Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Neat Receipts clears the paper clutter


The Neat Company is in business to bring some order to that stack of bills, business cards and documents that typically clutter up your desk.

Their flagship product is a $400 scanner called NeatDesk. You feed in your bills, receipts, business cards and assorted documents. It not only makes a digital copy of each one, it also identifies, sorts and organizes them. Names and phone numbers go into your Outlook or Address Book, tax documents get routed into a tax folder and receipts get collected in a PDF.

And all that clutter on your desk magically disappears.

Neat also has a scanner that's both portable and more affordable. The NeatReceipts is a single-sheet scanner that connects to the USB port on a PC or Mac and is small enough to easily slip into a laptop computer bag. 

While you can stack 10 business cards or a 50-page document on the desktop version, the portable scanner reads just one sheet of paper at a time. But they both use the same software. You can tell the scanner that you're feeding it a business card or a sales slip before you scan, or just let it guess each document. When I fed it a restaurant receipt, it captured the date, total cost, the tax amount and categorized it as "Meals/Restaurant." I only had to type in the name of the restaurant.

NeatReceipts was especially good with business cards. It made a complete image of the card and it filled in the correct fields with the contact's name, phone number and email address. If you want to get the text from a document, scan it to a PDF, then open the file in Adobe Reader and copy the text. NeatWorks software will also store and index PDFs that you already have.

But it's best trick is how it can handle a group of receipts. It collects the dates, amount, and other information from several receipts, exports the data into an Excel spreadsheet and bundles everything into a single PDF to email to the person who reimburses your business expenses.

For any frequent business traveler, that's a sweet dream.

You can find the NeatReceipts for about $175 at electronics or office supply stores and at amazon.com.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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