Revisiting PAPERLESS all these years later

Is this a paper or a digital document? Where do you keep this? Who has access to this document if you were incapacitated or if you met your untimely demise? Could this person access this document now? I guess what I’m asking is how do you grant permission for access only when they need it and not before?

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I really like the conversations going on here. They are real world, and close to my heart. ‘I feel’ that there should be one standard format/file extension/what ever else that you want to call it, that the software companies don’t dink with. Set up a good one, and leave it alone, so folks can use it for long term storage use, (as in generations long).

All the shuffling external hard drives round is great, and I was doing that with tapes from a Unix machine years ago, and do today with hard drives from Apple equipment, but as mentioned above, they must be in a secure AND accessible place. (Yep, as mentioned, when you die, the shields go up around your stuff that someone else is holding for you).

I LIKE the idea that I can keep a large amount of “stuff” on my iPhone, hence, WITH me, but I want it stored off site too.

Anyway, folks, please keep giving MacSparky these great ideas. He IS ‘DA MAN that knows how to put it all together, so us less up-to-date folks can digest it.

It’s a paper document that my executors hold (primary and alternate). But if you can’t trust your executor, well that’s a totally different issue!

Almost everything is held in a trust (such as bank accounts and a safe deposit box) and my executor also becomes the trustee and can access the box after my death. All he needs to show the bank is my death certificate and his ID as the bank has the trust document. So that gives access to the contents of the computer (as backed up).

This topic would make a good MPU episode. Too bad Katie isn’t still around since estate law is her specialty.


Thank you @tomalmy. This sounds like a good plan. I am in the process of gathering all of our documents, both paper and digital. I agree that this would be a good topic for MPU especially with Katie Floyd as a guest.

Thanks to @JOSE for posting the “Revisiting Paperless…” topic. Agree with @Ricky: The discussions here have been fantastic.

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Tags, tags, tags. This needs to be demystified in ways that it hasn’t yet. how to use them, strategies to get the most out of them, how to automate the addition of them to files, which offline storage solutions don’t strip them and make all your work pointless, etc. Etc.

Thank you!


Ricky, you bring up an interesting idea.

We aren’t going to resolve it here, but could the major tech companies develop and agree on a standardized “archive” file format and perhaps even a device/media standard for storing this data too that could allow for permanent and reliable archival of critical data?

From the posts in this topic, it seems clear that many of us have concerns about this area of our digital lives as we move more and more toward a truly paperless world!

Right now I have a convoluted array of solutions to try to insure data integrity. I have on-site mechanical hard disks and optical M-DISCS as well as my NAS array, basically duplicate sync services using Dropbox and iCloud and topped off with BackBlaze cloud backup and a rotating system of hard drives with my most recent bootable clone and Time Machine data that are swapped at my bank safe deposit box monthly.

This is clearly overkill and requires a lot of effort to maintain, however I have lost critical data in the past and will not risk that happening again. Nothing is absolutely “bulletproof”, but I have gone above and beyond what any book on backup strategies has suggested - probably at least by a factor of two!

But it would be of incredible value to me to have a system that could replace most of this physical/on-site stuff with a single, highly reliable format and media.

I do have computer literate executor/trustees for our will/trust, however even so it is not an easy task to have to look through the various data storage locations to make sure they have the most current version of a particular file. Then, if for some reason that file were damaged, having to go through a half a dozen backup or synced sources to find the most current backup is also a pain.

However Dropbox and BackBlaze both have file versioning, and so does my NAS as well as Time Machine. Since those are all automated processes running in real time, there are several options for a good copy of a file that should be close to current.

Nevertheless, this is all overwhelming - even to me. Just writing this post has been exhausting (as it probably has been reading it for YOU)!

In summary…THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER WAY that still protects data integrity!


I wonder if the photos will be a free update? I used it this summer to setup my photos in the Catalina developer beta without many problems. It took some manual work at times like when some photos showed as today’s date not the actual date so I had to manual adjust around 100 file dates but currently I have photos from 2002-2019 stores nicely.

I do have several hard drives and several online buckets that I want to combine and remove duplicates and remove junk and finally organize them into one location only. So many times I search Dropbox, then Evernote then OneDrive then google drive and waste so much time for it to always be in the final place to look. I’ve bought in to the iCloud setup and am about to upgrade for. 200gb to 2tb and that will cover all of my files so figure only using iCloud moving forward will be ideal for me.

The only problem is I feel overwhelmed when I think about doing it and avoid it like the plague…lol

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I haven’t gotten much into Paperless. I’d like to though waiting to see if the IX500 (Scansnap) issues will get sorted out.

I guess I’m missing something… What are the IX500 issues?

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Problems have been reported in this forum (and elsewhere) with ScanSnap Home, Fujitsu’s new 64-bit software. The older 32-bit software, ScanSnap Manager, is no longer supported by Fujitsu and is compatible only with older versions of macOS.

Problems specific to the the iX500 upgraded to the new software include problems with wi-fi connection - see this link:

Another problem for owners of previously-purchased iX500 scanners is the unusual and onerous software licensing restrictions associated with “upgrading” to the new software. Quoting from another MPU forum thread:

  1. The new software (“ScanSnap Home”) features unusual (for this type of device) software licensing and use restrictions. I could be wrong on certain details, but my understanding is that the software license for newly-purchased scanners is limited to one user and five computers. You must register or “activate” a license, and you will eventually run out of licenses if you install the software on other computers, move the software to another disk drive on the same computer, or upgrade the OS software (“clean install”) multiple times on your same computer. In other words, you are not free to use your expensive scanner freely - you must abide by Fujitsu’s unreasonable (in my opinion) software restrictions. Other users in this forum have described difficulties encountered with the license hassle - for example running out of licenses due to installation of new versions of macOS on the same computer.
  2. It gets worse for those who already own more recent (and still sold by Fujitsu) scanners like the iX500. New software is available, but there is apparently only one computer license available …

Link to thread mentioned above:

A search in this forum for “Fujitsu” and “ScanSnap” will reveal other bugs and usability problems …

Is there an updated scanner that has the issues resolved?

Fujitu’s new scanner is the iX1500.

It is my understanding that the iX1500 comes with the new ScanSnap Home software with its associated software license restrictions described above.

I have no personal experience with the iX1500 so others will need to comment on hardware issues or other software issues.

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Thanks for the breakdown. I haven’t noticed much of that.

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I have revived my interest in paperless working now that I am drowning again. I really like the Paperless guide and I am re-reading it. The biggest updates I would like to see are:

  1. Overarching principals which are hopefully generic and potentially universal e.g. File Naming, Directory Structures, Tagging strategies, Workflows
  2. Software options, shortcuts and automations to support 1.
  3. Suggested file formats
  4. DevonThink3 usage strategies and tips again supporting 1.
  5. Any changes from your previous advice after living with your ideas for another 5 years.

i’m in the same boat. All of my docs / notes are in Evernote , and I use tags and titles to identity the contents. This is really helpful for pdf’s in a note that is named like “shdhdbdjdbd68shddn.pdf” where the file title has no meaning. I have to add meaning to it .

Moving the thousands of documents that I have that are like that into another system would require me to have to quit my job to have time to do it. If there were a utility that could use the note title and tags to make a new note into another system, I could migrate my data.

I’d feel safer having those document in storage that I own , though I don’t mind that being sync’d with an online service.

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it might be because I’m the only one who uses my Scansnap s1300i , but the 64 software update only had a slight learning curve to replicate my workflow after I upgraded.

My scanner is wired , so I won’t experience any issues with wireless.

I’m reading Paperless for the first time and getting so much out of it. However, one thing David forgot to address is: What do you do with all the leftover paper clips? (Also, my staples are starting to rust.)

Melt them down into a paperweight :rofl:


In the past year both of my parents passed away of unrelated chronic conditions. As the year has gone on I have been dealing with their trust and estate issues. If I have learned anything through this experience it is that I do not want our trust/estate affairs to be anywhere near as complicated as what I have been dealing with!

In a digital world, the record of our lives is increasingly being converted from various analog formats into a sea of digital data that can be incredibly hard to keep track of. Despite my best efforts, I am still finding a lot of issues.

I have so many different accounts created with businesses across the internet, many created before I began using a password manager to organize and protect them, that I don’t think I can ever provide a complete list to my trustee(s). I suppose extremely old accounts that I haven’t accessed in years probably are not a huge concern…but still, having as thorough of an account list as possible with ACCURATE login credentials can be extremely helpful to your trustees.

Another thing that needs to be carefully tracked is a list of all subscription or auto-payment options you are enrolled in. Many of my subscriptions can be managed easily through my Apple device settings app, but there are others that do not bill through Apple. Those services in particular need the company name, subscription/auto-payment details and accurate contact information to cancel the services after our passing.

These issues are perhaps not specific to a paperless workflow, but they are most definitely very closely related to the other issues we are discussing related to the longevity of our data and digital lives.

It will be our generation which will, for the most part, have to first confront the issue of how we can keep our data safe but at the same time make it easily accessible to our heirs after our passing. My Dad had just enough digital information to allow me to have a glimpse at what a burden I will leave for someone else if I don’t prepare properly!

What are you best suggestions for keeping all of this organized and accessible, but still safe?