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iPhone users at work – taking docs with you

I wrote earlier about how I take my text notes from my notebook with me by scanning and importing into the iPhone using Annotator. I use a different technique for keeping track of documents at the office.

There are a lot of folks writing about having all of their documents on a server (in the Cloud?) that they access anytime they need to. Having tried this for over a year, I have found spotty 3G inside of buildings and offices without WiFi limiting my ability to have quick access to what I need, when I need it. I need it now, most often the question comes up in an office hallway. “I don’t like the way the address shows on the invoice” mean very little to me, being able to look at a copy anytime on my iPhone saves many ‘later’ meetings.

There are two methods I use depending on access to the document. If the document is in a meeting and I can’t take it with me, I snap a picture and clean up with JotNot (link opens iTunes App Store). The app allows you to straighten the document if the image isn’t straight on and fine tune the image – black and white conversion is popular but I usually leave the document in color. A key to finding an app that works best to you is using one that is fast – you do not want to be in a meeting spending two minutes aligning the phone and document.

Screen shot 2009-11-29 at 8.21.29 AM

A fun add on to have in your office, especially important if you shake a bit (JotNot does have anti-shake built in) is a stand to put your paper doc on that holds your iPhone at exactly the right height. It takes up room, but it is a huge hit for the guy in the office next to me. You can get the plan for free, a cardboard punch out or a MLF version via Ponoko. Yup, you pretty much have to be a ‘real geek’ to have this.

Screen shot 2009-11-29 at 7.59.00 AM

As long as the document is back in my office, it is easier to manage with a inexpensive scanner.

On the desktop in my office, I use Documents-to-Go (link opens iTunes app store). After purchasing the iPhone app, you get the desktop sync software (Mac and PC) for free. The desktop software can look at a folder you choose to sync to your iPhone with. I just drag-n-drop any Excel, PowerPoint, PDFs, or Docs to this folder… actually, I have my scanner pointed to it too so anything I scan drops right in there to sync onto my iPhone. Since my office desktop is connected to the network over a cable, I have the built in WiFi set up as a AdHoc network with my iPhone.

Screen shot 2009-11-29 at 8.22.03 AM

Having this set up, I just launch Documents-to-Go, on my iPhone and hit the Sync button on the desktop app… seconds later I have a quick reference of everything in my iPhone. You can do all the usual Docs2Go features for managing, editing or forwarding to others that you need. Out of pocket (excluding the desktop and iPhone I already had): $11.99 Full version of Documents-to-Go, $4.99 JotNot, and $79 desktop Scanner (ecost.com and tigerdirect.com has deals all the time).

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