How do you store your paperless scans?

I used Evernote for many years to store my paperless filing cabinet. I generally liked how it worked and the search saved my bacon many times. Over time I grew weary of the poor Evernote export options and moved everything to Devonthink. Devonthink works great but I literally only use it for storing, organizing, and searching scanned PDF’s. I’m currently exploring options to see if I should upgrade to version 3 or try another system.

I’d like to hear how others with paperless workflows store their scans? The most important things to me are full text search and a clear path to get my data out. I’m curious how others do it and if I should consider an option besides Devonthink.

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I’ve gotten to the point where I’m just back to folders and sub-folders in Dropbox. None of the “everything bucket” apps work well for me. Plus, this makes it easier to let Hazel do the filing.


Dedicated folders for private and business in iCloud.

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I print mine and file them.

Naaah, just kidding. I do exactly this.


I store needed scanned documents as well as research articles, quotations, book summaries (PDFs of Kindle book highlights and notes), receipts, manuals, and more in DEVONThink.

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like the backup 1,.2,3:

everyting scanned is in:

  • iCloud: paperwork folder (I consider that my local copy)
  • Webdav: external provider paperwork folder (external copy, enrypted)
  • external ssd connected to my NAS. (different medium, encrypted)

it works for me, and I try to do that for all other backups as well.

I use a hybrid mix of iCloud and DEVONthink.

For my main job and personal files, I use iCloud. For research PDFs, web archiving and scanned documents like bills, contracts and receipts, I use DEVONthink.

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My main hesitation with using iCloud or Dropbox is the search capability on iOS. Unfortunately I have a lot of stuff that isn’t named great and I rely on full text search to find it. I think Dropbox requires the professional level for full text search.

Anyone aware of any apps that let you search full text of a given folder in Dropbox or iCloud Drive?

Hazel stores the scanned documents and downloaded statements into one of 44 folders on my server computer. I use Spotlight to search. I’ve been doing this for over six years now and it works fine.

Reference material goes in DEVONthink. Everything else goes in network folders by category.

I use folders that are synced to iCloud. Only personal stuff so the volume isn’t that big. My folder layout matches the paper filing system I used before going paperless.

Devonthink can index your files without creating a database. In my case scanned files are sorted in folders and subfolders by Hazel, moved to the NAS and if i ever need to find something; Devonthink.

Their mobile client doesn’t support that though does it?

No it doesn’t - i guess i use DTTG more as a mobile document catcher then as the source of truth (which is always my NAS). You spoke about “storing scans”; do you actually store on iOS or use it as a front end of sorts?

I use a folder system on my Synology NAS. Currently my files go back up to 23 years. I cannot see myself putting my data into a proprietary database ever again.

For search purposes on iOS I use the Synology Drive App. On MacOS and Windows, I use the web interface of the Synology Drive, if needed. Sometimes, I also use EasyFind for search purposes on my NAS.

I just need to be search and pull up stuff on iOS. Full text search is a big help here. My stuff isn’t named the best, especially stuff that dates from when I username evernote.

I have used a program called EagleFiler by c-command software to manage the business side of my medical practice since 2009. All files are stored in their native formats and not in a proprietary database. The current contents of my largest database are:

1 Bookmark
16 Images
10 Microsoft Word (2007) Documents
19 Microsoft Word Documents
7,444 PDFs
3 RTF Documents
187 Records
3 Web Archives

The files are fully searchable in spotlight outside of EagleFiler. The database structure is very similar to old iTunes. I find the tagging window and “tag cloud” to be very useful, particularly when batch tagging or batch fixing tag problems. I scan all of my documents into an incoming folder. Hazel then processes the files and moves them to an import folder (like automatically add to iTunes) that gets swept periodically into the appropriate Eaglefiler database. I have roughly 10000 documents spread across three libraries dating back to 2001. I have found the developer to be very responsive to any issues and he is constantly updating the software. The latest release was 1.8.8 on 6/26/2019! There is some information about reading these files with iOS on his website but I have not had the need to do that. This software has been invaluable to me for many years and there is a free trial. I do use Devonthink Pro, but only for journal articles, reference materials and medical research. It doesn’t seem to work as well for business documents. As far as back ups, the database folders are on my main SSD with daily Chronosync backups to Dropbox, time machine backups at home and office, weekly SuperDuper clones on three alternating disks and Backblaze in case of disaster.

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I find myself slightly confused now with ‘cloud storage’ now that I have a large storage iOS device.

I was hoping that through iCloud Drive that ALL my scans/files stored in iCloud would be synced to all my devices, providing they have sufficient storage of course. I guess I want this so that in the situation where I may not have internet access (via mobile/WiFi) that I would have a copy stored on the local storage of my iOS device.

However, when I start rooting around in my folder structure in the Files App, there are numerous files that have the Cloud icon next to them but these then disappear (if I am connected to the internet) as I presume as soon as I go into a folder iCloud downloads any files that are not on the local device.

I thought DropBox on the Mac actually synced all content, all the time, so that if I picked my MacBook up and went offline I would actually have access to all my files locally. Does iCloud not function at all in a similar way? Or am I missing something?

That’s a great overview of some of EagleFiler’s capabilities. I’ve been using it for three years as a replacement for Devonthink Pro. The increasingly main downside for me is the iOS connectivity, or lack of it. The developer is not making an iOS app, and his recommendation to use it with something like Dropbox with some other iOS app is a a bad workaround for me because it won’t let you access encrypted files on iOS, and renaming and deleting from outside the Mac can cause EagleFiler to lose track of the files. It’s just too much of a kludge.

That said, I really don’t need archived paperless scans on the go (the only way I’m using iOS right now) so I’m satisfied using EagleFiler on my Mac and using other syncable apps (Notes, Ulysses, IA Writer, 1Password, Todoist, etc) for any info that I need to have macOS/iOS syncing access.

Interesting. I’ve never heard of the app until now and it’s looks very useful. I’ll be checking it out for Mac.

However I can totally see the criticism of a lack on an iOS app as an issue. Hopefully iOS13 will help resolve this and enable the creation of comparable iOS tools.