.

Scanner has long had issues of Gray stripe, black strip or no image stripe and Neat only says they have never heard of such a thing and they don’t do repairs. Regular cleaning and 3x daily recalibration along with shut it down and restarting seems to get it going again.

So my solution is to buy a small semi portable unit such as the Brother ADS 1000W and tell everyone I ever encouraged to get a Neat to stay away!!! I predict Neat will go the way of Palm and shortly cease to exist.

You can be the best and the most expensive, or you can be the worst but the cheapest, but you can’t be both expensive and bad and expect to survive.

Tom - September 9, 2017 Reply

I gave up on Neat Cloud Subscription after probably one session of using. ScanSnap Receipt is not good enough (at least for me) and that is a REAL shame. Everyone has a different filing philosophy, and if something out there compared favorably to Neat, I might consider it. Right now, I have cobbled together a way of working that is working pretty well (though constantly undergoing minor changes). I use FileThis and Hazel and prefer keeping my info on my computer with 3 different back-ups. I have not reached Hazel’s full potential, but am working on it. I can see a possible future where I do no manual editing/changing at all. I suspect many of you more adept at Apple Script and/or Automator and more capable of working with Hazel could end up being happier than even using Neat. Remember, there was always some editing involved with Neat.

Jeremy - August 18, 2017 Reply

Agreed NEATCLOUD SUCKS!!!!

Neat was fantastic!! Right up until they decided to inflict the cloud on their customers. I cannot put into words how disgusted I am with the disaster that this company became in the space of month. ALL my accounting files dating back 6 years and across 7 different business entities were mixed together, part deleted, part simply invisible and as a result completely, 100% disorganised. The cost of fixing this mess has been in the tens of thousands of dollars. This is aside from constant software crashing on both their legacy software (which was great until they ‘updated it’) and Neatcloud. After months of trouble shooting I managed to limit crashing (not eliminate) by replacing a PC, changing physical scanners (from Neat to the excellent Fuji Scansnap) ONLY scanning a SINGLE page at a time and using a seperate folder to scan into, then drag and drop across to that once-great platform Neat. Different computers do result in different results (don’t know how, but they do) and one of my Neat scanners suffers much more from a random black stripe down the centre third of the page than others – again strange. I haven’t managed to troubleshoot anything other than ‘random’ with this black stripe issue. That’s the now atrocious products they sell. Now the ‘customer support’. I appreciate providing support to such a woeful (why are they doing this to me??!!!????) product must be soul destroying, however, trying to extract something sensible from Neat Support themselves is like dealing with an ex-spouse’s mother after a lengthy divorce. Absolutely horrific and infuriating. Nearly 18 months of wasted emails, I do admire their ability to say the words there ‘is nothing we can do’ as creatively as they do, but that is the ONLY area of expertise I can recommend Neatdesk on . You CANNOT trust their software and support AT ALL. Putting your financial life in these people’s hands is EXTREMELY dangerous. PLEASE take heed of my warning.

    Bill Marx - September 8, 2017 Reply

    I have been using this program since 2012. I loved it before they discontinued support of 5.7. Now my 5.7 will no longer launch and the cloud version lacks many of the features of 5.7. I can no longer export multipage PDF’s all at once. I have to do them one at a time which is very frustrating when I am emailing a 20 page invoice to a client and instead of exporting one attachment with 20 pages, I have to export 20 separate attachments and send them all separately. I also type up invoices and have NEAT setup as a printer. So it makes it easier then actually printing the document and having to scan it in. I could go on and on about all the things I can no longer do on the cloud platform. It is very frustrating. I called neat and talked at length with them about these and other issues and it’s like they don’t even care. How can they take a one of a kind product that was SO good and eliminate it. It baffles me. I do have a theory however. I think they are steering people to the web based platform to essentially hold their data hostage for monthly fees. The old system stored everything on my computer and backed it up to the cloud. The new platform uses the cloud exclusively. If you want to access your data you must continue paying the fees. There are many times I use the 5.7 when I’m offline and then sync it later when I get online. You can no longer do that. If you don’t have internet you don’t have neat. It’s ridiculous what they have done with this once great product. I am actively looking for a replacement.

      Peter Clark - September 9, 2017 Reply

      I am totally with you Bill. They really upset me a lot at NEAT. I have been lied to numerous by their tech support. I am in the process of trying to get Mariners (Paperless) working but it has its own set of problems. I ended up buying a Fujitsu Scanner “ScanSnap” to work with Paperless but oh well it hasn’t worked out so well yet. The software that comes with the scanner is in some ways similar to NEAT but not the same. Best of luck with this. NEAT used to be one of the best companies to deal with but now I wouldn’t even recommend to my worst enemy.

    Jeremy - October 3, 2017 Reply

    I have purchased (from the recommendation on this site – THANK YOU) Mariner Paperless. I preferred Neat for a couple of reasons, but Paperless is good enough. I hope they avoid the nonsensical issues Neat created for themselves and I can continue to use Paperless years into the future. I can’t overemphasise the disorganisation and workload that Neat caused us. Crazy, dumb STUPID management!!!

Dave - July 28, 2017 Reply

I agree with Sandy, it is virtually impossible to Sync Neat Legacy contents to the cloud. I am 29 days into the process and have been in contact with Neat Support for most of that time. Support has been in my system via remote access, off and on for the past week leaving each day at COB and restarting the next.
I have a “Cabinet” that has approximately 800 folders and 8500 documents. At this point, more than half of the documents have not made it to the cloud and the legacy software is crashing every 5 minutes and must be restarted for the Sync to continue.
Since I can’t scan while the initial Sync is incomplete, I now have a 29 day backlog of documents to scan. I am done with the arrogant attitude of an organization that knows the fatal issues with its migration process yet continues to force it customers into an unsupportable and fatally flawed migration process.
If you are considering migrating to the cloud software, take my advice: DON’T DO IT.

Matty - July 12, 2017 Reply

OK, here’s my solution. I have an older MAC 2010 Pro. I’m hooking it back up and running the old Desktop software. I hate that solution but the new Cloud service sucks and I really don’t want my stuff out there for any hacker to get to. AND I don’t trust Neat because they can’t even provide bug free software that works, and their technical support is awful. All they say is “I apologize for that”….. yeah right. Or the tell me they will give it to their programmers.

I’m through with them and if I didn’t have a fairly new Neat scanner I would switch to ScanSanp and use their software instead but it’s just too expensive to chuck my scanner and start again.

    ikomrad - July 23, 2017 Reply

    Define “expensive” – time or money? I use a Scansnap s1300i for documents including receipts without any problems. It was $250 when I bought it, but I’ve seen it for $100 on Craigslist.

    I use Evernote to store my PDF’s, it’s been a good choice since 2010, but you never know when I company will go out of business. On the bright side, documents are not usually useful after 7 years, so you can put new documents into the new system, and then keep the old system running until their usefulness expires.

      Matt - July 28, 2017 Reply

      I concur, expensive is a relative term. After pondering that for two weeks I bit the bullet and bought the iX500 ScanSnap on Amazon. Yes, it was about $450 but I’ll tell you what. This scanner absolutely rocks! I am amazed at how fast it is and look forward to getting a lot of stuff scanned. Unfortunately, I think the software has a lot to be desired. It is really hard to beat the legacy Neat desktop software. Having said that, I’m only using the ScanSnap software to OCR everything, then I export as PDFs to my file system. When I want to find something, I have another OPEN SOURCE app called DocFetcher. That program rocks and will find whatever you need on your system. I’m thinking about also importing scanned receipts into my Quicken but one step at a time.

Sandy - July 12, 2017 Reply

How do I like the Neat Cloud Service? SUCKS. The worst buggy software I have ever used.
I have been locked out of sign-in 4 times.

You cannot scan a large double sided document without the program going into la la land and you have to shut it down and it never works.

It scans something and then when I go to process the actual picture of the receipt is gone.

It gives an error and sends to Apple every time I correctly shut down the program.

It has locked up numerous times.

In short I have spent over 10 hours trying to get all my receipts into the program from the old NeatDesk and still can’t find them all.

Their Technical Support is less than stellar and they aren’t giving me the correct answers back when I ask questions or have problems.

The old software worked perfectly until I upgraded to Sierra and then it started giving error message but it still worked better than the new version on the Cloud.

It is terrible and I’m currently trying to find software that works with my Neat Scanner since it’s pretty new. I HATE IT – DON’T BUY THE SUBSCRIPTION.

Ernest rider - July 9, 2017 Reply

I am so not impressed with Neats direction and the over commercializations of paper sorting, I am thinking of doing an REST API to democratize document sorting and OCR.

POST /documents/tiff
POST /documents/pdf
POST /documents/jpg
GET /documents/sum
GET /documents/pages/20/1/2
GET /documents/pages/20/20170101/20170401/1
GET /documents/pages/20/electric/bill/1
GET /documents/links/pages/20/1
PUT /documents/backend/distributed/sort/enabled

Matt - July 8, 2017 Reply

I am in a quandary. My beloved Neat Receipts is giving me a C++ error and I have been unable to fix it. I’m with most people on this thread, I’m not a fan of the cloud based solution. I did attempt to use it last year, as I would like access to my receipts, and manuals I scanned, but I don’t like the $10/month price tag. In Neat’s defense, it’s customers like me who purchased a scanner back in 2005, got the software included, all updates have been free, all TS has been free, and I never, ever, had to update the scanner! I still have my single page, silver scanner. It’s slow but it’s great for small receipts. For larger, multi-page docs, I simply fed them through my Brother MFP and converted it’s PDF into the Neat system. Now I need to find an alternative. There is a free open source utility called DocFetcher I’ve been using for 2 years on my work system. It can be a CPU hog, but it’s really, really good at scanning documents (and Outlook email) and may work very well for exported PDFs from Neat. Thanks all for sharing your comments, suggestions and thoughts.

    Matt - July 8, 2017 Reply

    Sorry – just a clarification on my post as I don’t want to mislead anyone. DocFetcher is NOT a scanning utility. When I said scan in that context, what I really meant was that utility was good at finding search terms within documents on target folders, thus it can ‘scan’ for those search terms anywhere you designate on your hard drive for many, many different file formats, with great success, even PDF documents.

Claudia - July 3, 2017 Reply

Thanks to Brooks Duncan and Christopher Price for the great pointers and the constructive commiseration!

I’ve been a Neat user since 2008 owning both the portable and the full Scanners and going through several permutations of clients and formats. Neat has always been a little quirky but the best product I was ever able to find with good OCR, reporting, categorization for both Mac and Windows systems.
In April 2017 an attempted backup which failed due to insufficient disk space seemed to corrupt my Neat DB. I went through what many have gone through trying to get support. I purchased a support contract on June 12th and tried to open a case July 3rd and then saw the email sent June 30th that support was no longer available.

So 4 hours later I’ve been able to restore a Jan 1 2017 backup. That’s basically 6 months of scans lost but better than years lost so I’m busily exporting even as I write this.

I could go with Christopher’s Plan A as I have a MacMini that is perfect for the role but I’m just delaying the inevitable. I’m a big Evernote user so I’ve toyed with that as an option in the past because the Neat application is so temperamental but this type of information is not something I’m interested in putting in the cloud which is why I’ve never opted in to the Neat Cloud option.

So Option B is to look at Mariner Software’s Paperless which looks to be the “heir apparent”.

Option C – Something Else
Receipts also looks interesting but I really want to invest in something that supports both Mac, Windows, and IOS.
I use the ScannerPro app a lot so nothing says I could not use that and just PDF everything and establish some kind of folder structure myself. Talk about a step back! However, as Dave Bartholomew points out there is every reason to be skittish about “throwing in” with another proprietary solution.

Like Christopher Price, I wonder why Neat does not just charge for the desktop application and even the mobile app. They must know there will be resistance by many to using a cloud service and they must realize, as Brooks Duncan has pointed out here that they are forcing long time customers away.

After seeing some of the less than transparent (I’m being very generous here) actions taken by Neat I would not invest any more in that company and they can serve as a cautionary tale while I go on to another solution.

J C - June 30, 2017 Reply

Is there any way to covert my current Neat Software (Windows) files ? I am going to have to look for a NEAT replacement as well not only scanner wise but software wise as well. I put all my receipts and documents into the neat software. Several years worth

Recommendations would be great.

Thanks

JC

kathryn green - June 1, 2017 Reply

i liked the neat program and I was able to keep my paperwork straighten in ow need to keeping it up

Peter Clark - June 1, 2017 Reply

I’ve used NEAT with no problems for a long time without any major issues. Since they shoved this new software down our throats I’ve had nothing but trouble. I’ve been talking with their support group about the problems. Point in case 45minute’s this morning. Basically they don’t care about us customers at all. I’ve asked them a lot of questions and all they say, is I’lllet our programers know. They do not care about the customers at all. Actively looking for other options. .

Randy - May 17, 2017 Reply

I am so angry at the moment I do not appreciate having to subscribe to a cloud option or even a software subscription to operate something that I had purchased that did not have to have these features to operate! I am telling everyone that NEAT sucks! This is just one of those things that software and hardware companies think they can do and we let them get away with it!

    John - June 27, 2017 Reply

    I agree with you Randy. I called them today and they tried to push me to purchase their cloud subscription. I’m sorry but V5.4 was working fine for me before they pushed the upgrade to 5.7 which has unfixed bugs. I think a class action lawsuit in in order.

      Rick - July 22, 2017 Reply

      I would join dame problem years of scanning and no alternative

Jennifer - April 25, 2017 Reply

I will be completely getting away from Neat! I do not appreciate being forced to go to the cloud. I do not appreciate having to pay for a subscription. Windows and Office almost have me gone too for the same reason. With both, I am forced to pay for internet as well. I may not want to do that when I am traveling the world, running my business for anywhere.

Mahlon Stewart - April 12, 2017 Reply

I finally found my group of Neat Receipts jumpers. (1) I preferred the desktop version until it started to have bugs, and (2) completely despise the cloud-based version and I want to jump to something else. It seems Evernote might be the call, unless any of you have strong opinions otherwise. This year compiling receipts for taxes was BRUTAL with Neat. Never again.

Mike Monte - April 8, 2017 Reply

Neat is just plain getting greedy! They are pushing everything to the cloud for their subscription based software. They used to sell a really good scanner, now they are just scalping the long time users of their product. I would always recommend them, now I am looking for an alternative myself. Good luck you greedy white collar dim wits that think this a good idea! Your customers will leave and all of them when given a viable alternative will never, ever, ever, return. This ladies and gentlemen is how a once very successful company self destructs!

Georgr - March 21, 2017 Reply

I think it really sucks that they will no longer be supporting the scanner… I did not use it for receipts very often found a month-and-a-half ago I had to skin a 2468 page document…. I love tell fast that got through the nearly five reams of paper with that scanner…. it seemed as if it was getting one page per second it was just lightning fast…. I have both the portable and the desktop and ever since I got my first one I had been loyal to replacing them with a new one as needed…

As for the clown service I truly do not like it… it has been a couple of years since I last used it…. it kept wanting me to do scans with my cell phone and with poor lighting or small writing and other factors made skinny with my phone impractical and there is no way I would ever use my phone to scan a 2468 page document…. not having this scanner available is really going to affect my future in a very bad way….

Dave Bartholomew - December 9, 2016 Reply

This is a reply to John’s request for scripts used converting Neat to Eaglefiler on the Mac..

It’s been a while since I convert my Neat library and I needed to refresh my memory regarding how I eventually completed the migration of several GB of Neat data into a filesystem based archive.

I did discover a script that reads “Title” metadata inserted by Neat into the PDF and renames files according to the Title found inside the PDF. That script was packaged as a Droplet and I am including it inline below.

I’m not sure how best to include the actual droplet package file or the other Hazel scripts I created. I suppose I could upload them to my web server, but I’d rather find a way to upload them to this blog… Is this possible?

In the end I did not use the script copied below for the bulk of my migration. But since you asked, I’m providing it. Instead I created an identical folder and sub-folder structure on my Mac, mimicking the folders in my Neat repository.

Then I exported all the files from Neat, one folder at a time, into the new file system folder structure on the Mac. Neat has a feature that allows users to export an entire folder at a time. As it exports, it names the exported files (Receipts and Documents), preceding each file with either “Neat Document-Title Here.pdf” or “Neat Receipt-Title Here.pdf”.

I created a Hazel rule to rename the files exported by Neat, folder by folder, to a new name structure formated like this:
2016-12-08–Title Here.pdf

The Hazel rule also assigns a color tag and a label to each file as it is ingested, Red, @Receipt and Green, @Document for each document and receipt.

If anyone is interested in the details of the Hazel scripts I created for this migration process I’d be happy to provide the scripts and a more detailed description of how I automated the renaming of files coming out of Neat.

-Dave

————————————————-
Here’s the script, copied from a droplet package, that can look inside a PDF and use the Title property to rename the file:

— author: Martin Michel
— eMail: martin.michel@macscripter.net
— created: 22.22.2008
— version: 1.0
— requires:
— • Mac OS X 10.5 (because of Spotlight)
— tested on:
— • Mac OS X 10.5.5
— • Intel & PowerPC based Macs

property mytitle : “PDFTitle -> PDFName”

— This handler is called when the user opens the script with a double click
on run
tell me
activate
display dialog “This is an AppleScript droplet.” & return & return & “Drag and drop PDF files onto the script icon to process them.” buttons {“OK”} default button 1 with title mytitle with icon note giving up after 30
end tell
end run

— This handler is called when the user drops Finder items onto the script icon
on open finderitems
try
— searching for dropped PDF files (file name must end with ‘.pdf’)
set pdffiles to {}
repeat with finderitem in finderitems
set iteminfo to info for finderitem
if not (folder of iteminfo) and (name of iteminfo ends with “.pdf”) then
set pdffiles to pdffiles & finderitem
end if
end repeat
— no PDF files found 🙁
if pdffiles is {} then
set errmsg to “You did not drop any PDF files onto the script.” & return & return & “Please note that PDF files need to have the ‘.pdf’ suffix to be recognized by the script.”
my dsperrmsg(errmsg, “–“)
return
end if
— processing found PDF files
repeat with pdffile in pdffiles
set oldpdfname to (name of (info for pdffile))
— command for retrieving the PDF title on the command line
set command to “mdls -name kMDItemTitle ” & quoted form of POSIX path of pdffile
set output to (do shell script command)
— skipping PDF files which do not contain a PDF title
if output is not equal to “kMDItemTitle = (null)” then
— extracting the PDF title
set pdftitle to (characters 17 through -2 of output) as text
— asking the user to confirm the PDF title to be used as the new file name
set newpdfname to my getnewpdfname(oldpdfname, pdftitle)
— did the user hit the cancel button?
if newpdfname is not missing value then
if newpdfname does not end with “.pdf” then
set newpdfname to newpdfname & “.pdf”
end if
set parentfolderpath to my getparentfolderpath(pdffile as text)
— renaming the PDf file with the «mv» command
set command to “mv -n ” & quoted form of POSIX path of pdffile & space & quoted form of POSIX path of ((parentfolderpath & newpdfname) as text)
try
do shell script command
on error errmsg number errnum
my dsperrmsg(errmsg, errnum)
end try
end if
end if
end repeat
on error errmsg number errnum
— ignoring ‘User canceled’-error
if errnum is not equal to -128 then
my dsperrmsg(errmsg, errnum)
end if
end try
end open

— I am asking the user to confirm the PDF title used as the new file name
on getnewpdfname(oldpdfname, pdftitle)
try
tell me
activate
display dialog “Please choose a new name for the PDF file: ” & return & return & oldpdfname default answer pdftitle buttons {“Cancel”, “Rename”} default button 2 with title mytitle
set dlgresult to result
end tell
set usrinput to text returned of dlgresult
if usrinput is “” then
my getnewpdfname(oldpdfname, pdftitle)
else if (usrinput contains “:”) or (usrinput contains “/”) then
set errmsg to “File names must not contain a colon ‘:’ or slash ‘/’ character.”
my dsperrmsg(errmsg, “–“)
my getnewpdfname(oldpdfname, pdftitle)
else
return usrinput
end if
on error errmsg number errnum
return missing value
end try
end getnewpdfname

— I am returning the parent folder path of a given item path
on getparentfolderpath(itempath)
set olddelims to AppleScript’s text item delimiters
set AppleScript’s text item delimiters to “:”
set itemcount to (count text items of itempath)
set lastitem to the last text item of itempath
if lastitem = “” then
set itemcount to itemcount – 2 — folder path
else
set itemcount to itemcount – 1 — file path
end if
set parentfolderpath to text 1 thru text item itemcount of itempath & “:”
set AppleScript’s text item delimiters to olddelims
return parentfolderpath
end getparentfolderpath

— I am displaying error messages to the user (hopefully only few)
on dsperrmsg(errmsg, errnum)
tell me
activate
display dialog “Sorry, an error occured:” & return & return & errmsg & return & “(” & errnum & “)” buttons {“OK”} default button 1 with icon stop with title mytitle giving up after 30
end tell
end dsperrmsg

Colleen - December 7, 2016 Reply

I’ve been using NeatDesk since 2010 and have loved it. I file all scanned documents in searchable PDF format on my hard drive which is backed up outside by Carbonite.
I do not use the Neat file structure but use instead Copernic Desk Top Search to serach within my own file structure.

This has worked very well until Neat stopped support and Windows 10 was installed. Also Adobe reader is now not efficient since I was forced to install Adobe DC.

I’m looking at getting a Snapscan scanner.
What should I do about Adobe Reader?

Now I receive a lot of invoices as PDFs that are not searchable.
Can I transfer emailed PDFs to a Snapcan folder, convert them and have them named automatically? and saved to the hard drive?

Is as easy to scan/save a paper document as a searchable PDF to the hard drive as it was with Neat/

Signed

Struggling To Keep Up

Eleln - November 23, 2016 Reply

I have been really frustrated with Neat in the cloud. The migration of my desktop receipts was incomplete, and I have specific problems that I want to get addressed, but since their support is available only during the work day and work week, I never have time to sit down with it and call them. They will set up a call back, but the one time I booked a call I happened to step away from my desk and missed it, and then got busy again. I have been using the ScanSnap receipt program instead, and I don’t like it quite as much, but it came with the xi500 and it’s easy, so I think I’m going to stick with it. Some of the comments above are helpful with respect to migrating my Neat data, so thanks for that!

My use is simply for personal receipts – but after a recent theft of my son’s backpack with computer, etc., having copies of the purchase receipts was invaluable to recovering under insurance.”

Finally, I’d be interested to learn how others use Evernote to store receipts – the ability of the ScanSnap program to extract key data and put it in a spreadsheet format, together with an image of the receipt, seems hard to replicate in Evernote.

John - November 17, 2016 Reply

After a two year experiment with ShoeBoxed (and much frustration and forever lost receipts) I came upon the NeatWorks software. During the same time I started developing a Filemaker Pro Database to handle scans and documents. I decided to go with the NeatWorks option because it was giving me what I needed. I will likely continue to use it until it stops working.

I think Neat’s decision to stop development is twofold: 1st, it’s much harder to develop a cloud solution AND a Windows and Mac solution. 2nd, by converting users to a cloud solution they control they can put you on a monotized subscription model. I don’t want documents in the cloud period!

To answer the question as to why ShoeBoxed was such a disaster… It seemed really attractive to be able to put all my receipts in a prepaid mail envelope and let them do the scanning then later I could import images and reports into my financial programs. However after trying it I discovered some major deal breakers.

For starters, I’d send receipts to the them. They advertised a 24 hour turn around on processing for the executive plan I was at the time subscribed to. That never happened. Turn around times were often more than 3 days.

Some scans would be blank. I was probably the customer that got them to add a button to re-scan documents that were problematic. Problem is there is no audit trail as far as the specific scan was concerned so I never saw those receipts again and they never re-appeared. I *was* getting my receipts back. (They have an option where they dispose of them instead of sending them back), but imagine you send out a months worth of receipts in an envelope and the envelope gets returned weeks later and there you sit with several envelops with hundreds of receipts and no way to determine which receipt was the blank one. The only way to do that would be to check hundreds of receipts and then figure out which ones were missing.

Their GUI was extremely clunky to view, annotate, and download images. If you downloaded an excel report, you had all the payees and amounts but all the images were listed by URLs and your only choice was to download each image separately. There was no button on their site to “Download All Scanned Images”. So it meant that if you only wanted to let them do the scanning then remove all your stuff and store it locally – you had to do it record by record.

Their OCR had a 60 to 70 percent accuracy rate so often you needed to correct the details for each scan. Very tedious. I complained about this repeatedly and they would come back with “Hey! We said there’s about an 85% accuracy rate. Some scans will have problems” After voicing to them several times that since I was paying for an Executive plan I expected better accuracy and that I would assume since it was financial documents most people assume there’s a high level of accuracy they finally admitted that many had voiced the same complaints and they were working on it. This was after several emails where they said they were having problems with employees being accurate. To me there was a simple solution. Have a second team check the receipts.

So I started working on a Filemaker Pro Solution that would automate handling the scans and I have that worked out but the Neat Software was working well and since I had to do it myself and edit the records anyway it made more sense for me to use that know that there were options for reporting and exporting. I have still continued to work on the Filemaker Database because I see I will eventually have to move to it in order to get the kind of control I want over my Financial documents. There are some others also working on Filemaker Solutions for documents that are very nicely done. In the meantime I will continue working with the Neat software and mapping the database schema so I can do an import straight across to Filemaker when the time comes.

Someone else mentioned SQLite so I thought it might be helpful to mention that most IOS apps use SQLite as the database engine (not sure if all of them do but it’s likely), so if you are looking to develop your own solution you might want to brush up on your SQLite chops.

Brooks: Perhaps you should consider a file area where people can upload AppleScripts and other useful utilities they have created?

    Juliet - February 21, 2017 Reply

    John, I would pay for a copy of your FileMaker database template! I’m only fair-to-middling at FileMaker but am desperate for a Neat replacement.

Dave Bartholomew - November 9, 2016 Reply

You’ve struck a nerve with NeatWorks…

I’ve been using NeatWorks since about 2007. I started out on the PC and migrated to the MAC late in the last decade. But last year I began looking for an alternative. Neat stopped supporting the version that ran on my Mac several years ago because my Neat scanner was an older model. They didn’t include support for the older scanners with the newer software. So I was stuck using an old version. But for a long time, Neat was, well pretty neat.

Last year I scoured the inter webs looking for and evaluating alternatives to NeatWorks. I knew I wanted a Fujitsu Scansnap scanne. I’ve used Fujitsu scanners at work and they rock. I looked at Evernote and Mariner Paperless Office. I also looked at DevonThink. Each had some nice features, but each tied me to yet another proprietary document storage solution. Then I discovered EagleFiler. The advantage with EagleFiler is that is uses the native directory file structure and tagging already part of MAC OS. And it integrates well with Spotlight search. It does employ a SQLLite database for storing some metadata. But the files remain intact and independent on the filesystem.

It took me a few weeks of experimenting before I was convinced that EagleFiler was a better solution for me than Evernote. I gave them both high marks. Along about that time Evernote announced a change in their free plan, where multi-device support would no longer be offered for the free accounts. I had planned on purchasing an Evernote license, but this announcement raised my awareness, that at any time, the solutions that employ proprietary storage technologies would always be subject to changes that could rock my paperless world. So I became more focused on a solution without handcuffs, where the files would be stored in my file system.

My solution today consists of EagleFiler and Hazel. Routine files are scanned via ScanSnap and OCR’ed by ABBYY FineReader. The OCR and scan quality far surpass NeatWorks. I’ve refined my workflow so that it is really simple. Most files that I receive on a recurring basis like bank statements are scanned, automatically renamed, re-dated so the file creation date is changed to be the same as the date listed on the statement. Then the files are tagged, imported into EagleFiler, and EagleFiler is reindexed by a Hazel script so the newly imported file shows up in the New file listing. Finally, the original file is deleted from the holding folder. Separate Hazel rules are defined to detect unique character strings like account numbers, and then process a additional rules for each document source like PG&E, bank statements, credit card statements, cell phone statements etc.

This all works quite well. I’ve created a script that can be duplicated and modified for each new recurring document type. There really aren’t too many, just a dozen or so (so far). And for the one-of files that don’t justify a dedicated Hazel rule, I just import using the hot key for EagleFiler. (Fn Option F1). I select the document by clicking on it in the folder and hit the hot key. A dialog box pops up and I manually assign the file location, rename the file and add some tags. Then once in EagleFiler I use a menu tool to change the file creation date to a back-dated date read from the file. (I like to keep the file creation dates equal to the actual date the file was created, rather than the date I opened the mail, or downloaded an online statement.

Many NeatWorks users may be interested to know that MAC users can employ Hazel to migrate content from the NeatWork document storage en masse. It took me about a week of tinkering with Hazel rules, but I was able to export all my files, rename them automatically, and import them into a parallel file structure that mimicked the folders I had set up previously in NeatWorks.

Neat names files with GUID file names. But it stores meaningful filenames inside the files in the Acrobat meta properties. I was able to create a custom script that reads the meta properties in the PDF files, and renames and dates the files based on the intrinsic values found within each file.

Now I’m free and somewhat future proof… No more dependency on proprietary file storage technologies. I considered moving the entire corpus of documents to encrypted cloud storage. I looked at Dropbox and Transporter. But for now my documents are stored on my hard drive and backed up via TimeMachine and Crashbox. I’ve also since invested in a Drobo redundant disk array. Beware if you walk down the paperless road I’ve traveled, that if you someday decide to move your EagleFiler repository to another disk, all of your Hazel rules will need to be updated. (Ask me how I know this).
I don’t often have a need for remote file access. And If I did, I’d consider Evernote more strongly. But for me EagleFiler is a good, cheap and fast solution.

Hope this helps some Neat users looking for a way out.

-Dave Bartholomew
Silicon Valley

    Tom - November 9, 2016 Reply

    Really good write up Dave, thanks.

    David - November 13, 2016 Reply

    Hello….Great feedback and thank you for sharing your findings.

    Is there a Windows Solution to EagleFiler? I was also a Neat Desktop user, and really don’t want to use that anymore, or even use another proprietary software. I would love something like EagleFiler, that works on Windows 10.

    Thank you,

    David

      John - November 17, 2016 Reply

      David; Yes there is a Windows solution. Filemaker Pro has a document database template. Free. You can download a demo of Filemaker Pro and then you can try the free templates they include.

    John - November 17, 2016 Reply

    Neat names files with GUID file names. But it stores meaningful filenames inside the files in the Acrobat meta properties. I was able to create a custom script that reads the meta properties in the PDF files, and renames and dates the files based on the intrinsic values found within each file.

    Dave – care to share that script? I have have several Keyboard Maestro Macros and AppleScripts I’d be happy to share with anyone. (Though they are customized to my financial institutions help is only a post away in the Keyboard Maestro Forum).

      Dave Bartholomew - December 7, 2016 Reply

      I haven’t revisited this thread for a while and just noticed your request. I’ll look up the scripts and reply in a day or so. These are hazel scripts and some of them use embedded JavaScript or shell scripts as I recall.

        Dave Sadler - June 7, 2017 Reply

        Dave,

        I just found this thread through a google search on Neat Deskworks vs….. I am also interested in your scripts, and am replying to hopefully float this back into your inbox 🙂

        Thank you for doing the heavy lifting and sharing.
        Dave.

          Dave Sadler - June 7, 2017 Reply

          Apparently I am not used to non-linear messaging. Please ignore my plea for scripts 🙂

    Jay - May 13, 2017 Reply

    Great writeup Dave. I’m with everyone else on the Neat debacle. I’ve been using a Scansnap S1500 with Neat desk on my Mac for many years with no troubles..until now. Its crazy. There are literally thousands of people who are literally begging to pay Neat to continue development and support of the Neat desk product. Unbelievable Neat would turn away from that. Anyway I implement an offsite cloud backup to Crashplan and local backup to my desktop vis Scansnaps 2nd file storing option, Time Machine, and Zip Drive of the Neat Library database file (I only have one Library).

    So now what? As this article and others state there’s very few options. I’m currently test driving Mariner Paperless and EagleFiler. Maybe its me but Paperless is a far cry from Neat desk. Maybe Paperless3 will get it where it needs to be for me to use it. And I so wanted it to be as good as Neat. After reading your article I tried EagleFiler. I absolutely LOVE the fact that this method is non-proprietary but I must admit I really like the GUI part of the Neat database. It was just cleaner to me. But I will keep test driving EagleFiler as there may be a lot more to it than I have found. Thanks again.

Irwin - November 9, 2016 Reply

I got rid of Neat several years ago because I thought it was “clunky”. I found many functions of Neat to be obtuse. I took your advice and bought a Fujitsu ix500 and have used it for receipts with no problems and have also used it for scanning monthly statements into Hazel which you helped me set up the rules. And I thank you again for your assistance. Could not have done it without your help!

    Tom - November 9, 2016 Reply

    Irwin, how do you manage your receipts after scanning? You should have a look at FileThis for Statements. I am working on getting Statements OCR’d after FileThis, then moved to a folder. Should have it figured out by 2018 or so. I should add that Paul Kim at Hazel is great and always responds to inquiries. I’m the problem!

    Also, Irwin: Neat, How can you be so obtuse? : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dakxwoVV7yM

Tom - November 9, 2016 Reply

I was a NEAT user (with a iX500 ScanSnap) and, with a few exceptions, really liked it, and quite a bit more than ScanSnap Receipt. I did try the NEAT Cloud for 1 month and quickly decided to quit it. It was so long ago, I can’t remember the reasons (this is NOT a recent decision on Neat’s part), but super slow processing comes to mind. I think this is a colossal blunder on Neat’s part, but what do I know? I am in the midst of developing a new paperless workflow filing system, but I guess I am one of the 3 people on the planet that can’t seem to make Hazel do exactly what I want it to (dates are killing me, highlighting is just not working for me—I think Hazel is probably great and I am jinxed!). I also use File This and, thanks to Brooks, PDFPenPro. I am happy to use an old fashioned Desktop Folder based organizing system (with multiple back-ups). I use the newest version of Quicken which lets you attach PDFs to transactions and then use Reports in Quicken.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - November 9, 2016 Reply

    Thanks, yeah you’re right it is not a recent decision. It’s just all of a sudden a flood of people are emailing me. Maybe because of the Windows 10/Sierra release?

Jessica - November 9, 2016 Reply

I have a Neat Recepits scanner, but was never a fan of the software. I use Evernote to store everything, and find it indispensable thanks largely to the great search functionality and integration with other apps and services. It is a staple in my paperless workflow.

Steven Buehler - November 2, 2016 Reply

Brother offers BR-Receipts for free with some of their scanners or for a nominal one-time cost ($9.99 or $19.99, can’t remember) without one of their scanners. Started using it with a DSMobile 920DW I bought that scans to SD card in the unit or to PC via USB cable.

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