I have a huge stack of folders in my bookcase filled with bills and print outs (every time I goto the bank, they seem to give me a book of papers) that I suppose I’m meant to keep around. It’s a pain, because I get the papers, and have to file them. There’s no use for them (until you really need them) so they just accumulate. For a long time, I’ve wanted to scan these papers instead of filing them.

Recently, I’ve finally bought an all-in-one printer which lets me do this! The keyword that I was looking for was a printer with ADF (Automatic Document Feeder). You can basically put papers in the sheet feeder at the top, and the printer will take each one, scan it, and output it via PDF to your computer.

It sounds great, but it’s not entirely automatic. I have to set my printer to “Remote scanning” mode, and then configure & start the job on my computer. As long as my computer and printer are side-by-side it’s not too bad. Part of the configuration is to specify whether the document feeder should scan one-sided or two-sided. It’s too bad that the printer can’t sense this! But maybe that’s a function of how much you pay for a printer.

The problem I have been having is that my printer decides to eat some papers when scanning both sides. That’s very annoying as it involves even more manual effort! When I hit a problem like this, I end up using a piece of open source software called PDFSAM (PDF Split and Merge). It’s an amazingly useful tool with advanced features where it can reorder the pages on your PDF (so you can scan all the odd pages, and then just flip your stack over and scan the even pages – this will result in a reverse list of even pages).

Now I just wish there was some ability to one-click scan+email an entire bill to my computer. I suppose this is another feature that they save for more expensive printers, but it’s preventing me from going through my entire backlog of pages because it’s just too much effort! Also now I have to figure out how to shred and dispose all of my old fashion physical papers.