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PaperPort Pro 9 Office

PaperPort is touted as the data hoarder's saviour -- a document management system that can help you sort, organise and, importantly, retrieve any document you may need. Its built-in OCR engine allows you to convert scanned (or photographed) material into an editable form. This means that PaperPort is in a position to manage every aspect of your work and home life, from credit card bills and baby photos to crucial reports and expenses claim forms.
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Topic: Developer
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs
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PaperPort is touted as the data hoarder's saviour -- a document management system that can help you sort, organise and, importantly, retrieve any document you may need. Its built-in OCR engine allows you to convert scanned (or photographed) material into an editable form. This means that PaperPort is in a position to manage every aspect of your work and home life, from credit card bills and baby photos to crucial reports and expenses claim forms.

PaperPort indexes text-based documents, and can do so on the fly during periods when you are not using your computer for anything else. It is this facility, along with your own annotations of images, that enables document retrieval.

Features
PaperPort has been around for a while now, and additional features have naturally been added over the years. But there is every reason for regarding version 9 as a crucial update because of two important innovations. The first is that it now comes in two editions: Pro 9 Office (£139.99 inc. VAT), which is aimed at businesses and is reviewed here, and Deluxe 9 for home users. PaperPort Deluxe 9 costs around £70 (inc. VAT) and lacks the ability to connect to network enterprise content management software as well as some PDF-related features. Which brings us to the second important innovation: ScanSoft has decided that PDF is a key document format, and has embraced it fully. This matters for lots of reasons. Documents can be converted to PDF from within PaperPort -- and indeed created from other applications, as the relevant driver is installed as a print option. Web pages can be saved as PDFs. Scans can be saved automatically as PDFs and -- via a system called Desktop Delivery -- sent to a particular PC from a network scanner. PDFs can also be created by bringing together documents whose original formats vary. The way documents can be joined together -- or 'stacked' as PaperPort terms it -- is extremely effective. Once in PDF or the software's native MAX format, you simply drag one document onto another and the two are united into a new whole. Documents can be 'unstacked' too -- a large file broken into its constituent pages and then saved individually, or recombined in different ways. This feature has lots of potential -- just one example is separating out a single page from a large PDF newsletter so you can forward the relevant item to a colleague.

Interface & ease of use
A row of icons sits along the bottom of the screen, allowing you to drag documents to other applications or services. These range from Word and Excel to email, FTP and even compression tools like WinZip. You can configure settings for how each of these drag-and-drop features operates, but even without making any settings at all they are managed intuitively and appropriately. To take three examples: drag a document to your email client and a mail is created with it as an attachment; drag it to your compression software and compressed version is generated; drag a PDF to the Microsoft Word icon and it is converted, via the OCR engine, into a document you can edit.

Support
Scansoft's Web site provides a support page for PaperPort, containing a knowledge base, product updates and a user forum. Email support is provided via a problem report form, although there's no live chat facility. If you need the personal touch, phone support is available Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. PaperPort is a complex and comprehensive application. It has layers of depth that enable its use far beyond the basics of document management. For example, the large thumbnails mean it could function as an image album. It is laudable that, for all its functionality, even home users with minimal paper to organise should find it relatively easy to get to grips with. The only question for the latter is whether to go for broke and by Pro 9 Office, or settle for the cheaper Deluxe 9 and miss out on some potentially useful PDF-related features.



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