Take Control of Your Paperless Office
Publisher: TidBITS / Take Control Books
Final Release Date: July 2011
Pages: 125

Join Joe Kissell as he helps you clear up the chaos of an office overflowing with paper. With Joe's guidance you can develop a personal clean-up strategy and choose your tools—a document scanner and the software you need to perform OCR (optical character recognition), devices and services for storing your digitized documents, and tools to categorize, locate, and view your digital document collections. Once you have your gear in hand, Joe then shows you convert your paper documents to digitized files and gives you ideas for how to organize your office workflow, explaining how to develop the day-to-day techniques that reduce the amount of time you spend pressing buttons, launching software, and otherwise managing your war on clutter.

In addition to all of the above, Joe clues you in to these paper-reducing tasks and skills:

  • How to scan or photograph documents you find while out and about—business cards, receipts, menus, flyers, and labels—so that you keep only digitized versions. Joe discusses a variety of mobile scanner options, with particular emphasis on using a camera-equipped iOS device, and lists similar options for employing Android and BlackBerry smartphones.

  • How to create a digitized image of your signature so that you can create, sign, and share documents digitally, rather than printing them for the sole purpose of signing them with a pen.

  • How to set up your computer to send and receive faxes so that you can avoid using a physical fax machine with paper input and output. Joe describes both using a fax modem and taking advantage of various online fax services.

  • How to use common techniques for reducing paper—paperless billing, online bank statements, and more—and less common practices, such as using paperless postal mail services and check depositing services. Joe also gives effective tips for reducing the amount of catalogs, junk mail, and paper that you receive.

Questions answered in the ebook include:

  • What is a "searchable PDF" and why is it key to a paperless office?
  • How should I back up my important digital documents?
  • What differentiates "document scanners" from other types of scanners?
  • What's available in the way of mobile document scanners?
  • What, if anything, does TWAIN stand for, and should my scanner support it?
  • What will OCR software do for me, and what special features should I look for?
  • What scanners and OCR products does Joe recommend?
  • How can I use AppleScript to automate my workflow for scanning documents?
  • What paper documents should I keep in physical form?
  • How can I use PDFpen or Acrobat Pro to add a signature to a PDF?
  • What naming and categorization schemes should I use for my documents?
  • Where should I store my digital documents?
  • What should I keep in mind if I want to share my documents with others?
  • How can I access my digital documents remotely?
  • How can an iPad, iPhone, or other device help me reduce the use of paper?
  • Is it better to use a fax modem or a fax-to-email gateway?
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Great for Mac users, helpful for others

By dpeach

from East Tennessee

About Me Educator, Maker

Verified Reviewer


  • Helpful examples
  • Specific recommendations


  • Mac specific

Best Uses

  • Intermediate

Comments about oreilly Take Control of Your Paperless Office:

This book contains all the answers for why you should go paperless and how to get there. It does not pretend that the process will be easy or quick. There are some large overarching questions that need to be tackled in the process (where and how to store your scanned documents are just some of them). It could take weeks or years to fully commit to such a project. Joe Kissell will help take some of the scariness out of the project.

The book is heavily weighted to Mac users. The author gives specific hardware and software recommendations that are clearly targeted to Mac users. Because of this, there is some translation work for those of us who use Linux as our primary OS. There is a little more help for Windows users, but not much.

You will find everything you need to know about the process down to exactly why you should choose the scanner settings the author recommends.

[Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book.]

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