I Have Good News For Those Stuck in PDF Copy and Paste Hell.

PDFs are a wonderful and horrible invention. PDF means Portable Document Format and they essentially create a document that displays consistently no matter what device you view it on. You’ve probably been sent a file from someone and opened it only to see a document that looks like it was formatted by a fourth grader. This (usually) doesn’t reflect on the sender’s document composition skills but on the differences in how documents are displayed on different devices/systems. The PDF standard is meant to be a way around this issue.

ClipboardFusion logo.
ClipboardFusion logo.

PDFs are wonderful and horrible for many reasons – but today I want to talk about just one: copy and paste. Many eBooks are available in PDF format as are many academic journals and other scholarly documents. When you view said documents you may find content within them you want to copy and paste into another document (always with appropriate citations, right? right?!). For example, when I read an electronic book I “copy and paste” the content I consider key, interesting, humorous, etc. into a Google Drive document and then I can easily search through a library of everything I’ve read and thought is important (rather than the entire works, which oftentimes say the same thing over and over in slightly different words…but I’m just looking for the one time they said it perfectly). This is an easy task right? It isn’t with many PDFs.

I haven’t taken the time to look into why PDFs do this (I don’t really care), but for whatever reason PDFs insist on inserting hard line breaks all over the place. This means the text

your paste may look

something like this,

which is very annoying.

When you want it to look something like, “your paste may look something like this, which is very annoying.”  Now, you can just delete out those hard breaks and reformat the text yourself in a few seconds – but if you read a lot (I do) you’ll get tired of this repetitive and stupid task that is slowly consuming your life. How can you escape this annoying problem?

ClipboardFusion by Binary Fortress. It is a free and small application which can be configured to modify text you copy in various ways – one of those being automatically removing hard breaks from text you copy.

ClipboardFusion can do all sorts of really complex and crazy stuff to copied text if you want it to…but in this case we just want to remove the hard returns from copied text. Once you have ClipboardFusion installed you can configure it to remove the hard breaks by going into Settings–>Text Replace and creating a rule. The match text for this rule is “\n” (this is the computer code stating there should be a line break) and the replace text we leave empty (b/c we just want it to remove the hard break, not put anything into the text in place of \n). Just that easy you are off to the races – err, escaping from PDF copy and paste hell.

A few important caveats to remember:

  • ClipboardFusion has to be running if you want it to clean up the line breaks.
  • If you are copying and pasting and your text looks all funny – this is probably because ClipboardFusion is running when you don’t want it to. Exit out of the program and try again – your text should now paste in with line breaks and all.
  • This is only a very small feature of what ClipboardFusion is capable of. Check out the ClipboardFusion website to learn about other powerful processes you can utilize.

Binary Fortress is a pretty nifty company. I’d encourage you to take a look at their other applications as well. DisplayFusion looks pretty sweet for those with multi-monitors and they have a number of other free and for sale applications that make life easier. Glad I could gain you a little of your life back…but the real credit goes to ClipboardFusion…Now if only I could find a way to write posts without consuming any of my life…hmmm…I’ll let you know when I get that one figured out.

Document Scanning Software.

Historically when I’ve bought a scanner it has come with scanning software – usually an outdated version of PaperPort.

Flat-bed Scanner.
Flat-bed Scanner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More recently, however, the software that comes with various scanners has been limited and sometimes almost useless. Windows built-in tool (Windows Fax and Scan) is okay if you are scanning images – but for documents, you really need something more robust. Here I’m going to provide a brief guide to some of the products currently available – including some free options.

Please feel free to reply in the comments if you

  • Know of other software that should be listed here.
  • Have feedback on any of the products listed here.
  • Are related to the company and want to provide additional insight on the product.

ScanWorks

This is interesting – it is a web-based scanning application, though it does require installing a client on one’s local machine. It is free and there is also a premium version available for $20/annually (not bad). I wasn’t a huge fan of the web interface, but it might be more attractive to others.

iCopy

Everyone likes free and open source – and that is exactly what iCopy is. I used it to scan in some documents recently and it worked fairly well, but its UI is not intuitive and it is buggy. It doesn’t create an output file until the end of a multi-page scan and if you scan too many pages it will crash due to consuming too much memory. Still, a free and fairly easy to use option.

VueScan

This software is extremely popular though I found it to be more focused on image scanning than multi-page document scanning. A free trial is available and purchase cost is $40-$80. It does support a vast number of scanners – including numerous older scanners for which other software is unavailable.

PaperPort

The “standard” in document scanning and management, pricing starts at $200, though it is sometimes bundled for free with scanners (usually an older version). It isn’t bad, but I prefer Lucion’s FileCenter.

FileCenter

Of all the applications I have encountered for document scanning and management, FileCenter is my favorite – even over PaperPort. That said, it does cost $50 for their standard edition and $200 for their professional edition. A free trial is available.

Presto! Page Manager

This software looks interesting mainly b/c it integrates with Google Docs and Evernote. Price starts at $100.

ABBYY FineReader Express

I used some of Abbyy’s software years ago and enjoyed it, I imagine it is still of the same quality as I know it is quite popular. Software pricing begins at $50.

Advanced Scan to PDF Free

Simple, free, and easy to use – if you are doing document scanning and the price FREE is right, this is probably the best option.

OfficeDrop

This is a freemium service, they used to offer desktop software (which was buggy) but appear to have dropped the desktop software in favor of mobile apps and document management. That is unfortunate.

Simple Doc Organizer

I’m not familiar with this software, but the site looks nice and they have a Home edition that is available for free.

Other Options

These are other options that aren’t incredibly expensive but I have no personal experience with…

Holy Snikes You Are Expensive

I didn’t feel like reviewing the really expensive options (e.g. above $500), but I’ve included links to some of them for those who are so inclined…

No More PaperPort, Join the Lucion FileCenter Revolution!

Introduction:

Flat-bed Scanner.
Flat-bed Scanner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scanners and scanning have come a long way from the old days. Now we have these wonderful MFP devices at affordable prices with document feeders available to consumers and small businesses – it is a wonderful world! But what about the whole process of taking the captured image and moving it to data storage, formatting it, sorting it, perhaps running some OCR against it?

In my experience MFPs and scanners generally come with some lite version of document scanning / management software – oftentimes an older version of Nuance’s PaperPort.

Recently I took in a homeless Dell MFP with some issues (like frequent jamming while printing). I knew it originally came with PaperPort, but it didn’t have it by the time I took it in – so I went looking. Yikes! PaperPort was on the expensive side and a trial wasn’t readily available. So this is my attempt to find the best solution. I began by doing a pretty extensive overview and in the end just fell head-over-heels for Lucion’s FileCenter…so I decided not to finish filling out all my charts and just let folks know I love FileCenter. It feels so much smoother and more intuitive than PaperPort (at least version 12 – the last version I have access too).

That said, I’m not using FileCenter right now. Why? Because the Professional version of the product is $200. 🙁 Sure, standard is only $50…but I want the professional…maybe I’ll wake up one day and the software fairy will leave a copy under my pillow…or maybe one day I’ll find that I really need an excellent application to perform document scanning and management – but right now, I don’t…and being a bit of a perfectionist, I don’t want the semi-good standard but the robust professional (I think their features are actually largely on parity with each other).

What do you think? Have you seen other options out there? Tried PaperPort 14? Hate FileCenter? Let me know in the comments!

Potential Alternatives:

Scanitto – An inexpensive, basic scanning solution. PaperMaster – Appears to have been discontinued.
Sohodox – Pricing starts at $199. GloboDox – Big brother to Sohodox, pricing starts at $399.
eDocOrganizer – Pricing starts at $50. Your suggestion goes he

Product Comparison:

When it comes down to it, there appear to be three main products in the arena – Nuance’s PaperPort, Lucion’s FileCenter, and ITAZ’s Sohodox. I’m going to compare PaperPort and FileCenter here – b/c I have only had time to use these two, and I have not had time to demo Sohodox.
In the following table you will note some X’s are bolded. This indicates that the feature is available in both the standard and professional editions of the software. You’ll also notice some X’s are italicized, this means a crippled version of the feature is available.

Company: Nuance Lucion
Software: PaperPort FileCenter
Standard License: $99.99 $49.95
Professional License: $199.99 $199.95
Current Version: 14 7
Scan To Searchable PDF X X
Scan Direct Utility X X
PDF Viewer X X
FormTyper X ?
ImageViewer X ?
Print to Image PDF X ?
Document Thumbnails X X
Stack/Unstack PDF X X
PDF Document Assembly X X
PDF Annotation X X
PDF Highlighting X X
Folder Management X X
Folder Notes X ?
Send-To Links X ?
Cloud Sync X ?
Nuance Cloud Connector# X ?
Web Bookmarks X ?
Scan and Open Button X ?
Scanner and Image Enhancement Tools (SET) X ?
Customizable Scanner Profiles X X
Capture Assistant X ?
Network Folders X X
Windows Context Menu Support X X
Jump to Recently Scanned/Viewed X ?
PDF Create Included# X ?
PDF Creation of Any Application File on Desktop X ?
Supports PDF 1.7 X ?
Supports PDF/A X ?
Supports MDF-MRC X ?
PDF Passwords X X
PDF Encryption X ?
SendTo OmniPage Workflow X ?
Bookmark and Organize Workspaces (Desktops) X ?
Scheduled All-In-One Indexing X ?
MFP Scanning with Desktop Delivery via Email & Folder X ?
SharePoint Connector X