NeatReceipts® utilizes a Neat™ portable scanner and NeatWorks for Mac software to scan receipts, business cards, and documents which you can store. From that information you can create expense reports, searchable PDF files, assign tax categories (US and Canada), and maintain IRS-accepted copies of your receipts. You can also export data to Excel or Quicken.
The Neat portable scanner
Neatworks software icon
With the business card scanning function you can send contact information to Address Book and sync contacts to an iPhone or mobile device.
Another feature allows you to organize documents in folders and subfolders, create Smart Folders and send electronic files directly to NeatWorks through the Print dialog box.
The software features drag-and drop functionality, multiple views, and is integrated with Spotlight.
The NeatWorks for Mac software is available as a standalone product and is compatible with Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner models as well as HP Officejet J6480, Canon Pixma MP480, and Canon Pixma MX310. There are other scanners listed as compatible. The MSRP for NeatReceipts for Mac is $US199.95. The NeatWorks software without the scanner is available for US$80.00.
Using the software
Since I’m the poor smuck who does my taxes and since I recently finished them for 2010, I was immediately interested in the receipt functions of this software. But first I had to figure out how it worked. It works just fine if you open the NeatWorks software before you start scanning. If you don’t, the little scanner gets confused about where to send things and, in my case, my Preview scanning window kept opening. Once I followed the proper sequence, everything was fine and dandy. It is also important to note that the first time you open the software all of your Address Book entries will automatically be added to the software database.
Before you scan it is important that you set the parameters of your scan so that you get the quality you desire. You do that by making the necessary selections from the in box in the menu bar. When you switch from types, such as colored business cards to black and white receipts, it is important to reset those parameters.
An example of working with a receipt
I ran a receipt through the scanner. The software performed OCR, then analyzed the document, identified it as a receipt, opened a receipt window, and filled in the information it could gather. It did a good job of transferring information with one exception. The receipt I used was watermarked and the scanner was unable to get a clean image of information that fell over the watermark. I had to enter that information (tax paid) manually. Then I was able to select the tax schedule and from a submenu, and choose an appropriate category for the expense.
Working with business cards is not quite so smooth. The software has no problem identifying the scans as business cards, but depending on the card, there may be problems with the automatic retrieval of all the necessary information. For instance, light gray print does not pick up well. Nor does color print on color background. In these cases you will have to either drag-and-drop from the card to the appropriate field, or enter the text by hand. Even so, the process is faster than entering all the data by hand and you have the added benefit of retaining an image of the card for your files.
You can use drag-and-drop to add the finished record to your Address Book, or to a folder or sub folder.
Documents scan easily and the software intuits that the scans are documents because of the size. You have no control over the dpi of the scan, but what a great way to keep copies of receipts, business cards, invoices, other documents together in one folder in one place.
As an added bonus, there are video tutorials available on the company web site.
Do I recommend it?
I did not think I would find this product to be particularly useful to the average person, but I find that I was wrong, and I do recommend it to anyone who has to maintain records that include receipts, records, contacts, and projects. Certainly tax records. I will start now catching up all my receipts that are related to taxes for the first part of 2011 so I can continue to document for the rest of the year. Maybe this time next year I will actually remember how many times I purchased ink for my printer and I won’t have to look through a stack of paper to try and figure it out and back up my numbers.
As I talked to a few people about NeatReceipts I found that company reps and others who travel for their businesses swear by NeatWorks. They like the Neat scanner even though it is something extra to carry because it works so well with the software.