Fujitsu

6 Essentials For a Well-Appointed Paperless Office

Now that you’re in the throes of converting all your paper pulp into digital files, you might find yourself in need of some gadgets to make life easier. With this in mind, we present the short list of equipment you’ll need in your new paperless office in addition to the ScanSnap.

Paper Shredder

Paper shredder

In today’s Wild West reality, identity theft is a global concern, and so document shredders have become essential tools for securely disposing digitized personal paperwork. We recommend that you get a cross-cutting shredder, which chop paper up into smaller pieces — pieces that more efficiently compress into wastebaskets, and are harder for anyone to reconstruct. Just be aware that cross-cut shredders are usually a little more expensive and maintenance-intensive. 

Don’t try to feed more than a few sheets at a time through the mechanism, and keep the amount you shred daily to a fixed limit – overfeeding a shredder is a sure way to burn it out sooner than later. We suggest taking a look at the Fellowes 32177 Powershred PS-77Cs, which we found online for over 50 percent off the regular retail price of $299.

Staple Remover

Staple remover

As a longtime staple (cue rimshot!) of any office, the venerable jaws-style staple remover is key for removing the staples from connected sheets before feeding them through your ScanSnap scanner. While the original design is still a champ, there are more contemporary models that claim to be a better mousetrap, such as the Swingline Ultimate Staple Remover, which incorporates a built-in magnet for catching those little metal monsters before they fall on the floor and hurt your pets or feet.

Yes, that’s right: Even staple removers have gone high-tech. Amazing.

Printer

Printer

It seems counterintuitive, ironic even, but a decent printer is still an important accessory for your paperless world. Sure, you might have shed your pulpy shackles, but there are still people out there who will want hard copies from you. All-in-one printers — combined printer/scanner/fax units — are all the rage, with Canon and HP as the two dominant players (see our review of the HP Photosmart C7280 for a great pick). That said, if you’re primarily printing text-heavy documents, we generally recommend laser printers instead of inkjet technology, especially if you only plan on using the printer sporadically.

USB modem

USB Modem

There are times when you’ll need to fax your scanned documents to folks who still like to work in paper, such as government agencies and schools. For these occasions, a USB modem is required equipment. Apple’s $49 USB Modem is probably your safest bet, unless you have an older Powerbook laptop laying around, in which case you can deploy its built-in modem and turn that laptop into a virtual fax machine. With either of these options, you might find that Smile On My Mac’s PageSender is the perfect industrial-strength fax management software, with loads more features than Apple’s fax PDF.

Secure USB Flash Drive

USB flash drive

Combining portable USB storage with a layer of security is always good thing, and there are options for every price range, from the Kingston DataTraveler Vault to the Fort Knox-grade IronKey drives. With hardware-based encryption and tight security features, these keys are favorites with the military and government. Regardless of which USB drive you choose, you’ll find that a safe, secure, portable home for encrypted scanned documents is a must-have. After all, one of the main ideas behind ScanSnap’ing your personal files is to digitize your documents, increase productivity and efficiency, and ensure utmost privacy.

Safety deposit box

Safety Deposit Box

OK, it’s not actually what we’d dub a “gadget,” but a safety deposit box is the ultimate tool for ensuring the most secure offsite storage possible. Check with your current bank, as it may offer discounts on box rentals to existing customers.






ScanSnap Video Tip: S1500M Quick Menu Function

The ScanSnap Quick Menu allows you to quickly transition between the different functions of the S1500M.

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Product Reviews

Portable External Hard Drive Roundup

Portable drive

Looking for somewhere to store your paperless world? Hard drives remain the leader for storage and speed versus size. While flash-based USB drives remain the tiniest drives out there, physical size isn’t everything. Hard drive makers continue to put a lot of R&D into raising performance and increasing storage density.

Online Storage Battle: Which Cloud Back-Up Service Reigns Supreme?

Online storage

OK, so you’ve scanned your life silly. Your personal papers: scanned. Your tax records: scanned. Your grade school reports cards: Yes, inexplicably, scanned. But how, exactly, do you protect all these PDFs from data death? Many folks are turning to online document back-up services—they’re saving their PDFs to “The Cloud.” Click the jump link, and see how Mac|Life rates five popular offsite storage services. (And then get those PDF puppies saved!).

Tips & Tricks

Digitize Everything. Access Everywhere.

Evernote

Paperless bill pay, online newspapers and magazines and even tools like the Kindle have made it easy to transition much of what we do with paper to a digital format. But, access to information? How can we get the best of both worlds — digitize everything and access all the time? The combination of Evernote and the Fujitsu ScanSnap give you that and much more.

How-Tos

Sending Paperless Documents to, Umm, Paper-full Fax Machines

Fax machine

While modern conveniences like scanners promise to reduce the piles of paper permeating our lives, our current reality is quite different. Sure, email has become the standard of electronic communications, and it cuts across all geographical and age boundaries. But there’s still an analog, paper-based technology that persists: the venerable Fax.

Master Image Quality with Your Scanned Graphics

Mastering Image Quality

While the Fujitsu ScanSnap line was created to offer the best speed and features in text-heavy document scanning, lots of owners have discovered that these devices are capable of delivering perfectly decent graphics scanning as well.

How can I scan to JPEG with my ScanSnap?

ScanSnap s300m

Scanning documents to JPEG with the Fujitsu ScanSnap is very easy once you understand one simple rule, first and foremost, always make sure to turn off "auto color detection" in the ScanSnap Manager.

Does ScanSnap create multi-page PDFs or single page PDFs?

PDF icon

The Fujitsu ScanSnap creates both, single and multi-page PDFs. As a matter of fact, you can control exactly what you want to do by setting your ScanSnap to do single page PDFs, multiple page PDFs, or set it up to create multiple page PDFs for every X number of documents you scan.

How to Back Up Your Mac with Time Machine

Time Machine

Sooner or later, you will lose files and/or your hard drove will die, so you have to be prepared. Fortunately, Time Machine—the backup application built in to Leopard—makes backups a no-brainer. With this guide, backing up is even easier.

Features

6 Essentials For a Well-Appointed Paperless Office

Paper shredder

Now that you’re in the throes of converting all your paper pulp into digital files with your trusty ScanSnap, you might find yourself in need of some gadgets to make life easier. Here's the short list of equipment you’ll need in your new paperless office.

5 Reasons to Go Paperless—And 5 Tips for Making the Transition

Time-saving

We all have scanning needs, but how many of us are really taking advantage of the full breadth of benefits that “going paperless” affords? Indeed, scanning hard copies and then shuttling them off to the recycling bin offers a lot of benefits that most people never consider. And wouldn’t you know, we have five of those benefits to share with you now…

Backing Up Your Paperless World

USB drive

In the process of converting all of your paper treasures to scanned copies, the importance of backing up digital files is more pressing than ever – and an ounce of prevention can save you from a level of heartbreak (and acid indigestion) that no decent person should ever have to endure. Mac storage is cheaper than it’s ever been, which should motivate you to consider backing up your data right now.

Master Image Quality with Your Scanned Graphics

While the Fujitsu ScanSnap line was created to offer the best speed and features in text-heavy document scanning, lots of owners have discovered that these devices are capable of delivering perfectly decent graphics scanning as well. Sure, if you need scanned images for reproduction on an 11x14-inch art print, you should turn to a flatbed scanner designed for that purpose. But if your aspirations only go as far as scanning images for the web or simple print projects, the ScanSnap scanners can handle the job.

Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks for getting the best possible image quality from your ScanSnap’d pictures.

Select the Right Image Settings

In the ScanSnap Manager program, open the Settings dialog from the main menu. You’ll want to scan any and all images at the maximum hardware resolution of 600 DPI -- which isn’t shabby! For this DPI, select the Excellent setting from the Image Quality tab, which is under the Scanning settings tab.

Dialogue box 1

You’ll also want to set built-in image compression to its highest quality, so click over to the Compression tab and move the slider to the left-most position. This gives you the best possible image quality, but at the cost of disk space. Your file sizes will be larger, but in this age of terabyte drives costing $100, it just doesn’t make sense to skimp on image quality for a few megabytes saved here and there.

Dialogue box 2

Once you’ve adjusted your ScanSnap Manager settings, it’s time to start scanning. There are two primary categories of image you’ll likely be working with: pictures from magazines and books, and photographic prints (from your own original photography or family photos). Each image type requires different post-scan editing techniques to achieve the best results. For the rest of this tutorial, we’re going to assume you’re working with an image editing program such as Adobe Photoshop Elements or an equivalent. (iPhoto, while useful for the most basic image editing tasks, doesn’t really offer the capabilities you’ll want for the techniques we’ll be covering here.)

Scanning Images from Books & Magazines

Most images that appear in books and magazines are “screened”: They’ve gone through a process that converts them into mosaics of tiny colored dots (cyan, magenta, yellow and black). If you look at these images from a normal distance, they look like familiar photos and illustrations. It’s only when you zoom in on them (with, say, a magnifying glass) that you see the individual dots. The screening process is convenient for book and magazine printers, but it can lead to problems for people who like to scan: In a nutshell, scanning screened images can lead to visual artifacts and moiré patterns.

The good news, however, is you can mitigate these problems by applying some subtle blurring, and then reducing the image down in size and/or resolution. Here’s how:

  1. Save your scanned image to disk, then open the scan in Photoshop Elements – we opened a scan of a bulldog. Now zoom to 100% using the magnifying glass tool. See all the process dots?
    Doggy 1
  2. Select Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, and try plugging in a value between 1.8 – 2.2 pixels. Any value larger will lead to too much blurriness.
    Doggy 2
  3. Once you’ve applied the filter, it’s time to reduce the image. The easiest way to do this is to choose Image>Resize>Image Size. Making sure that the “Resample Image” checkbox is activated, change the resolution from 600 DPI to 300 DPI.
    Doggy 3
  4. Click OK. The image has now been descreened and is ready to roll!
    Doggy 1

If you’re using any full version of Photoshop, or any other imaging program that offers an Unsharp Mask filter, you’ll want to run that filter on the blurred, resized image you just created. This will bring back sharpness lost in the blurring process. You could also use the retouching tools in Elements to remove the ghosted text seen to the side of the dog’s head (which, by the way, would also be an issue if we scanned this printed image on a flatbed graphics scanner).

At this point, you now have a 300 DPI image that can be further color corrected, resized and processed in any number of ways.

When scanning photographic prints, follow the same steps as above, but omit the Gaussian Blur filter step, as there are no scanned dot artifacts to remove. Then just resize your image to taste.

Now here’s a tip about choosing the best file format for saving the images you scan – try PDF instead of JPEG. We compared images saved with the default PDF setting against those saved with the optional JPEG formats, and found that the JPEG files always showed noticeably worse compression artifacts than PDF, regardless of the compression settings.

So, if you’re willing to give up the convenience of saving directly to JPEG, save to PDF instead, and then convert those PDFs to JPEGs with Photoshop, or your preferred imaging tool.

Videos

ScanSnap Video Tip: S1500M Quick Menu Function

Quick Menu Function

The ScanSnap S1500M is so much more than just a scanner for documents — it's a productivity tool design to save you time as you work more efficiently. The ScanSnap Quick Menu allows you to quickly transition between the different functions.

Cleaning Up the Clutter and Preparing for Disaster

Joel

James from California tells ScanSnapCommunity.com how his ScanSnap helped him clean up the clutter in his new home and has prepared him for potential disaster.

Saving on Storage Costs and Time

Jazmin

Jazmin from California tells ScanSnapCommunity.com how she saves on storage costs and time with the ScanSnap.

Digitizing Your Office

Joel

Joel from Illinois tells ScanSnapCommunity.com how he uses the ScanSnap digitize his office.

Sending Paperless Documents to, Umm, Paper-full Fax Machines

While modern conveniences like scanners promise to reduce the piles of paper permeating our lives, our current reality is quite different. Sure, email has become the standard of electronic communications, and it cuts across all geographical and age boundaries. But there’s still an analog, paper-based technology that persists: the venerable Fax.

Fax — shorthand for facsimile — has been around for decades, and was once the standard for instantly transmitting paper documents over analog phone lines. Obviously, the invention of email attachments has seriously eaten into the fax machine market, but there are still lots of situations — especially in the realms of corporate and government communications — where folks on the receiving end want to end up with paper. And that paper includes some of the documents you’ve taken the time to convert into bits via your ScanSnap scanner.

So that’s the “why.” Now here’s the “how”…

If you’re using an older Mac with an integrated modem and running OSX, you already have a built-in mechanism for sending faxes. It’s hidden in the Print dialog. To access it, do the following:

  1. Open Print and choose the “Fax PDF” option from the PDF popup menu in the lower-left side of the dialog.
  2. You can automatically select anyone already in your Address book, or type in a fax number.
  3. Now check the drop-down menu in the dialog:

It defaults to the Cover Sheet panel, but also lets you set fax quality, make a basic cover sheet, group multiple PDF pages to print on a single fax output page, and schedule the fax to occur at a specific time (just make sure to leave your Mac on!).

Newer Macs lacking modems — just about any machine made in the last 5 years or so — can also send faxes. So, if you’re stuck in a part of the world without broadband access, and only have access to plain old analog phone lines, you can always buy an Apple USB modem for $49, and use it with the “Fax PDF” feature detailed above.

Now, of course, if you’re reading these words, you’re clearly online savvy, so you’ll probably want to fax your ScanSnap’d PDFs right through the Internet. There are a couple of sites that allow you to send free faxes, but with some limitations: You can’t send anything longer than a few pages, and advertising will appear on cover sheet (and, no, you have no say in what kind of ads will appear).

Here are the details on three viable faxing services:

  1. faxZERO (www.faxzero.com) allows you to fax up to two separate 3-page documents each day for free. Or, for $1.99 per fax, you can send documents up to 15 pages long (not counting a cover sheet) with no ads. Just be aware that you can only pay via PayPal. This is the only totally free site that we can reasonably recommend. The others we looked at are all dodgy enough to make us want to take a long, hot shower.
  2. eFax (www.efax.com) is the 800-pound gorilla of web-based fax services. You can try it out for 30 days free, after which they’ll hit you up for a $16.95 monthly subscription fee — which gives you only up to 30 pages. Seems a bit expensive to us.
  3. Myfax (www.myfax.com) offers the best deal. For $10 a month you get to send up to 100 pages, all via a really slick website for managing your outgoing documents. It’s our pay service of choice.

ScanSnap Video Testimonial: Digitizing Your Office

Joel from Illinois tells ScanSnapCommunity.com how he uses the ScanSnap digitize his office.