ScanSoft PaperPort Professional 10 review

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PaperPort is a survivor from the distant past, when it came bundled with the original Visioneer sheet-fed scanner. Although immensely superior to its original incarnation, the current version is designed to fulfil very similar tasks, albeit on a much grander scale.

ScanSoft PaperPort Professional 10 review

PaperPort remains primarily a document manager, which lets you organise and file scanned documents and images, displayed as thumbnails on a Desktop. Originally, it was a standalone tool; today, it’s equally at home in the workgroup and enterprise environments. As before, there are two versions of the latest release, although the previous versions, Deluxe and Office Pro, have been replaced by the Standard (aimed at standalone users with a reduced feature set) and Professional versions, priced at £54 and £77, respectively.

PaperPort 10 Professional is aimed at those with mountains of paper documents thatÊneed to be filed away and yet instantly accessible. It’s therefore targeted at heavyweight scanning chores, although it works just as well if you already have a store of digital documents in a variety of formats. PaperPort Professional 10 sits between your scanner/OCR software and your normal office apps, easing the flow of tasks between them, as well as helping you keep track of everything.

At first glance, version 10 has had a modest makeover, with large XP-style icons dominating the toolbar, but its general appearance remains based on Windows Explorer’s UI. As such, novices will find PaperPort easy to understand. There’s a directory tree view on the left-hand pane displaying searchable folders with thumbnails of scanned documents, photos and other files. There’s also a variety of predefined folder categories to help you on your way.

Version 10 features new batch-scanning capabilities that let you scan several documents at once using an automatic document feeder, while its Scanner Enhancement Technology (SET) provides a collection of image-correction and annotation capabilities, including contrast adjustment, colour conversion, red-eye removal, sticky notes, highlighter, pointers, handprint notes and stamps. These are generally idiot-proof, one-click options: the De-skewing tool works well, while the De-speckling tool removes ‘snow’ from poor photocopies or faxes. Both are new and useful to this release.

ScanSoft has also introduced a ‘split Desktop’, which lets you open two folders at once and drag files from one to the other. This simple feature takes the hardship out of merging documents of different types (Word, Excel, RTF, graphics files, other PDFs) and locations into a single PDF. Furthermore, it offers thumbnail views of PDF pages (as opposed to file icons in version 9) that can be dragged and dropped into a new PDF.

At the bottom is a drag-and-drop toolbar of basic apps such as WordPad, Paint and Outlook Express, as well as Printer and FTP. You just drag a thumbnail down to whatever task you want and it’s executed immediately. So, if you drag a document down to WordPad, OCR automatically kicks in and converts the text. This is done fairly swiftly, although accuracy isn’t great and there’s no attempt to preserve formatting. This OCR taster is probably no more than a gentle hint to invest in ScanSoft OmniPage if your OCR needs are greater. It’s also easy to add other apps to this toolbar.

ScanSoft is becoming adept at pushing its complementary products by incorporating elements of them across its software range. Just as OmniPage 14 has text-to-speech facilities, PaperPort Professional 10 incorporates a full version of ScanSoft’s PDF Create! package. You can scan to as well as print, edit and distribute PDFs. Its feature support is thorough, supporting popular PDF capabilities such as annotations, notes and highlights; sending PDFs as email attachments; and converting static PDFs into electronic forms that can be filled out and printed. It can also automatically convert mixed document types into PDF email attachments, allowing users to assemble custom PDF files using drag and drop. New to this release is a web capture-to-PDF feature.

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