Going Paperless Quick Tip: Edit Scanned PDFs Directly in Evernote

I spent much of my weekend scanning nearly 1,300 pages worth of documents in the filing cabinet. The only reason I did it is because we’re getting rid of the filing cabinet to make way for some new furniture.

I scanned all of the pages using my Fujitsu Scansnap s1300i, and in all of those pages, I didn’t have a single jam or problem.

That said, some types of scans are more difficult for scanners to figure out than others. Occasionally, one page will scan in upside down, while the next page is right-side up. Then, too, if the pages are thin, even one sided pages get 2 pages in the scan because the text from one side will bleed through to the other. I used to rescan all of these documents, which was a pain. But since Evernote made it possible to edit your PDFs directly inline (in the Mac version for now), I can take care of this easily from right within the note. I figured I’d describe how I’d do it so that you can see how you can do it for yourself.

Here’s a letter I scanned from my grandpa:

Inline Edit 1


Note that the first page was scanned upside down, and the second page is actually the text of the first page that bled through (thin typing paper) and was interpreted by the scanner as the back of the first page.

To correct this, I clicked on the edit button on the attachment bar for the PDF:

Inline Edit 2

When you click on this, a new window opens up with all kinds of options for annotating your PDF. You can add arrows and text. You can highlight. What isn’t as obvious is the pulldown menu that allows you to rotate and delete pages. Since I wanted to rotate that first page so that it was right-side-up, I clicked on that menu, like this:

Inline Edit 3

Of course, you can press Command-R to rotate a page clockwise. I did this twice in order to get the page right-side-up:

Inline Edit 4

Next, since the “second” page was really just the first page bleeding through the thin typing paper, I could delete that page and shrink down the size of my PDF. I did this by selecting the page in question, and then clicking the menu and selecting the delete option:

Inline Edit 5

I repeated this as necessary for the pages in the letter, and the result, when I finished, was a two-page letter with both pages oriented correctly.

Inline Edit 6

This has become a standard practice for me. In addition to updating the meta-data of the note (tags, title, note date, etc.) when I scan it in, I also make sure the pages are properly oriented and unneeded pages are deleted. I’d say 1 in 50 scans I do require this type of edit to the PDF. The Scansnap s1300i is very good at scanning. But at least now, I have a way of editing the scanned document right from within Evernote without having to re-scan. Any anything that saves me time and gives me better PDFs is a win in my book.

If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let know me. Send it to me at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin.com. As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts is also available on Pinterest.

Last week’s post: Prototype: Automatically Send Kindle Notes and Highlights to Evernote.

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15 thoughts on “Going Paperless Quick Tip: Edit Scanned PDFs Directly in Evernote

  1. Great tip Jamie! I never knew that the little drop down option was there. I had just left the extra pages in the pdf’s as I didn’t know an easy way to fix. I must agree that the Fujitsu S1300i is super efficient and has caused me no problems in the 2-4 months I have been using it so far.

  2. Hi Jamie, is this feature available in the Windows version of EN as well? If not, would you be aware as the EN ambassador when it would be available?

  3. Nik, in-line editing and annotating of image files (JPGs, PNGs, etc.) is available in the current Windows version, but editing PDFs in-line is not yet available. I don’t have any information on when this will become available, but I’ve noticed they have been adding more and more to Windows lately.

  4. This feature isn’t available in the Windows version of Evernote. Editing PDF’s still requires the full version of Adobe Acrobat. Do the new Fujitsu scanners still include that?

    Can’t wait until EN adds this to the Windows version. I’m sick of being held captive by Adobe. I wish there was a good open source program that would allow me to edit PDF’s the same way.

  5. Maybe I missed the underlying info, but does this scanner work on the Mac thru TWAIN scanning or is there specific scanning directly into evernote?

    I have a network attached scanner / MFC (Brother) and really want to get this to work scanning directly into evernote without two step, once to the folder and then import into Evernote.

    I’ve looked at the newer evernote branded scanner, but don’t want to buy hardware when I have a perfectly good network scanner!

  6. Thanks for the tip. I find using my iphone with Camscanner or Scanner Pro a more convenoent option for scanning and editing documents quickly. Time between scans is lower than a scanner, and quality is comparable.

  7. Forgive me if you’ve mentioned this in another post, but I’m curious where you stand on keeping personal documents after scanning into Evernote. By personal I mean the letter from your grandfather. Many unclutter/minimalist articles have suggested even taking snapshots of physical mementos and then getting rid of them.

    From an archive and clutter free perspective the digital solution seems pragmatic and alluring but there is that hearstring pull for the original drawing from my daughter. The physical.

  8. Shawn, I’m less sentimental when it comes to the physical object, than I am the data contained in that object. In the letters from my grandfather, for instance, I’m much more concerned about the content than the fact that I can hold the letter in my hand. So for me, scanning it, and getting rid of the original is not a problem. I still have the content and I still have the sentiment, and in the extreme, if I needed to hold the letter again, I could print it out.

    There is a very wide spectrum when it comes to sentiment, however. Some people want the original thing and that is fine, too. You’ve got to do what you’re most comfortable with. One solution is to scan and save. You have the best of both, the digital version and the original.

  9. I wish I could do this with PDF’s, but there’s no support for on windows. It’s been too long…

  10. I use WonderPDF to edit PDFs. It works great. If I simply need to merge a PDF, I use PDFMergy (free). There is no direct Windows EN interface, but it is possible until Evernote adds this to the Windows version.

  11. I tried to find WonderPDF but didn’t get any good hits. Are you referring to Wondershare PDF Editor? Just want to be sure I’m checking out the right program! 🙂

    I have the full Adobe Acrobat package on my “scan station” computer since it came with my Fujitsu scanner. But I sync my scanned docs to other computers where I want to be able to view/manage/edit/merge/rename/delete all those PDFs to get them organized. The Fujitsu Scansnap Organizer software is nice, but it doesn’t seem to work on Windows 8.1 which is what I’m running on my main laptop where I do most of my work.

    Trying to use native Windows functionality with the preview pane is SO frustrating because if you’re previewing a PDF, it won’t let you rename or delete the file because it is “in use” by the preview pane. Ugh!

  12. I just installed the free trial and it looks like there is also a feature to merge PDF’s. It’s the “Combine” button on the Home tab.

    This software looks pretty sweet. But what I really want is something similar to ScanSnap Organizer where I can easily view a folder full of PDF’s with a preview pane or thumbnail view. Then I can quickly see what the document is so I can rename it, delete it, move it to a new folder, etc.

  13. Sorry, it is WonderPDF Editor. It does have a combine function, but I think PDFMergy is easier to use if I only want to merge PDFs because I use it as a Chrome app. I only have a single page scanner. Hoping to make that work, albeit a little slow, rather than spending the money on a ScanPage. I am trying to eliminate all incoming paper to my life.
    I don’t use the preview pane in Windows because it does mark the file as in use. It is of little benefit for me.
    I have a WorkInProgress folder on my Google that I use on my Windows laptop. When I finish with the work on Windows, I move it to Evernote where it syncs on all of my devices (2 iPads and Android phone) with the correct title, tags, and notebook. Since the Google drive is on all of my devices, I can work on them from any device. Yes, it is a two step process process that gets me on and off my Windows laptop pretty easily.

  14. I just spent some time messing around with the Fujitsu software I have, and I think I have this working now on Windows 8.1! So…. I downloaded the latest version of ScanSnap Organizer which appears to be running fine on my Win 8.1 laptop. Within the Organizer program, you can tell it to use the built-in “ScanSnap Organizer Viewer” to open your PDF’s, rather than whatever other native app you might have installed (ie. Adobe Reader). Their viewer allows you to rotate and delete pages. I can also rename files while in the ScanSnap Organizer software while viewing a thumbnail preview. Nice!

    So, next I set Windows to use the ScanSnap Organizer Viewer software as the default program when opening PDFs. Now, when I open a scanned PDF from inside Evernote, it opens up in the ScanSnap software and I can do basic page manipulation as Jamie mentions in this article.

    Problem solved — and I didn’t need to spend any money on new software! 🙂

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