By Kareem Carr
As last Wednesday was Earth day, I wanted to have an environmentally friendly theme this week. However, I also wanted to elaborate on implementing certain aspects of my one hundred paper strategy. So, I thought I could say something about going paperless.
Because I think it’s good to be specific and because I only know how to do this in Windows Vista, that’s what I’m going to focus on. The important thing to mention is that all the suggestions for software that I am making are free or have a free version. I hope commenters will give some advice on adapting to other operating systems that they use. I think there are five important aspects to having an electronic document managing system:
1. A way to convert all your documents to your chosen file format.
I prefer pdf files but you should consider whatever format works for you. The unformity helps because it means that you only have to think about using a few programs to manage your library. I favor installing a print drivers such as doPDF and Print2PDF. After installation, an option to print as a pdf appears as if it were a regular new printer.
I also like to scan papers for which which I have a physical copy.
2. A way to sort and organize your documents
I use a simple folder system. I have a folder for each topic. In each topic folder, I have subtopic folders. In Windows, you can have a navigation pane so it’s easy to see the whole hierarchy at one glance.
By the way, if you have Adobe Reader installed, the icons for each pdf file become images for the first page of the pdf. If you keep your icons large, this gives something of the browsing feel that you get with physical pieces of paper. You can get a sense of what the documents are and where they are without having to read the file names.
3. An easy way to access your documents.
In Windows, you can set a preview pane in Windows Explorer and use either the previewer that comes when you install Adobe Reader or a special one made for Foxit.
My layout is the standard Windows Explorer which I use as a browsing window. I have a hierarchy of files on the left, (in the navigation pane); a list of thumbnails of files for the particular directory that I am browsing in the middle, (in the main window); and an embedded pdf reader on the right that allows me to look at a document page by page without having to open another window, (in the preview pane). This means I can look at my documents at all levels simultaneously.
4. An easy way to manipulate your documents by merging or splitting them.
One solution is PDFMERGE.
5. A way to backup your library
This is an optional aspect to the system. But after a particularly disastrous experience, it is one that I highly recommend. If you are going to keep everything on your computer, it’s a good idea to address the possibility of an equipment failure.