Where are you storing your scanned documents these days?

For the longest time I’ve kept a folder of scanned PDFs in Dropbox, but I wouldn’t mind leaving Dropbox behind at this point. Where do you keep your scanned documents?

DEVONThink in a dedicated database. I love that it’s end-to-end encrypted and it’s reasonably easy to get stuff in there.


Just local, with several backups.

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A hierarchy of folders, each document having a date and description as part of its name. They are all OCRed. I use Finder/Spotlight to search. They are all on a server Mac mini with external drives and backed up multiple ways. Roughly 10,000 PDF documents.

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I keep it simple and non-proprietary. All scanned (and other documents - downloaded and created by me) are kept in standard macOS folders, located in Documents or Dropbox sub-folders as appropriate for my needs. Native handling of PDF files by macOS is excellent - search, annotation and backup. There is no overwhelming need for a proprietary database.

One important factor that many of us don’t consider is the legacy/estate/emergency issue. If I am absent for any reason - injured, hospitalized, incapacitated, deceased - how will others access important documents?

Think of all the documents that might be needed in your absence by your successor, family member, executor, power-of-attorney agent or incapacity agent. He or she might need to pay bills, transfer funds, or obtain documents - medical records, home, auto, insurance, wills, trust documents, logins and passwords, bank/credit card statements, investment records, tax documents, cost basis records, receipts.

Then think about how the people mentioned above could access your documents, including scanned documents, from your computer or a backup of your documents. Keep in mind that one or more of those people might not be familiar with Mac-specific software, but could access generic folders of PDF files on a plain-vanilla Windows PC. A proprietary Mac-specific database would be among the first choices to avoid.


At one time I would have said Evernote. Now, and there was a time I never thought I’d say this, I’m using Apple Notes.

My primary computer is my iPad Pro, but I keep a backup of everything in EagleFIler on my Mac using a simple workflow. When I want to add a PDF to notes, or when I scan a document with Scanner Pro, I save the file to an iCloud folder. Hazel takes that file and 1. runs an AppleScript that creates a new Notes document labeled with the name of the file, then 2. moves the PDF to EagleFIler.

I currently have about around 1600 documents in Notes, all but 100 or so are PDFs.

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You make a very good point. With DevonThink in particular, I do these mitigations.

  • Use DevonThink over something more abstracted, because it can easily export all the documents in their original formats and their support will help someone who has trouble with that.
  • Share database access/input with my family so they’re already familiar with how things are organized.
  • Maintain notes on how to access all my files (in any format) in the same place my will, etc., is found.
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Yes, detailed instructions are very important to help your loved ones.

I would add - do NOT store your will and documents in a bank vault or safety deposit box. There are a number of circumstances in which access by others could be delayed or prevented.

Examples (for U.S. residents):
As soon as a bank is aware of your death, even before your family provides the notification, the bank will freeze access to your accounts and safety deposit box. It may require a court order to obtain access by an estate executor or administrator. If the original will is in a bank vault, how will your designated executor obtain the will to get the court order?

Banks, especially the large monster mega-banks, are notoriously difficult to deal with regarding powers of attorney in the event of your incapacity. Banks typically require use of pre-completed powers of attorney forms and fail to honor documents prepared by your own attorney.

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We have all our assets (including the safety deposit box) in a trust and the bank has a copy of the trust documents. For computer access, including, of course, all the passwords, we’ve left complete instructions with our son (who is also our executor) who keeps it locked up. Everything was set up with the advice (and long list of instructions) of our financial advisor and an estate attourney, so hopefully everything will go smoothly when we are gone. Anybody with any assets at all is foolish not to prepare for the eventuality.


DevonThink for me.
I tried other options, but the search engine and AI matching made the difference.
Not the cheapest solution, but to my mind the best.


Same for me.
20 …

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Yes, agree completely. For U.S. residents, a trust is an excellent way to go for a number of reasons, including avoiding the court-directed probate procedure. The successor trustee, appointed in the trust document, can immediately take over the event of your incapacity or death. (I assume that you meant successor trustee rather than executor above).

Regarding scanning, organizing and storing documents discussed above in this thread - the same considerations apply for a trust vs. a probate estate. An executor (for a probate estate) or a successor trustee will need an easy-to-understand and easy-to access method of accessing records to pay bills and otherwise manage your affairs.

Absolutely. Fortunately I was able to organize home, auto, bank/financial and bill-paying records for my elderly mother who passed away a few years ago. Organizing records, mostly by scanning paper documents*** into Dropbox folders, was the most important part. Almost as important was titling all of her assets in a simple revocable trust.

*** Scanning was accomplished by a Fujitsu Scansnap scanner into an old MacBook Air computer, both of which I brought with me on a 10-hour car trip to my mother’s home several times per year. Files synced to my home iMac (and its backup storage) through Dropbox - very simple and reliable. Fujitsu’s software fiasco a couple of years ago caused a problem when traveling with another computer - perhaps a topic for another discussion thread.

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Yep. I’m not an attourney nor do I pretend to be one! I leave this to the professionals. I had a long career as an electrical engineer but I can barely understand all the ins and outs of the trust. I just know that it will save my beneficiaries lots of grief and leave them more money as well.