Tag Archives: windows

Create Fillable PDF Forms With Nitro

Tax Forms This WayThis past weekend, I finally implemented Mike Vardy’s excellent 1Password Emergency Kit so that if I get hit by a bus, my wife will know how to get into all our stuff.

Mike’s kit is a helpful PDF form, but since I have the handwriting of a four year old, I prefer to type it. Unfortunately, this PDF is not a fillable PDF, so I fired up Nitro Pro 9 for Windows to fill it out.

Add Form Fields

Just open up the PDF in Nitro and hit the Forms tab at the top.

Then hit the Text Field button and you can either draw the text field wherever you want to enter text, or double-click on the form.

Nitro Add Form Fields

If you need to, you can adjust the look of the text field by adjusting the Properties tab under Form Tools.

Nitro Form Properties

Rinse and repeat for each field you want to add to the form. It doesn’t have to be just text boxes. You can add check boxes and any other type of form element you’d like.

Once you get started, it goes pretty quickly.

Fill Out The Form

Hit the Select tool on the left, and now you can go through and fill out your fancy new form fields.

Nitro Fill Out Form Fields

You can then save the PDF or print it out.

Dear Nitro

In case you are reading this, it would be awesome to have a feature similar to Create Form Fields For Page in PDFpen Pro for the Mac. It goes through a document and automatically creates form fields where it detects them on the page. It is pretty awesome.

In the meantime, if you want to know more about creating forms in Nitro, they put together this handy video.

I like to fill out forms on my computer whenever possible. If they’re not already a fillable PDF, it is easy to make them that way with something like Nitro on Windows or PDFpen on the Mac. Do you fill out forms on your computer? How do you do it?

(Photo by Quinn Dombrowski)

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Cool OneNote and Surface Pro 3 Video

Sorcerer SupremeI haven’t used a Microsoft Surface myself, but I know it has its fans, as does Microsoft OneNote.

Windows users have used OneNote on a tablet for years and years. I remember someone demoing it to me at Gnomedex 2005.

The new Surface Pro 3 looks like a pretty cool device, and I came across this very enthusiastic video from Microsoft: Magic tricks with OneNote and Surface Pro 3, which I have embedded below.

The way that the hardware, software, and pen work together is impressive. I’m going to have to head down to a Microsoft Store to play with this.

Any of you using a Surface and OneNote together? What do you use it for?

(Photo by JD Hancock)

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ABBYY PDF Transformer+ Review

PDF Transformer+I’ve long been a fan of ABBYY’s OCR software, so I was interested when I saw they’ve released a more fully-featured PDF editing suite. It’s called ABBYY PDF Transformer+, and the company threw me a review copy to check out.

It is Windows only, so Mac readers are going to have to sit this one out.

PDF Transformer+

You can see from the home screen that you can open a file (or files) or scan an image in. You can the convert it to a number of different formats.

Despite the name, PDF Transformer+ is more than just a PDF converter. It will let you edit, manipulate, annotate, redact, and OCR PDF documents.

Convert To PDF

I scanned a document to JPG and then used the ABBYY program to convert it to a searchable PDF. I intentionally used a lower-quality scanner than my ScanSnap to see how it would handle it. I scanned to JPG at 300dpi.

When you import a file, it takes you to the main work screen.

PDF Transformer+ Work screen

As you can see below, you have many options when it comes to conversion. I chose the first: Searchable PDF Document.

PDF Transformer+ Convert

To give you an idea of quality, here are the files:

Merge And Manipulate PDFs

You can open multiple files and merge them together. You can change the order, remove files, and even apply OCR to the resulting scan.

PDF Transporter Merge

When you have a file open with multiple pages, you can move the pages around, remove pages that you don’t need anymore, and directly add pages from a scanner or other file right into the document that you are working on.

PDF Transporter+ Manipulate Pages

OCR Accuracy

I ran another article through the PDF Transformer+’s searchable text conversion process. It is the same file that I used in my old OCR Smackdown post if you want to compare the results to other applications.

Here is the relevant section of the article:

PDF Transformer+ OCR Text

Let’s see how PDF Transformer+ did:

The spreadsheet has become the virtual “slide rale” for CMAs. It’s used for everything from preliminary strategic plans to financial statements. As with any familiar method, it finds its way into numerous situations where better alternatives are available, most significantly in its widespread use as a de facto reporting tool.
The appeal ofthe spreadsheet as the quickest way to get a report out is not hard to appreciate. “Excel is probably the most comfortable environment for a lot of financial professionals,” Alok Ajmera, vice-president, professional services with Mississauga, Ont.-based Prophix Software, says. “There’s a very little learning curve, you can effectively do whatever you want with the data, and it works fairly well in smaller organizations.”
Periodic and complex reporting in processes like revenue management or cost management, however, is where the spreadsheet model really starts to break down.

Other than “slide rale”, not bad at all. It is rare to get 100% accuracy with OCR.

Annotate PDFs

You can mark up, annotate, stamp, and redact PDF documents. You can highlight text, make notes, and create your own stamps. It does Bates Numbering for you lawyer types.

PDF Transformer+ Annotate

One feature I could not find is the ability to create a stamp from your own image. This can be handy for things like scanned signatures.

Edit PDF Text

PDF Transformer+ gives you the ability to edit the text in a PDF, but what you can do depends on the type of PDF you are working with.

If you are working with a PDF that has been downloaded from the web or generated from a word processing program, you can edit the text in the document on a line-by-line basis.

PDF Transformer+ Edit Regular Text

If you have a scanned document, the best you can do is put a text box or eraser over top of the image. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell you can’t directly edit the text in a scanned document like you can with Acrobat or Nitro.

PDF Transformer+ Edit Image

Convert

As you saw earlier, you can convert a image or PDF document to a number of different formats including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, EPUB, text, RTF, CSV, and OpenOffice.

PDF Transformer+ Export

As a test, I converted the document I scanned at the beginning of the article to Word. Let’s see how it did.

PDF Transformer+ Word Conversion

Pretty good, and I was able to edit the text in the document. Here is the file if you want to take a look.

Scanning

On the home button, there is a big fat Scan button. If you have a TWAIN-compliant scanner, you can scan from right within PDF Transformer+.

If you have, for example, a Fujitsu ScanSnap which is not TWAIN compatible, not a problem. You can set up a ScanSnap Manager Profile to scan directly to PDF Transformer+, or you can use the ScanSnap Folder functionality to access the scanner.

PDF Transformer+

I like PDF Transformer+ for working with PDFs on Windows. It is well designed, and from my testing seems fast and accurate. It is $79.99 USD, which is a heck of a lot less than Acrobat.

You can buy it directly from ABBYY, and if you use that link you’ll be buying me a samosa from my favourite place on 41st Avenue (thank you).

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Search For Documents In Lucion FileCenter

FileCenterWhen Windows users ask me about document management software, I almost always point them to FileCenter by Lucion. I can’t think of one person who hasn’t liked it.

It can be simple to use and it can be extremely powerful, and searching for files in FileCenter is a perfect example. I get questions from time to time on how to do it, so here is a primer.

Which Search Are You Using?

FileCenter can use either the built-in Windows Search or its own custom search. FileCenter search may be a bit more powerful, but in my opinion it is generally easiest to use Windows Search.
To see and choose which search you are using, click on the Search tab.

FileCenter Search Bar

Then click the Settings button.

FileCenter Search Button

Then in the Search menu, see what you have set in Default Search Engine.

FileCenter Search Engine

Problems Using Windows Search?

If you have it set to Windows Search but you can’t find any words, you may have a problem with the PDF indexing on your computer. It is very common.

See this blog post about fixing Windows PDF Search, which will likely help.

Set Up FileCenter Advanced Search

If you want more power than what Windows Search provides, you need to do some setup.

First follow the instructions above but set Default Search Engine to Advanced Search.

Enable Indexing

The first thing to do is turn on Indexing for your Cabinets. This may have already been done, but it is good to check.

In FileCenter, click on Tools and then Settings.

FileCenter Tools Settings

Next, click on Advanced Indexing on the left and make sure the following is set:

  • Enable Auto Indexer is checked
  • Run indexer every n hours is selected
  • Run every has a reasonable number of hours set. Maybe 1–3?
  • All your relevant cabinets are selected in the Cabinets to be Auto Indexed box. If you want FileCenter to be able to find documents in your Inbox, check Inbox. If not, leave it unchecked.

Hit OK

Do An Initial Index

An index is an internal FileCenter thing where it keeps track of your documents and their contents. Since we have enabled auto-indexing, it should take care of it for you, but to kick it off, let’s do an initial run.
Click on the Tools near the top, and then choose Advanced Indexing Options….

Tools Advanced Indexing

Then check the Cabinets you want to index and hit Start Indexer. Once you do this, search should be ready to roll.

Searching For Documents

To find a document in FileCenter, you want to click the Search tab at the top.

The options that you have to search with depends on which search engine you are using (Windows Search or Advanced Search), and you can choose which method you want at the time of searching.

You can enter a keyword in the Search for box, and it will search by file name or contents. You can control what types of files are searched for and which Cabinets are used to search.

FileCenter Search

Remember, if you are using Advanced Search, FileCenter will only search the cabinets that you have selected to be indexed. If it is not finding something that you think it should, that is the first place to check.

You can also search for files in a specific folder. When you are looking at a folder in the Manage view, click the Search button in the top-right corner of the folder pane. You can then do a quick search.

FileCenter Search Folder

That is probably more than you ever wanted to know about Search in FileCenter.

As with many things in technology, it can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Check the Help for more tricks you can do such as “fuzzy search”, stemming, and having a centralized search index for your whole company.

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Nitro Pro 9 Review – Windows PDF Productivity

Nitro Pro 9There are many good things about Microsoft Windows, but the ability to work with PDF documents is not one of them. You can view documents easily enough, but you need to look elsewhere if you want to actually do something useful with them.

A while ago, awesome DocumentSnap reader Sherri-Lee Mathers from Balsam Way Bookkeeping turned me on to a program that she relies on for her paperless practice: Nitro Pro.[1]

It looked great, so I decided to annoy the Nitro folks on Twitter until they agreed to hook me up with a review copy of Nitro Pro 9 to check out.

Nitro 9

What Nitro Does

Nitro Pro is an application for working with PDFs. They call it “the official PDF solution for productivity”. I’m not sure who hands out that designation, but it is definitely an application that lets you do almost anything with PDF documents.

You can create & combine PDFs, edit them, make them searchable with OCR, sign them, mark them up, and upload them to the cloud.

If you are a home user and all you ever do with PDFs is view them and print them out, then Nitro is probably not something you need to go paperless.

However, if you are a Windows user that manipulates PDFs, converts them, and generally needs to make them work for you, Nitro is definitely worth a look.

Nitro Pro 9 has many features, but I am just going to pick out a few of them that I think would be handy for going paperless.

Compare PDFs

If you have two PDFs, you can quickly compare either the text of the document or the general look. It will then show you where the differences are.

I marked up a document and changed some of the text (more on that later), and the compare tool found all my changes and gave a summary.

Nitro 9 Compare

If you are someone who needs to compare different documents, this tool could be worth the price all on its own.

Export Documents

Just because you are working with a PDF doesn’t mean that you want the end result to be in PDF format.

Nitro 9 Export

There is an export bar that lets you export to a number of formats including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, RTF, and you can extract the text out of a PDF and save it as a plain text document.

Export To Word

I want to specifically mention exporting to Word. I have worked with many tools over the years that try to convert a PDF to a Word document. Most of the times the results has been “OK” at best and disastrous at worst.

Nitro does the best job that I have seen at converting PDF documents to Word. I don’t know what Elven magic they have going on in the background, but in my experience the results has been excellent.

Nitro 9 Word Export

Export To Evernote

There is an Export To Evernote option that will take the current PDF and open it up in the Evernote local client. Handy if you want to save things to Evernote that you are working with.

Redact Sensitive Information

A PDF can have information that you don’t want others to see. Many people don’t realize that even if you use an annotation tool to “block out” that information (for example, a Social Security number or credit card number), it may still exist in the PDF.

A Redaction tool gives the ability to permanently wipe out the sensitive information. This is helpful if you are going to be sharing the PDF with someone, or if you want to remove private data before uploading the PDF to a cloud service.

In this example, I want to go 1984-style and wipe out the name Paul J Bowman from the company history. I have highlighted the name with the Redaction Tool. It is now marked for redaction.

Nitro 9 Redaction Tool

I can send the PDF to someone who needs to approve that redaction, or I can Apply it myself.

Nitro 9 Redacted

The information is now permanently removed from the PDF.

If I want to be extra sure that I have redacted everything, I can do a Search and Redact. It will then go through the whole document and remove everything that matches my search.

Nitro 9 Search and Redact

Sign PDFs

I have posted about this on DocumentSnap many times, but there are few things more annoying than needing to sign a document and having to print it out, sign it, then fax it or scan and email it back.

Nitro allows you to capture your signature either by scanning a piece of paper, capturing it with your webcam, or it will generate a handwritten signature using a QuickSign font.

Nitro Capture Digital Signature

If you want to be even more secure, Nitro can apply a proper digital signature using a certificate.

Visual File Combination

If you have to build a PDF out of a number of other documents, the Visual File Combination palette can be very helpful. Just add PDF documents and move around the order.

Nitro Visual File Combination

When you have it how you want it, you can create the PDF and it will all be nicely merged.

Nitro Cloud

Nitro has released their Nitro Cloud service, which allows you to take your documents online. I don’t have much to say on this yet as I haven’t played around with it, so watch for a future post.

What About Acrobat?

If you were to compare one other piece of software to Nitro, it would probably be Adobe Acrobat. How does Nitro stack up?

The first comparison is cost: Nitro costs half as much. It also hasn’t become as bloated as Acrobat has become (in my opinion).

Nitro has made an almost-certainly-biased comparison chart between Nitro Pro 9 and Acrobat XI.

My take: if you have already purchased Adobe Acrobat or it came with your scanner, you probably don’t need to go out and buy Nitro (unless you hate Acrobat and want an alternative of course).

If you are looking for a PDF editing program and you don’t need some feature that only Acrobat Standard or Pro has, I would go with Nitro.

My Thoughts

I have been thoroughly impressed with Nitro Pro 9. It does more than what I have outlined above – in particular I’ve found the PDF editing features excellent – and the price is half that of its biggest competitor.

Nitro Pro 9 retails for $139.99. If I were a Windows user and worked with PDFs on a daily basis, Nitro would be my main PDF productivity application.

Have you used Nitro? How do you like it?


  1. You can read more about how Sherri-Lee uses Nitro here.  ↩

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File Juggler: “Hazel For Windows”?

FileJugglerIf there is one tool that I can’t seem to shut up about, it is Hazel. It makes it really easy and efficient to process paperless documents[1]. The only problem is that Hazel is a Mac app, and I have struggled to find a Windows equivalent.

There are many Windows apps out there that will move files around automatically, but I have not found one with the key ability to move and rename files based on the content of a searchable PDF.

Fortunately, I received an email from Simon at Bitvaerk, and I begged him to add this ability into his new tool: File Juggler.

I am not sure how he will feel about me calling File Juggler “Hazel for Windows”, but that is how I think of it. Like Hazel, File Juggler can do many things with your files, but I will be focusing on using it to process your paperless documents.

Create Rules

The way File Juggler works is you tell it to watch a folder (or folders), and create rules that tell it to take some sort of action when something happens in the folders that meets those rules.

FileJuggler Rules

Watch A Folder

Create a rule, and tell File Juggler to watch some folders.

FileJuggler Watch Folder

Tell It What To Look For

Next, create your rule. What is it you want File Juggler to watch for? One nice touch is that as you are building your rule, it will show you a list of the files that matches it.

FileJuggler If Section

Here are the conditions that it currently supports:

FileJuggler If Conditions

Tell It What To Do

Once you’ve told File Juggler which files to look for, you can then tell it which actions to take.

FileJuggler Actions

There are some variables you can insert, which is helpful when you are renaming files.

FileJuggler Variables

You can see a whole list of the actions that you can take on the File Juggler page.

A Work In Progress

File Juggler has come a long way since I first started playing around with it back in January.

There are still a few glitches – for example sometimes it doesn’t pick up some text from a certain file where it will pick up other text from that same file (so there is usually some text you can work off of) (This is much improved now), and sometimes it takes a while for a rule to kick off. The latter might be because my Windows computer is a piece of junk though.

Simon, the developer, is very responsive and is constantly improving the tool, so I am confident these will get sorted out.

You can download File Juggler from their site and give it a try. If you decide to purchase it, it is $25.

If you’ve tried it (or another “Hazel for Windows” tool), please leave a comment and let me know how it works out for you.


  1. Heck, I even did a webinar on the subject.  ↩

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Video: How To Control Windows Search

Vancouver Convention CentreWindows Search in newer versions of Microsoft Windows works pretty well, but sometimes it is may not be picking up files that you think it should, or perhaps you want to tell it not to search for some files or types of files.

This video shows you how to control the Indexing Options for Windows Search in Windows 7.

By the way, if you are finding that searching for the contents of PDFs is not working, you may have the dreaded 64-bit Windows 7 PDF Search problem.

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

(Photo by ecstaticist)

This video on controlling Windows Search’s Indexing Options is part of a series of quick videos on paperless tips and topics. View more in the series here.

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Video: Use the Windows 7 Send To Menu To Speed Up Copying To Dropbox

Windows 7 Context MenuThis video on copying files to Dropbox in Windows 7 is part of a series of quick videos on paperless tips and topics. View more in the series here.

There are two things that you need to know about this video:

  1. The tip itself is completely ripped off from this CNET article by Ed Rhee
  2. It could really apply to SugarSync, not just Dropbox, or any other folder on your computer.

If you have a Windows folder that you are constantly copying documents to, you can add it to your Send To menu for quick right-click access. This video shows you how.

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

(Photo by mikes rite)

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Video: Find All PDFs On Your Windows Computer

This video on displaying all PDFs in Windows is part of a series of quick videos on paperless tips and topics. View more in the series here.

Sometimes if you are looking for a document, as a last resort it can be helpful to just get a big list of all the documents on your computer.

This video takes you through using Windows Search to find all the PDFs on your Windows computer.

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

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Video: Use Windows 7 Snap To Compare Documents

This video on Windows 7 Snap is part of a series of quick videos on paperless tips and topics. View more in the series here.

Finally, my new MacBook Air is here and I am back up and running with making videos.

Today’s is a quick tip on how you can easily compare and move around windows using Windows 7′s Snap functionality. As a bonus, I threw in Peek and Shake as well.

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

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