As I’ve written before, I maintain an almost exclusively digital workflow. About 8 years ago I banished pads, pens, and pencils from my desk and started taking notes and doing other record keeping chores on my computers and iOS devices. I write very few checks and other than signing charge slips—when Apple Pay isn’t available—I hardly ever write anything.

Somewhere along the line, I replaced my slow and tedious flatbed scanner with a snappy Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M scanner and even allowed a pen back on my desk for those rare checks. Almost all our bills are paid online through our bank. Whatever paper we do get is scanned and shredded.

In my post linked above, I point to a post by Steve Losh in which he describes how he deals with his scanned documents. His idea is to run OCR on the documents, throw them all into a single directory and use his system’s search capabilities to find the ones he wants. This is simple and has the advantage that everything but the actual scanning can be automated. My ScanSnap takes care of the OCR for me but I still have to deal with filing the scanned documents. Because a lot of my scanned documents are tax related, I like to keep them filed by tax year. Other than a few other specialized documents the scans are mostly filed in a scanned-documents directory.

The fact that there’s more than one destination for them means that it’s hard to automate the task as Losh did. It turns out there’s a nice Emacs solution for this. Anthony Green has the Paperless app (also available on Melpa) that almost automates the filing process. You dump the scanned documents in a staging directory and paperless gives you a list of documents and target destinations. You can display the document if you need to before choosing a destination.

My only complaint is that all the target destinations have to live in a single hierarchy in which all the files are possible targets. That’s not an insurmountable problem, of course, even for someone like me who has an existing setup. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, take a look at the README on Github to get the details. This is, I think, a really nice solution and moves one more chore into Emacs. What’s not to like?

UPDATE [2017-02-15 Wed 19:49]: Karl Voit, who I think can be fairly characterized as a researcher in digital workflow, has a comment below that contains some links to his solutions to the problems discussed in this post. I’ve read most of these before and can testify that they’re well worth your time.

UPDATE [2017-02-22 Wed 15:01]: you’re → your.

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