Sunday, November 13, 2011

Paperless for Windows Organizes Scanned OCR Documents for Cheap

Mariner Software's Paperless for Windows 2.0 ($30, 30-day free trial) is a scanned document organizer with excellent basic capabilities. The way it organizes and presents scanned documents on screen is logical and well thought out, and the program is generally quite intuitive and easy to use.


Paperless for Windows 2.0 screenshotThough not terribly colorful, Paperless's interface is nonetheless beautiful in its simplicity.As with much of the competition (notably OmniPage and PaperPort), documents are organized into collections, aka folders, groups, etc. You may import files directly from disk, or scan them in as single-page (for photos) or multiple-page documents (letters, postcards, etc.) The main window consists of a browser tree pane to the left, a list of documents, and the details about the currently selected document to the far right. The large icons of the toolbar at the top of the page provide easy access to all the actions. All documents are viewable according to the date scanned, as well as in their respective collections.


Paperless lets you crop and rotate documents you scan from within the scan dialog, but not after the documents have been imported. However, you may change the order of the existing pages, split documents, and merge documents, as well as export financial documents as Quickbooks .QIF files.


Paperless will perform OCR on scanned documents, as well as documents loaded directly from disk, however, it only extracts text--it doesn't reconstruct full documents from the results. Also, it required a somewhat obscure adjustment to the settings before I could scan in duplex using a Fujitsu ScanSnap 1500 sheet-fed scanner. My only other gripe about Paperless is that you must click the X at the top of a dialog to close it. This is most likely a result of the company's heritage as a Mac software vendor, however, Windows convention (and user habit) dictates that you have OK and cancel buttons.


For the price, Paperless 2.0 for Windows does a very good job. Some of the dialogs are a bit primitive, but all in all, it does what it says it will do (scan and organize documents) and does it well. It's a nice inexpensive alternative to PaperPort and OmniPage, which cost over three times as much. However, those programs have some features that Paperless lacks. For instance, they will reconstruct documents after OCR.


The only real caveat is that you should make sure you need Paperless--most scanners, especially sheet-fed scanners such HP's ScanJet 3000 and the aforementioned Fujitsu--come with their own software.


--Jon L. Jacobi


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