How Scanning Apps Keep You Organized
PC Magazine|September 2015
Jill Duffy

If you have a smartphone, you need a scanning app with optical character recognition (OCR). Scanning apps help you capture all kinds of information in a split-second, from whiteboard notes to important documents. A scanning app saved my behind recently after I picked up a new passport. I scanned a copy of it on the spot, but then I had to immediately turn it over to someone else to apply for a visa. Before my passport was returned to me—more than two weeks later—I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork that required details from my passport. Good thing I had a legible copy!

If you’re still wondering why you would need a scanning app, and preferably one with OCR, here are a few scenarios that might convince you.

Business cards. The next time someone hands you a business card, use a scanning app to save that person’s contact information in less than 30 seconds. Then celebrate being paperless by returning the business card (or recycling it later). Some apps automatically create a contact card or find the person on LinkedIn to make sure you two are fully connected.

Whiteboards and presentation slides. When you’re in an important meeting, pay attention to the speaker, not every detail that’s on the whiteboard or in the presentation. Just snap a picture of important slides as they appear, or scan the whiteboard as the meeting is coming to a close.

Important documents to email to others. Say your bank gives you an important document to sign, but you want your lawyer to check it over first, and quickly. You can scan the paper and email it to your lawyer on the spot. Some scanning apps even have a tool that lets you sign them digitally, too.

Important documents to back up. Take my passport example from above and swap in any number of important documents that you can’t physically keep for one reason or another, but should. In many situations, being able to scan documents—even lengthy ones—in a matter of seconds saves you a time, money, and hassle. For example, when a “for sale” sign on a house catches your eye, a scanning app lets you grab a picture of the phone number, realtor’s name, and even the street number on the door or mailbox, and you don’t have to write down anything at all. Or when you pass by a shop that’s closed and see business hours written on the door, you can snap a picture and save all that text somewhere safe and searchable.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SCANNING APP

The best scanning and OCR apps have a few key features.

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