566: Paperless Strikes Back


Great field guide. Can’t wait for Hazel!! these two originals were my favorites. glad to see them getting some 2020/21 love.


Paperless was one of the first guides I purchased when I started listening to MPU and it introduced me to so many great workflows and apps that I still use today.


Paperless was my introduction to David Sparks and Mac Power Users. I don’t even remember how I found out about it.

I don’t really get his new position that one doesn’t need a document scanner. In the original field guide he warns against flatbed scanners in that if you use one you’ll abandon the paperless workflow out of frustration. I can’t imagine ditching my document scanner and just scanning with my iPhone, although I did that for receipts on trips.

I almost fell off my chair when I saw that ScanPro+ costs £99.99

What’s so special that they justify such a high price tag for the app?

That’s interesting. The US price is a more reasonable $35/year. The benefits are apparently a syncing service, OCR, advanced signing features, better search and no ads. I’d upload a screenshot to confirm we’re talking about the same thing, but Discourse is not wanting to right now.

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The need for a document scanner, to me, is a matter of volume. There are a lot of us that get by fine with an app. I purchased a ScanSnap several years ago when I digitized a couple of decades of my papers, but I eventually gave it to my brother and have been using Scanner Pro for years.

I receive and pay bills digitally and 99% of my mail goes straight to the shredder. Almost everything I scan these days are my own scribbled notes. YMMV


@MacSparky OK I immediately bought your course. I am more interested in the new training methods that you have used.

It was interesting to note that ScreenFlow has issues and I would probably have the same emotion to heave something after losing a bunch of work.

I see that many podcasters use multiple recorders, especially during interviews to prevent this same type of issue. It seems that sometimes an interruption by another app is not handle well by some apps causing them to pause.

Thanks for your efforts on this project and I hope you get ample dividends for your creation.

I heard mention of having Hazel create new folders for years monthly if desired, was that covered in the Hazel portion of the guide or someplace else?

I’m slowly getting through this episode, but more quickly getting through the field guide itself!
Thought I’d share that in the field guide David mentions changing folder icons using iLove Icns. There’s an app on Setapp I just installed, Image2icon, which does the job very neatly, even allowing you to zoom and offset the image, plus choose from different backgrounds (eg folder, SSD etc).
Lovely time-waster!


It’s the sort into subfolder action he’s talking about. It’s very straightforward. The key is to use the > token to designate another folder level.


I’ll have to check that out. I am still on version 3.37and it might not be available.

I know i have a few folders getting pretty full since iv’e been potting stuff in them ice around 2014.

Thanks everyone for the support and the positive feedback. I had the V1 Paperless customers in mind every moment during production of this new course. I wanted to make sure you got your money’s worth.


I’m part way through this podcast episode and have to echo the pain expressed by @MacSparky of working with the Books software platform and its 2GB limit – it drove me nuts while creating my Cognitive Productivity with macOS book. That led me to put my book’s videos on youtube rather than in the book itself (i.e., in the book you get links to youtube hosted videos). But @MacSparky’s learn.macsparky.com approach is the way to go (online). (I need to look at whether Leanpub now allows videos to be on its own platform now that they have a courses options — which they didn’t when I published my first two books.)

And Apple’s iTunes Producer.app, part of the workflow of submitting books to Apple (at least it was), is a real pain. (Not to mention the fact that I never got payments sorted out – several years later and no royalties from Apple, all from Leanpub and Amazon.)

I’ve enrolled in the new Paperless Field Guide and look forward to it.

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I agree. For home, using an app to scan the occasional bill works fine. But at work, I have too many pages to digitize to make a scanning app worth using.

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Does the new paperless field guide include working in Adobe Acrobat with Javascript? The professional version of Acrobat has some built in scripts that will search for and redact things like social security numbers and birth dates, using what I believe is regular expressions. I’d be interested in writing my own scripts to search for specific info using regular expressions but need to educate myself on how to do that. I have a working knowledge of regex but need to learn Javascript.

I am revisiting from my folder structure based on the Paperless Guide. I am curious if anyone follows the same structure that @MacSparky has in the guide. For example, when it came to Utilities, Mortgages, etc. (because we moved around a few times in the last 5-7 years), I would put those in a folder with the current residence.

Another item that I was trying to figure out was “Family”, would you list each child and say financials, banking, savings account, etc, OR would that be another category under Banking. Trying to distinguish what would actually go under “Family” (other than say school, memories, crafts, etc)

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Just curious … how often do you go back to look for things and are these decisions you are seeking guidance about core to doing that looking and finding?

I find that as long as I give the file names “good” and explanatory ones, I just dump all the files like this into “large” folders by year. Each year’s folder attracts hundreds of files. Even if thousands, then no big deal to search for what I’m looking for. Hits will be by the file name, or by content. No matter, always quick.

So, I no longer get hung up on folder structure. Saves much time and makes the automated part of my “filing” pretty much automatic (using Hazel).

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I only use very a general folder structure, since searching for documents is done via Spotlight or DevonThink. I have a folder “Appartment” and I dump everything related to it into it. The additional work of setting up subcategories doesn’t add any value. Looking for the invoice of the plumber? “Plumbing” as a search term will find it. I don’t even make subfolders by year for stuff like that.

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My approach is that for banking, if I have some degree of control over the account then it goes in my folder, if I don’t it goes to the Family folder.
Having said that, I’m going to give a simpler folder structure a try.

So, name everything with the date.
Add a tag or two.
Let Hazel file them into folders based on the first tag.
I’ll have about ten tags only, not including names of people.

I’m still experimenting. One thing I have found though is that if I file something, then the next day go to file something similar. If I’ve forgotten where I filled the first one, I move it!

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