Stack of Papers

Finding a way to organize all the receipts, business cards, and other papers you collect can be difficult. Many people manage their finances and address books on their computers, along with other files, practically guaranteeing that someone is going to need to transcribe each little slip of paper or scan it in individually. Neither approach is particularly appealing, especially considering how few scanners have the optical character recognition software to automatically translate printed documents into something a computer can translate. The NeatDesk, from The Neat Company, offers a solution that does not require finding someone willing to type up the business cards you collected at your last networking event or retype scanned documents so that you can use them.

The NeatDesk is a desktop scanner and digital filing system. While the scanner itself is ideal for practical use — small enough to fit on a desk easily, separate feeds for varying sizes of paper (including business cards), and a sheet feed system that eliminates the need to keep opening a scanner and placing documents by hand — the NeatDesk’s true usefulness is in its software. The Neat Company has developed specialized scanning software that provides intelligent text recognition: not only does it have the optical character recognition abilities necessary to make a document editable once it has been scanned it, the software can identify and capture very specific information on a given piece of paper. On business cards, it can locate all of the contact information and parse it so that you can easily import it into the address book of your choice. With receipts, it locates information such as the vendor and amount, formatting it so that you can add it to your bookkeeping.

Built into the software that comes with NeatDesk are export functions for a wide variety of software applications: you can add information into Outlook, Excel, QuickBooks, and even TurboTax with the click of a button. You can also create expense reports and contact databases within the NeatDesk system. In most cases, the software can parse information easily and simply. When you complete a scan, you can review and correct information as needed — which is occasionally. Errors in interpreting scans aren’t so different than what you might expect with a typist.

The NeatDesk is available for both Mac and PC. It’s priced at $399.95, expensive but less than the cost of finding someone to type up all your receipts or time-value of the sheer number of hours necessary to complete the same task on your own. Instead, you can let some machine that sits on your desk automatically handle the load of digitizing all your papers, eliminating the need to even keep many of the documents you scan in. The Neat Company also offers a dedicated receipt scanner, the NeatReceipt, along with a variety of scanning systems meant for the needs of larger businesses.

Image credit: swilmor / iStockphoto