I’ve posted before about my personal “boat anchor” that keeps a Windows machine close by—Microsoft Money. There was just nothing close enough on the Macintosh to allow me to move.

I was a bit more successful replacing another bit of business, though: my document manager.

I used to use PaperPort/Pagis to manage my bank statements, receipts and the like, but neither product was available for OSX. (PaperPort had an old version of desktop that ran, kind of, under OS9, but it hadn’t been updated for years and didn’t work very well in Classic… and I wanted to avoid Classic if possible.)

PaperPort’s sheet-fed scanner—the Strobe—was a really cool little unit that let you push a bit of paper into it. It’d turn on, automatically scan the paper, launch PaperPort Desktop, and place the scanned document there, all pretty easily. Pagis didn’t work quite the same way, but did do lots of other cool little things like automatic document orientation correction, OCR to allow searching of a scanned document while preserving its graphical appearance, etc.

I found them pretty indispensable for years, as they enabled me to organize of the mass of paper that arrived—and continues to arrive—every month.

But, the scanner wasn’t Mac compatible, so I had to buy something that was. The only duplexing scanner I could find with a sheet feeder, at the time, was by HP: the ScanJet 5590.

At first, I tried to use its own ability to generate PDFs, but the thing generated absolutely huge PDF documents, even at low (200dpi) resolution black and white scans: we’re talking on the order of 25MB for a single, 20 page bank statement. And multi-page scans were a huge pain to knit together. Utterly unreasonable.

It took a while, but I was able to find a similar product on the Macintosh—Dominion Software’s Working Papers. It wasn’t perfect, nor was it as elegant as either PaperPort or Pagis, but it did the job.

Unfortunately, it was also plagued with a decent number of annoying bugs. And while the developer no doubt had the best intentions, it’s clear that the product isn’t in active development any more.

Not to mention the fact that the scanner has bad drivers, especially in combination with Working Papers’ TWAIN handling. I was spending too much time mucking with drivers, working around crashes, skipped pages, unreadable scans… quite frustrating, and because of that, over many months , my system fell apart and paper began to stack up.

Well, I’m happy to say I’ve found the solution. Fujitsu (Fujitsu?!?) has released a Mac-compatible version of their ScanSnap scanner, the memorably named Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOXM (affiliate link). This scanner does duplexed, color scans at 15ppm, has an excellent paper feed mechanism that doesn’t seem to jam, has a decent driver that doesn’t crash, comes with Acrobat 7, and generates excellent quality, well-compressed scans. And a higher resolution, multi-page, color PDF from it is smaller than the one-bit, black-and-white compressed scans, in a proprietary format, that I was getting from the HP/Working Papers combination.

As they say, w00t!

There are some downsides:

  • It doesn’t work with anything but Acrobat, as the driver isn’t a standard TWAIN driver.
  • The driver is a standard “application”, and occupies space on your dock when running.
  • The Macintosh version only comes with Acrobat and the driver; the PC version comes with a full software suite including a standalone paper management application, business card reader thingy, and a $40 rebate, making it cheaper than the less-capable Macintosh version. The Mac version is white/aluminium, but it’s like putting a sock over the boot that’s kicking in your teeth. But at least they released the Mac version, so kudos for that.
  • Scanned documents default to a single file location, with an automatically generated name, rather than being an untitled document in Acrobat that can then be saved to the location of your choice. So, it’s more awkward than it needs to be.
  • Acrobat 7 is kind of slow doing OCR, if you want the scans to be searchable. But at least it’s possible!
But, they’re relatively minor points. The ScanSnap is an excellent unit that I highly recommend to those who need to do—or have considered doing—document management.