Monday, January 14, 2008

Drowning in Receipts

This is probably only useful to those who travel a lot with expense accounts. I generate lots of receipts. One of my former co-workers was diligent about scanning or copying all his receipts and keeping the originals, so that he never had to worry about the US Postal service eating them. Good idea, but too labor intensive.

Recently, I was talking to another of my colleagues this very topic. He had a clever trick: he carries a portable scanner with him. That allows him to scan the paper receipts as soon as he generates them, then he has multiple copies; he can send them in with expense reports via email, and he always keeps a copy. Sold! The only problem was that he was using NeatReceipts, a hardware/software combination that only works on Windows.

After a little research, I ended up buying this light, portable scanner from Amazon. For software, I use either Preview (yes, it can act as a TWAIN device to capture scanner input) or GraphicConverter, my preferred Swiss-army chain-saw for image manipulation. I scan the receipts as PDF, then combine all the files (using Acrobat, the full blown version) to create a nice little receipts package for expenses. This is great for me because I have a terrible time keeping up with the little scraps of paper.


glv said...

If you don't have the full-blown Acrobat, there are several other options.

In Leopard, Preview can merge PDF files. Just open the sidebar in both files, choose the thumbnail view, and drag pages between files.

I like this all to be automated, so I have a little script (that depends on the Multivalent Java-based PDF tool). I call it pdfmerge:

scriptdir=$(dirname $0)
java -Xmx256M -cp ${scriptdir}/Multivalent20060102.jar tool.pdf.Merge "$@"

(Plus, the Leopard version of Automator includes support for PDF merging, and I think that in turn is based on some new AppleScript support, so I'm hoping to lose the dependency on Multivalent in the near future.)

Zach said...

I haven't tried this myself, but this is an interesting-looking app for wrangling the paper in your life:

Yep. Like iPhoto for your PDFs