The best way to scan business cards, receipts, brochures, and documents to rid yourself of paper copies and clean up your office is the Neat Desk scanner and NeatWorks software. The Neat Company claims to be able to "tame the paper monster."
My office was out of control. There were piles of business cards that I received at the huge tech conventions I attend each year. The toppling stacks of cards sat next to the receipts that I never had time to enter into my Quicken software. Both piles were on the shelf above my overflowing "to file" basket. I'd had enough of the clutter and decided to try the Neat solution.
What is the Neat Desk and Neatworks?
The Neat Desk is a scanner. It stands upright and takes up less desk or shelf space than a flatbed scanner. There are fixed-width paper feeders for business cards, receipts, and 8-1/2 x 11" documents. It can scan both sides of a two-sided document with one pass by choosing the "double-sided" option under the scan menu in NeatWorks.
Load up to 15 items in their corresponding space and it spews the scanned items out so fast that you better have the output tray in place. (I didn't pull out the tray and they ended up flying around my office.)
NeatWorks is the accompanying software for Mac and PC. It is the magic of the Neat system. Once an item is scanned, NeatWorks uses optical character recognition (OCR) to change the scanned image into text. It automatically determines if the item is a business card, receipt, or document, then analyzes the item to fill database fields. The fields are customizable, or you can use the traditional format provided. For business cards fields include the person's name, company, address and so forth. For receipts there is the name of the store or place your received the receipt, the amount, date, and it automatically categorizes familiar businesses into gas, clothing, food, etc.
Once scanned, the NeatWorks offers a number of options for organizing and managing the contact, financial, or other information:
- Create a file cabinet and folders and keep the database of information in the provided "NeatWorks scanning and digital filing software."
- Drag contacts obtained from business cards into your address book folder in the NeatWorks window, and it adds them to your contact list (Address Book on Mac, Outlook on PC). This is probably the contact list you sync with your phone.
- Store financial information from receipts in NeatWorks and create categorized expense or spending reports including reports for tax-deductible categories.
- Export financial information to Quicken or other money management software, or to an Excel spreadsheet.
- Export financial information to TurboTax.
- Scan documents, brochures, contracts, etc. creating searchable text.
The Neat Desk and NeatWorks software seemed to be the best way to scan business cards and receipts and the solution to reducing my paper clutter. I am further along my path to the goal of being paperless. Find out how well it worked as well as more about its "neat" features.