Go From Paper To All Digital Using Google Drive
This is a very basic post but it has come up a few times and friends have asked about how I do it so let me share how I have completely gotten rid of all my physical paper documents.
The basic concept is that it has gotten much easier to store documents online. The service I use is Google Drive which has an app for both android and iOS, making it easy to edit, upload, scan, download and manage all your documents either at home or when mobile.
Alternatively you can use Dropbox, OneDrive or other online storage applications, but nothing has come close to Drive’s functionality in my opinion. These are the top 3 reigning champions, let me know if you use something else with equivalent functionality.
There is a lot more to this than just storing, let me tell you how amazing Google Drive is.
- scan documents by taking pictures with your phone
- you can email it to your account in order to archive it
- print directly to Drive (stores it as a PDF)
- you can drag and drop file into Drive within your browser
- click the Drive icon in your Gmail and automatically save any attachment to your Drive
- edit any document online on your laptop or phone
- you can store movies, pictures, text, PowerPoint
- you can edit PDF any way you like, delete text, add text, add signature
- you can store copies of driver’s license, social security card, credit cards for quick access
- on android you can use the scan feature on the app to scan documents
- there is no charge for any of this!!
I’m jumping to this first because I end up having to do a lot of work with PDF’s. I get emailed documents and applications in this format which I have to fill out, sign or edit in some manner. Printing it, filling it out, scanning it and then sending it… way too tedious.
I do this all digitally now by first uploading the PDF into Google Drive and then I can choose what application I want to open it with. Various applications are available for free from Google Drive and don’t need actual installing. In my case I use DocHub.
I can then open the document and edit it in any way I like. I don’t mean just fill in blank areas. I can remove text, add text, add in my signature in cursive and I can check boxes and do all sorts of other shit. It’s absolutely brilliant… and free!
In the screenshot below you can see all the various tools at your disposal for editing your PDF document.
The final word on PDFs is that with Google Drive you can create your own PDFs. Any document you create in Drive, whether a text, image or spreadsheet can be saved in PDF format. This is helpful when you want to send over an image with lots of pictures and have it not be so data-intensive.
I don’t own a printer, I don’t own a scanner and I’m not planning on it. I didn’t care for having to buy toners, cartridges and paper. It irked me having to deal with finicky printers and setting up drivers and installing software etc.
I rarely need to print documents, can’t even recall the last time I needed to. However, the last time I did I used Kinko’s online site to upload my document and have it printed and ready for pickup. You can also print things online and have it mailed to yourself or to someone else. The cost-savings of not having a printer/fax/scanner is huge in my opinion.
Staples allows you to do the same thing as Kinko’s and on their website you can even design more intricate banners, signs and posters.
In order to scan documents on android you can simply use the Drive application from Google to scan the document by taking a picture of it. It has a brilliant way of adjusting angles so that it will look EXACTLY like a scanned image. Try it, you’ll be impressed.
For iOS either download the app Genius Scan, which is free, in order to scan your documents or just take pictures and upload it to Google Drive. I use Genius Scan because I like to have PDF documents with all the pages attached, it helps me stay more organized.
Printing To Google Drive
In Google Chrome you can access a page or document and instead of printing it to a printer you are given 2 great options:
- Print to PDF
- Print to Google Drive
I use option #2 anytime I want to save something to my Drive. It’s the easiest way to save receipts or copies of online documents such as medical licenses, DEA’s, CME reports etc.
Creating Images And Slides
I give presentations from time to time and create a lot of graphics for this website. Google Drive has a slides maker (think, PowerPoint) and something called Google Draw which is great to quickly sketch something up. I make my drawings using Google Draw for the most part which is a big time saver for me.
Organizing Your Folders
I have my folders broken up into the following and in parenthesis I included the sub-folders.
- UCC blog (images, post ideas, receipts)
- Personal (journal, letters of rec, personal statements, archived documents, divorce stuff, legal stuff)
- Business (biz ideas, biz plans)
- Important Documents (SS & DL, birth cert, CC’s, passport copy)
- Urgent Care Job (application, work notice, job documents)
- New Job Application (copy of application, various locations I’m applying to)
- Recipes (sweets, meals)
- Photos (added by Google)
- Financial (retirement, investments, financial adviser, real estate, statements)
If your concern is that your account could be hacked into and that information stolen then I recommend not keeping that stuff online or encrypting it. Google automatically encrypts whatever you upload but you can add a password protection through third-party applications for added security.