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secretaryThe world of business is a tough one indeed. Anyone will tell you that. From the guys at the top earning billions per year to the lowly freelancer, tucked away in a small home office. The big jobs are often the easiest. There’s nothing like landing a huge contract or finishing off that job you know will earn you more work. The small things however like administration and document control are annoying.

For all the small business owners, and indeed the tech geeks who just love new apps to play around with; here are three great online office apps that will help you reduce all of that paperwork.

Online OCR

This tool will take care of a lot of boring transcription that we all have to do now and again. I often find myself transcribing accounts and business plans into a text editor when I really should be using this tool.

reduce paperwork


To put it bluntly, it takes a scanned image of a document or a PDF file and transforms it into an editable text document such as MS Word or MS Notepad (*.txt file). This service is free – to an extent. There is no registration required and you can convert five pages every hour as an unregistered user which is plenty for small business owners. For registered users, the first five pages are free but after that every page costs 10 cents. I’d imagine this is only for large businesses who would be scanning documents with hundreds of pages in a short period of time.

We have previously covered other OCR applications such as Varun’s review of JOCR How To Extract Text From Images (OCR) - Windows Only How To Extract Text From Images (OCR) - Windows Only Read More and Saikat’s Top 5 Free OCR Software Tools Top 5 Free OCR Software Tools To Convert Images Into Text Top 5 Free OCR Software Tools To Convert Images Into Text Read More .

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Fill Any PDF

Many of us will have to fill in several forms when tax returns are due, insurance policies are required or indeed for business procedures. It’s common practice to receive those forms in PDF format either by e-mail or by downloading them and then printing them out to fill in by hand.

FillAnyPDF is an extremely easy-to-use online PDF form editor that allows you to fill in a PDF form using a text editor or freehand writing. What’s more, you can also create your own PDF forms and share them online with other people and request they fill them in using this editor.

reduce paperwork

Obviously security is a big issue when dealing with confidential forms online so FillAnyPDF gives you the option to ‘whiteout’ certain areas and only make those areas visible to the person the form is intended for. The last thing you need is somebody having access to your social security number and personal details.

We have discussed in the past various other options.   Ones that immediately spring to mind are Karl’s review of PDFVue Use PDFVue To Fill Froms & Edit PDF Files For Free Online Use PDFVue To Fill Froms & Edit PDF Files For Free Online Read More and Jackson’s review of FormulatePro Overcome Online Forms With Formulatepro [Mac] Overcome Online Forms With Formulatepro [Mac] Read More which is a Mac option.

WatchDox

As we touched on above, security is paramount concerning business documents. But you can’t exactly put a PDF in a briefcase and handcuff it to yourself. It’s impractical and sort of weird. Plus I’m sure every thief that sees you will definitely want that briefcase.

reduce paperwork

Anyway, this is a method of sharing pretty much any document online, in a secure environment with the intended recipients.

Here is how it works:

  1. You upload the document, enter the recipients e-mail address and set the security measures on the document such as an expiration or curtain.
  2. You add instructions for the recipient concerning the document (optional).
  3. Then the recipient gets an e-mail with a link to the document.
  4. They can view the document with registration or downloading anything.
  5. He or she cannot copy or download the document without your direct permission.
  6. Once the expiry date comes the document is destroyed and is no longer viewable online.

I think this is actually one of the best ways of sharing documents in business these days because, as governments and banks around the globe have shown us, CDs, e-mails and hard copy documents have a habit of going missing along with tonnes of valuable information.

Hopefully these three tools will make your office life flow a little smoother.  Which office apps do you use regularly?

Image Credit : foundphotoslj

  1. Christopher Altman
    November 18, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Another great application to reduce paperwork for small business is Perq (perqworks.com). Perq helps create and track employee paid time off (PTO). Perq is integrated with Outlook, Google Calendar, and iCal, Perq helps companies define vacation, sick, and personal time off policies, and Perq makes requesting time away from the office easy.

  2. Colin
    November 7, 2009 at 6:30 am

    Of the 3 apps listed, WatchDox looks amazing and very useable. Sadly it costs $600 for personal use, so it's back to encrypting docs and phoning passwords for me.

    $600 for personal use? In a recession? Good luck with that.

    • Amit
      November 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm

      Colin, indeed we price for businesses. Personal use is not of particular interest to us as that's not a big enough market. We found out that businesses were taking advantage of our pricing (see this article http://guidewiregroup.com/2009/11/could-the-end-of-free-be-near/).
      We have special promotions for various individual use Thanks,
      Amit (WatchDox team)

  3. Kaly
    November 6, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Thanks for pointing it out.

    Fixed now.

  4. Anon
    November 6, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    The correct link for online OCR is: http://www.onlineocr.net/

  5. Lewis Ellwanger
    November 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm

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