How long have we had computers on the office desktop? 25 years? Why is it, in an age where every computer is connected through the internet to every other computer on the planet, that we still don’t have a paperless office? Look around.
Paper is everywhere. It’s in the inbox. It’s in file cabinets. It’s probably in our human DNA to have paper. Apple’s iPad may represent the future of media publishing, but Paperless is the affordable, digital way to reduce paper clutter.
Uncluttering Your Paper Life
To a certain extent, we’ve been on the road towards a paperless society for the past 25 years or so. The three major examples that come to mind include email, Microsoft Office documents, and Adobe Acrobat PDF (portable document files).
So, what do we do more often than not?
We print out email messages (on paper), we print out Office documents (on paper), and we print out PDFs (on paper).
So much for the paperless office, right? One of the major gluttons of paper usage is the dinosaur newspapers and magazines. Web browsing has reduced my need to buy either in the digital age, so we’ve made some paperless progress.
The Word On True Paperless
The problem with going to an all paperless office has to do with our digital file system, human DNA (the part that likes atoms vs. bits), and the lack of a cohesive, universal method for handling information in only a digital manner.
Enter Paperless, the ecology friendly Mac app that takes you and your home and your office one step closer to realizing the dream of a paperless society. Simply put, Paperless is a document management system for your Mac.
Using a scanner and Paperless, you can scan receipts, warranty cards, deposit slips, and other documents into your Mac. See? There was a reason to save that scanner from the trash bin.
The Paperless interface is drop dead simple, super self explanatory. Just like iPhoto or iTunes, the Library of documents is on the left, the details of each document in the main right column, and the toolbar gives you easy to understand tools.
Whether you’re dragging and dropping PDFs into Paperless, or using the scanner to digitize those very thin tree parts, Paperless is still a process, though it’s the start of what could be a good relationship for the future, truly digital office.
There are plenty of documents and paper that need to be scanned and saved on a computer rather than a file cabinet or a desktop. Expense reports. Tax information. Medical documents. Owner’s manuals. Legal documents. Disaster backup and recovery.
From one perspective, Paperless makes you want to dive in and digitize everything in your home or office. For example, look at how you can view documents in the image above. Flip back and forth in a Cover Flow-like display. Cool, huh?
And tiring. Who searches through hundreds or thousands of documents that way? Such an effort might be worse in the future by using an iPad. Tennis elbow? iPad elbow? Digititis inflammatorious (don’t go to Wikipedia; I made that up).
Paperless Just Can’t Be Paperless (yet)
Here’s the skinny for you future lovers. It ain’t here yet. Paperless is very good for what it does. But to be truly paperless requires that everyone else in the world adhere to the same standards and procedures for handling digital documents.
As it is, the only standard is paper itself.
It’s the usage of paper that’s a de facto standard, not the size of paper we use. Every country seems to like their own size for specific documents.
Until everyone everywhere tries to do what Paperless is trying to do, we’ll be in log leftover limbo land. Some digital documents here and there. The rest of our document fetish is tied to tree parts.
Paperless works very well with most scanners, and most scanners today are inexpensive and produce very good quality. Scanning, though, is an extra step to get paper atoms into document bits on your computer. Paperless also doesn’t manage every kind of document. Fortunately, there’s the Documents folder on your Mac which does. And all those apps to manage each document file type.
The paperless office? It must be something like global climate change. We’ll adjust our ways here and there in an attempt to improve, but making a wholesale change in the way we conduct business (using paper) may take a few more generations.