There’s a new trend, well new to me, revolving around going paper”less” in the home and office (not paper free, but storing less paper). It caught my interest earlier this year, but I never really got into it. I bought a barebones portable scanner and tried my hand. I started off way to big.

I had ambition about blazing through my file cabinet of papers and thinking that in a couple of days I would be free from all the paper in the file. That never happened. I got a dud scanner and it crapped out in a couple of days. My paperless dreams were dashed, and I gave up, sort of.

I continued to read up on going paperless and I was still intrigued. I got a new scanner (under warranty) and have put my mind to going hard at this in the new year. I’m not going to try to file all the past paper that I have collected at this time, it will just take to long without the proper scanner and I don’t have $400-600 dollars to spend on a scanner.

Since the out set of the process, I have discovered some cool and super easy solutions, I think, to make this work for me.

When it comes to things like this, I really am super lazy and want to do as little work as I can. I have found some great utilities that will basically make this virtually painless, after the initial setup of the system.

This is my setup so far. Remember, I’m still experimenting.

    1. I use a scanner app on my iPhone (which I always have with me) to take a picture (scan) of the receipt.
    2. The receipt gets a date as part of it’s file name and is automatically uploaded to a Dropbox folder.
    3. Using an automation tool, I have set up to watch that folder, when a document is added to the folder, it is run through an OCR (optical character recognition) program which coverts the type to readable text and moves the file into an action folder for further processing.
    4. In the action folder the same automation tool waits for new files and then reads the contents of the file and file name. It then moves and renames the file to the appropriately named folder (fuel, utilities, etc.) and sorts it into year and month folders based on the contents, date and name of the file.

So far this is working for me. I have it set so that my utility bills and fuel receipts are automatically filed in appropriate folders to be easily accessed.

The best part is that all of this happens in the background and I all I need to do is take a picture of the receipt.


Here are the tools I use (these are all Mac programs):

If you’d like to know how to do this for yourself I’ll add a tutorial with all the steps. I just want to get it working well for me first.

If you have tips on going paperless share them in the comments below.