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Searchable scanners may be your best friend this tax season

No more stacks of paper! Get everything organized and neatly stored on your computer.

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ScanSnap iX500 Color Duplex Scanner.

Fujitsu

If you are the type of person that throws all of your receipts into a shoebox and then deeply regrets it when tax season comes around, you may want to get a searchable scanner.

Searchable scanners are, well, scanners, but they have some special talents. They can scan a whole stack of receipts and other papers automatically. After they scan a document, these home office tools automatically turn the information into a searchable PDF file and put it in a computer folder so that it's easy to find later when you're doing your taxes.

Features to look for

There are many different brands of searchable scanners on the market, but there are a few features that you should look for so that your choice is as useful as possible:

  • Wireless is best. This lets you put the scanner anywhere in your home office without a trail of unsightly cords.
  • Pick a sheet-fed scanner that has an automatic document feeder (ADF) because no one wants to scan each document by hand. Many searchable scanners can automatically feed and scan up to 50 documents.
  • Check the duty cycle rating. A duty cycle is the number of scans a device can make in one day. Some scanners have a duty cycle of around 1,000 scans, while others, like the Xerox DocuMate 152 Scanner have a duty cycle of 2,500 scans.
  • Make sure it supports multiple document sizes. Receipts come in all sizes, so it is important to find a scanner that not only feeds A4, A5, A6, B5, B6, letter and legal sized papers. It should also have feed options for business cards and custom sizes.
  • Check for phone capabilities. Some scanners, like the ScanSnap iX500 Color Duplex Scanner can send scans wirelessly to your phone.
  • Be sure that the scanner has duplex scanning, which means that it can capture both side of a document at the same time. This feature will save you a lot of time.

What to do if you have a regular scanner

If you already have a regular scanner and don't want to dish out more money for a searchable scanner, good news. You can make your regular PDF documents searchable:

  1. Change the settings on your scanner so that it saves documents in PDF form.
  2. Download Adobe Acrobat DC. If you have an older version of Acrobat, use these instructions for creating searchable PDFs.
  3. In Adobe DC, open your PDF, then click on the "enhance option" in the document tools.
  4. Choose "scanned document."
  5. Drag the blue dots to the corners of your document.
  6. Click "enhance page" and "close."
  7. Click "recognize text" in the menu and then "in this file."
  8. Choose the language of the document and the "recognize text" option. Now the document is editable and searchable.
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