NeatReceipts is a dainty sheet-fed scanner and software combo that scans your receipts, interprets the text, and enters the information into a database. It also allows you to export the data to Excel, various financial software packages, and even Adobe Acrobat. If that doesn't sound appealing, you've clearly never waded through a shoe box full of paper scraps on the eve of tax day, and you probably don't spend precious hours taping photocopied receipts to handwritten expense reports. Of course, NeatReceipts isn't perfect: it fails to make heads or tails of handwritten receipts or those from a noncomputerized cash register, and it's a pricey $250, considering it serves only one function. However, entering data manually into NeatReceipts' intelligent software forms takes less time than in Excel, which makes this device worth its price tag if you're self-employed or a business traveler who generates frequent and copious expense reports.
The NeatReceipts scanner is a slim, harmonica-shaped device that measures 10.8 inches by 1.6 inches by 1.3 inches (WDH) and weighs a light 10.6 ounces. You feed pages up to 8.5 inches wide through one side of the device, and they come out the back. This scanner connects to a Windows PC via its USB 2.0 port through the included cable, and it comes with receipt-management software, a carrying pouch, a plastic base stand, and a wall-mounting device. We recommend using the wall mount, as you'll need plenty of clearance to scan those long slips of paper and prevent crooked paper feeds; with the scanner affixed to a wall, you can pop a recycling bin underneath to catch the receipts. (The IRS accepts scanned receipts, so you can dispose of yours once they're digitized--as long as you back up your files!)
Installing the NeatReceipts software is quick and easy, thanks to a well-written installation guide and the CD's helpful tutorials, which walk you through the layout of the software and hardware. The basic protocol: Hook up the scanner to your computer and launch the software, slide a receipt into the scanner, then click the prominently displayed Scan button within the program's main interface.
The software is organized into four main screens: Receipt Manager creates a one-line database entry for each receipt you scan, Expense Reports lets you create a new report into which you enter receipts, Drag And Drop lets you drag the receipts between windows, and Document Manager lets you scan other documents such as utility bills or contracts. The genius of the NeatReceipts software lies in its ability to search scanned receipts for common fields such as date of purchase, total, payment method, and vendor name. Once you've scanned a receipt, its image shows up in the Receipt Manager window, and data such as vendor name and amount appear to the right. Receipt Manager tallies each line automatically and keeps a running total along the bottom of the screen.
Because the software organizes receipts and generates expense reports, you can keep track of receipts for a tax year, a month of expenditures, or a specific business trip. Once you've scanned your receipts, you can drag them into an expense report, e-mail them to someone else who uses NeatReceipts, or export them as HTML or Rich Text format or to programs such as Microsoft Excel, Word, and Money; Intuit Quicken and QuickBooks; and Adobe Acrobat.