Organizing Map Chaos: A Review of the Doxie One Scanner

Box o Maps
Box o Maps

I don’t like carrying around big maps so I’ll often print off small, pocket sized maps before hitting the trail. See that box? It’s full of them. I’ll reuse maps until they fall apart from regular pocket-shoving. The problem is finding them again. When I have a giant pile like this (did I mention it’s not the only box?), how am I going to find that one specific map I’m looking for? Or even know if I still have it? There are two things I’ve wanted to do with this pile to solve these problems:

1. Scan everything into Evernote so that I have a searchable database of my maps

2. Organize the pile by park/location/whatever

This project has been haunting me for a while, but I’ve decided to take it on using my recently acquired Doxie One scanner.

The Doxie One is a small paper scanner that comes with a lot of parts, some of which I’ll never use (power converters) and some of which I don’t understand (I think they are part of a cleaning kit?) However, the instruction manual is clear enough to get me scanning within seconds. I don’t even have to touch my computer yet because everything is scanned onto an SD card.

Doxie one box contents

I grab a nearby map from my recent trip to Death Valley and send it through the Doxie. It scans pretty easily despite the wrinkles and folds. I scan a couple more and decide to figure out how to get these scans off the SD card and into Evernote.

The manual sends me to a URL to download the software. I quickly download the software for my computer (Mac with OS X) and open it up. It tells me to connect the Doxie (with provided USB cable) or just insert the SD card. I pull the card from the scanner and stick it in the side of my Mac and the software recognizes it right away and shows thumbnails of the three maps I scanned.

From this thumbnail view I can delete or rotate, or I can click into the details and do much more advanced manipulation. These images are pretty straightforward so all I do is rotate them.

Remember, what I want is a searchable database of my maps. This is a map of Mount Perry, so the likely search term here would be ‘perry’. The word is already on the map a couple of times (on the topo itself as well as handwritten), and since Evernote is so good at searching (even text within images), I’m going to keep the defaults and not bother renaming it for now. Since I have a lot of maps I’m not going to want to spend a lot of time manipulating and renaming individual scans so I’ll see how well I do with defaults.

I’m going to send them to Evernote and see what happens. I click on the send button and see some options, but I’ll explore those later. I select Send to Evernote.

Hm, nothing happens except my Evernote client pops to the front, displaying the notebook I have most recently been working in. But I don’t see my scans. I click back to the Doxie software and now see a green check mark over each image. Maybe that means they have been sent to Evernote? I go back to Evernote to check.

Now, I have thousands of notes in Evernote, organized into a complicated heirarchy of notebooks and tags. Where on earth do these scans go? I check the default notebook first and there they are – my three scans uploaded as individual notes.

That was quick and easy! Not counting the time that I spent downloading and installing the software, it probably took me less than five minutes to scan and upload the files to Evernote.  Note that I never had to connect Doxie and Evernote. Since I had the Evernote client open already, I’m assuming the link was made in the background.

But now I want to customize two things.

1. Can I set a different default notebook for the scans I send to Evernote?

2. Can I change the format of the scan?

Back to Doxie…I click on the file menu and question number two is answered right away.

I even find out that I can set file type based on the application I send scans to. So, if I wanted my scans to go to Dropbox as PDFs and Evernote as JPGs? I could.

But I can’t figure out where to set a default notebook on Evernote. I drag my scanned notes into a ‘Maps’ notebook that I created for my archive. It’s an extra manual step but not a big deal.

Here’s where Evernote brings the awesome. Remember how there was text scribbled on the paper map? Lets search for ‘perry’. It finds the Doxie scan right away, and the character recognition is so good it actually captures my note containing the outline of this blog post with a SCREENSHOT of that image! (Totally like Inception)

Finding my Mt Perry Scan in Evernote
Finding my Mt Perry Scan in Evernote
It even finds it in my outline note for this blog post!
It even finds it in my outline note for this blog post!

With the basics out of the way I return to the Doxie to explore some of the more advanced features. I scan two more pieces of paper – a map of the American River Recreation Area as well as a two sided brochure describing one of the trails. The brochure is a bit crumpled and the Doxie One has a little trouble pulling it through so I needed to do it a few times. Here’s one of the failed attempts:

Crumpled paper
Crumpled paper

Eventually I have three clean scans, and I use the ‘staple’ button to link the two sides of the brochure into one scan.

Before
Before
And after
And after

After some research I was reminded that you can actually set a notebook or tag in Evernote using the Doxie software, but it’s via the document naming like this: “name @notebook #tag”. So I rename these two scans as follows:

American River Map @Maps #2012canfest (the tag I use for other content from the trip where we visited this area)

Quarry Trail @Maps #2012canfest

Now, when I send to Evernote these two scans should show up in the Maps folder, tagged with 2012canfest.

There they are, in my Maps notebook. the quarry trail is a single note with both sides (‘stapled’) and the map is also there. Both are tagged appropriately. Nice!

Uploaded Doxie Scans in Maps notebook
Uploaded Doxie Scans in Maps notebook

So if I wanted to associate a map with a trip I might do it like this “Mount Perry Map @maps #thanksgiving2012″. Unfortunately, I learned about this trick through private email, and didn’t see it in the documentation. This also seems like it will add a lot of effort to my map scanning project, since I was looking forward to using the defaults and leveraging the Evernote search capabilities.

With Doxie you can scan to many other services (Dropbox, for one example), but my specific scanning use cases fall around Evernote since it is only when the scans are combined with the robust OCR and search mechanisms of Evernote that I find scanning useful. The whole point, for me, is to avoid all that time rummaging through boxes (or files), trying to find something that I may or may not have. Now I know if I have a copy, whether is is worth looking for, and have the option of just printing off a new version without digging around the web for the information like I did originally. I have a big project ahead but it is far less daunting than before.

Pros
    • Super quick and easy to get up and running with the Doxie One, thanks to the SD card.
    • The software is very easy to use and understand, significantly more so than other scanner products that I’ve used.
    • Paired with Evernote this is a very powerful way for me to solve problems I have with maps and paper management in general
    • Scanning to an SD card means that what you do with the scanned content is much more flexible and portable.
Cons
    • It doesn’t scan damaged paper (folded, crumpled) as smoothly as other scanners I’ve used
    • The tagging and notebook labeling is cumbersome when scanning a large number of documents. I wish I could simply set a default tag or notebook for a large set of scans.

Disclosure: Doxie provided this Doxie One device to me for free but all opinions and content here are my own.

Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd

Free range human. Mountain sports addict. Craft beer drinker. Tech nerd. The best days are those spent above 10k ft. Team OmniTen and Evernote Ambassador. Meet me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +

  • Judi F.

    Since it’s easy enough to change the default notebook in Evernote, I suggest that you just make it a part of your workflow. When you sit down to do a bunch of scans of maps, change the default notebook to Maps. When you’re done importing them to Evernote, change your default notebook back again. I’ve done this when scanning piles of old clipped or printed recipes and it worked well for me.

    • calipidder

      Great tip! I have another scanner that just uses whatever notebook you’re currently working in (so if I had the Maps notebook open it would just send things there automatically).