Jeffrey Schoenberger

Paperless Mac


As you may know, the favorite desktop scanner series at Affinity is the ScanSnap series from Fujitsu. This series of scanners is generally excellent. I have a predecessor of the ScanSnap iX500 on my desk at the office and at home. I recently setup a family member with the ScanSnap S1300i, which she thoroughly enjoys. Overall, the ScanSnap line of products is excellent and works well with a Mac. Highly recommended!


Irrespective of which ScanSnap model you purchase, you receive a set of software applications that run on either a PC or Mac; which is great for a mixed environment and was not the case in the past, where you had to choose between a PC or Mac hardware/software bundle. The bundled software includes the ScanSnap Organizer, which acts as “filing cabinet” software for all of your scans, a business card-specific scanning program called CardMinder, a receipt scanning program called ScanSnap Receipt, and ABBYY FineReader, an optical character recognition program, that turns scanned PDF documents into editable Word documents.

The bundled software alone is quite nice. But, since the scanner is just producing PDF or JPG files, you can use whatever software you prefer to manage the files the scanner creates. Let me recommend two Mac-specific ones.

The first one is Yep from Ironic Software. It is available through the Mac App Store for $27. Like the ScanSnap Organizer, Yep acts as a filing cabinet for your PDFs; but only as a viewer. On the backend, Yep is just reading the folder structure you tell it to look at. So, for example, I could have a perfectly human readable folder structure with a top-level folder called “Bills”, and within that folder, separate folders for “AT&T”, “Time Warner”, “electric”, and “water”. While this folder structure makes sense in itself, it is difficult to quickly search or to locate words within the text of a PDF. Yep takes care of that by reading in the PDFs from your existing folder structure, letting you add tags and search text within the PDFs for quick queries.

A second “filing cabinet” Mac app for PDFs is Devon Technologies’ DEVONthink Pro Office, which retails for $150. The big price jump from Yep gets you a program that stores and indexes not only PDFs, but pretty much any type of document, image, or web link that you throw into it. DEVONthink Pro Office is really very much like a filing cabinet in that it gathers all information and notes related to a particular item – say a case or research project – in one place for easy reference. Furthermore, unlike Yep, DEVONthink creates its own database of documents that you import, which is great from a portability standpoint of copying one database file and opening it on another system, but makes it more difficult to maintain a program-agnostic folder structure. In many ways, it is like a desktop-based, non-syncing version of Evernote, which, by the way, also supports ScanSnap Scanners.

Whichever way you go – the free bundle, Yep, DEVONthink, or Evernote – the ScanSnap series of desktop scanners is a great way to make your office and home paperless, and those former piles of paper quickly accessible from your Mac’s keyboard.