Notes on scanner compatibility in Paperless
For as long as computers have imported images with image scanners, manufacturers of image scanners and software developers have needed to determine an acceptable way to make the process of providing instructions to the scanner and returning results to the computer. One answer to these questions is ScanSnap. Paperless uses technologies that rely on both to import documents from a scanner directly to a Paperless library. An image scanner is a device that computer use to import visual information to the computer. Much the same way that a printer produces visual output (printing text and images) from information stored in a computer, image scanners create computer input from visual information (media supplied to the scanner). With Paperless, we make every effort to make this process simple. However, due to the complexity technologies required to interface with a scanner, the process may require troubleshooting. This document provides information on:
- What ScanSnap scanners are.
- Whats canner drivers are.
- What Image Capture is, and how importing to Paperless from a scanner using Image capture is different from importing to Paperless from a scanner.
What good is Paperless if I can’t scan directly to it?
Without a scanner, it is still possible to take advantage of nearly all of the features in Paperless. Most notably, you can:
- Organize receipts and other documents.
- Store and view metadata (such as merchant information, document titles, and payment methods) for the receipts or documents through the Details Drawer.
- Search for the documents by searching for metadata values (for example, through Spotlight).
- Export library information to .CSV or .QIF format.
- Print, email, or burn (to CD) files directly from a Paperless library.
- Encrypt libraries.
- Enable automatic prompts to backup libraries.
- Automate importing with Finder Droplets and Save as PDF Print-menu options.
We provide functionalities that support importing directly to a Paperless library in addition to these other functionalities. Thus, the only noteworthy difference of not being able to import to Paperless with a scanner is that image information returned by a scanner is not imported directly to Paperless. We know of three potential workarounds to this:
- Scan directly to your computer first; then, import the files that resulted from the scans to Paperless.
- If your scanner is a ScanSnap scanner, use ScanSnap manager to route a scan to Paperless.
- Use Automator, AppleScript, or some other automation method to automate importing image files (produced by scanning images with a scanner) to Paperless or a Paperless library.
Currently, we provide a method to assist in the automation of importing files to Paperless:
- Print-to-PDF options - use a PDF option from the Print menu to produce a PDF file that will import directly to a Paperless.
We do not otherwise support the third method and (unfortunately) cannot provide instruction on how to automate importing files to a Paperless library.
What are ScanSnap Scanners? Are they TWAIN, as well?
ScanSnap is a proprietary transfer method (TWAIN is open), developed by Fujitsu, for use with their scanners. In our experience, ScanSnap-compatible scanners are not also TWAIN-compatible. Paperless cannot import from a ScanSnap-compatible scanner under either the Use TWAIN Drivers or Use Image Capture options in Paperless Preferences; in order to import directly from a ScanSnap scanner, use one of the following two methods:
- Set Paperless to Use ScanSnap Scanner under Paperless Preferences.
- Set ScanSnap Manager or Home to direct all scans (initiated by either the scanner or ScanSnap Manager or Home) directly to Paperless.
For information on particular models of ScanSnap scanners, please consult documentation provided by Fujitsu.
What are drivers?
Drivers are a set of instructions a computer uses to do use hardware that instructions for use do not otherwise exist for. Here are some examples of situations where a computer might need a driver:
- For a computer to be able to print to a specific model of printer.
- For a computer to use a telephone modem to “dial into” a network connection or send faxes.
- For a computer to send instructions to and return image data from an image scanner.
Some things (for example a TV or a DVR) are complicated enough that they require a set of instructions for users to be able to use them with some level of convenience. Drivers are like an instructional manual for a computer to be able to use a specific hardware device: the same way that an instructional manual provides instructions to program a DVR to record all new (or re-run) episodes of a specific show, drivers provide a computer with instructions on how to, for example, send a print job to a printer.
Specifically, what are scanner drivers?
Scanner drivers provide a computer with instructions on how to do two things:
- Send instructions to the scanner on how to handle a scanning job.
- Return (receive) image data from a scanner once the scanner has completed a scanning job.
What is Image Capture?
Image Capture is a program provided with Mac OS X that makes it possible to acquire images from scanners, iOS devices, and digital cameras. By default, Image Capture can be launched from your Mac’s Applications folder. If Paperless is set to Use Image Capture in Preferences, Paperless can call Image Capture in-order to acquire images from your scanner. Apple also provides a list of scanners with drivers that are compliant with Image Capture. Thus, Apple documents that Image Capture is able to acquire image data from the specified scanners without issue. In our experience, the overwhelming majority of supported scanners are TWAIN-compatible. We may suggest using Image Capture as an alternative to the Use TWAIN Drivers setting under Scanners in Paperless Preferences.
Why doesn’t my scanner work with Paperless?
Variation as a term for natural selection in scanner sales.
In many ways, scanners are like cameras. Two digital cameras might look the same (or very similar) but produce very-different photos based on things like:
- the quality of the lenses.
- the type and quality of the flash.
- the construction of the camera.
- the type of software the camera uses to operate and the capabilities of the software to handle image data.
In order to produce unique and pleasant results at a low cost, camera manufacturers find unique ways to accomplish these things at the lowest cost possible. Nevertheless, some camera manufacturers produce specialized lenses, batteries, or other components in order to produce a specific result and manage production costs. Scanner manufacturers tend to follow a similar formula in designing and producing Scanners and scanner software. The variation in scanners (and scanner software) that results can sometimes cause issues in the way that programs (like Paperless) interfaces with the TWAIN API in-order to import image data from a scanner directly to a library.