The Notepad is old and grody

How to go paperless the future-proof way (without using Evernote)

Scribbled  · PDF · ◊Pollen source

The short version:

When you want to run a search, open your archive folder and run a search. Need all tax-related documents for last year? Search for 2012 #taxes.

No subscriptions. No extra software. Guaranteed to be stay portable and useful for the next 20 years.

Why the hashtags? What about folders?

Using #tags #like #this in the filename is a universal tagging mechanism. It works on Mac OS and on Windows, and the searches on those systems will have no problem finding your files.

Sticking files in a folder hierarchy is a poor way of filing that is on its way out. For example, what do you do if a document is both medical and tax-related in nature? Do you create a Taxes → Medical folder structure, or Medical → Taxes?

Tags allow a document to live in more than one box at a time, are easy to add, and are easy to search for.

Why Not Evernote? Reasons, that’s why.

There have been a couple of great posts by others lately about going paperless, and they’re definitely worth reading. But they all assume you need some kind of fancy software setup, including (most commonly) a subscription plan to Evernote.

I agree it must be nice to have someone else run OCR on my documents and host them for me. But let’s look at the drawbacks:


NoelJanuary 11, 2014

You are that one person I was looking for, who went paperless without Evernote.

I have a question about your tags. Does your file name really look like you suggest in your format? If yes, how do you search these files in Windows OS? I do have Everything installed and use it quite often, still I can’t figure out, how can I use hashtags to search? Any pointers? Thanks in advance.

Renaud GuerinFebruary 28, 2014

On a Mac, you don’t even need to use the #ugly #filenames : Tags are natively supported in the Finder since OS X 10.9 Mavericks, and you can add any number of tags to any file.

Better yet, if OCR has done its job properly, your PDFs content will all be indexed by Spotlight already (this has existed since 10.4 Tiger in 2004, I believe) : you can just search for them from anywhere on your Mac.

The indexing / OCR features of Evernote are really useful for Windows users who lack all of that functionality built into the OS.

David BennettJuly 23, 2014

This is great! I have been concerned about Evernotes proprietary formatting.