ScanSoft ScanSoft PaperPort Professional 10

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ScanSoft ScanSoft PaperPort Professional 10
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Every day, office workers are forced to deal with a combination of paper and electronic documents, and managing the two can be tricky. Though it started life as a scanning utility, ScanSoft's PaperPort 10 Professional has grown into a full-blown document management application that comprises a collection of tools to help organise and keep track of data.

PaperPort employs the popular Adobe PDF filetype to store scanned pages, and from there it's possible to edit the documents and send them to applications like email and word processing. It has also long had the ability to extract text from scanned pages and turn them back into editable text via optical character recognition (OCR). Once scanned, the text can then be searched or organised into other formats or applications. The scanning engine is efficient, and our tests yielded impressive results. In fact, during testing, scanning entire articles from broadsheet newspapers and A4 pages yielded extremely high accuracy and required little user intervention. The bundled PageView utility is a bonus, as it allows you to view pages individually, make notes and annotate with both text and images.

The search feature indexes the text in scanned documents and also handles any words embedded in graphics. It's not extremely quick, but the ability to handle images is a plus -especially for anybody reworking marketing documents without access to the original files.

Another handy feature for anyone looking to publish information is the ability to print from any application to a PDF file. PaperPort adds a print driver to the Printers and Faxes control panel under Windows XP, so all you need to do is press print to produce a PDF document for marketing or training. PDF support is a standout feature, and it's extremely straightforward to pull pages from existing documents to create new files.

The application is designed to help save time around the office, and includes a Form Typer specifically aimed at working with forms. You can scan in a form -- say, an application form -- and the application will allow you to move between and fill in the blank spaces. From here, you can either convert the completed document to a PDF file and email it, or print out your answers directly onto the original form. Very handy.

Despite its complexities, PaperPort maintains a relatively simple interface, closely mirroring that of Windows Explorer. It are little more cluttered than previous versions, but still easy to get used to. Thumbnail views of pages are available, and a file browser sits down the left pane. The Workspace can be tweaked to suit your individual needs, and there's even a split-pane layout that allows you to monitor two areas at once. It's possible to leaf through pages of a document on screen, and even to drag and drop pages onto others to create merged files. The application can be set to monitor certain folders and incoming e-mail and automatically move files into PaperPort to be worked on later.

All up, PaperPort makes it extremely straightforward to keep track of (and get extra value from) your paper documents in a digital world, and it doesn't take long before you begin to rely on the application to manage your data extensively.

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