Starting this semester, I challenged myself to significantly reduce the amount of paper I use. I began this process last semester when I bought a document scanner last semester and I really took it up a notch this semester. Going paperless may be good for the environment, but it’s not always cheap. The solution that I will outline below is what I have used this semester to much success but, it isn’t cheap! I already many of these things but, for someone starting from scratch it may look expensive. Below is the solution that I employed and worked great for me!
Document Scanner: I typically scan any papers I get for class, usually every day, using my Doxie Document Scanner. The scanner is extremely easy to use and has great software. The one downside is that papers get scanned crooked sometimes and can be frustrating at times. Either way it works fairly well and lets me turn all my papers into PDF files and It also does photo scanning as a bonus.
Some professors post their class papers online, for download or if it’s just a webpage I can print it to PDF. This is an option built into Mac OSX ‘s print menu as well as on Linux. Windows users can add this feature easily as well by installing the CutePDF writer which creates a fake printer that will save documents as PDF files.
Dropbox: I have sung the praises so many times in past blog posts, I lost count. I use Dropbox for all my documents including my scanned documents. This way I can have access to them anywhere and I know they are backed-up incase tragedy strikes. I also use an iOS app that I will discuss next to synchronize my documents to my iPhone and iPad.
Good Reader: Good Reader is a great reading app for iOS and allows you to sync documents from a wide variety of cloud services to your device for offline access. I use Good Reader to have offline access to read all my documents on my iPhone and iPad. The app is $5 for both the iPad and iPhone version but, it is the best solution that I have found to access my Dropbox files offline. One other downside is that you have to manually setup each individual folder to sync which is tedious but, you only have to do it once. Good Reader also doesn’t automatically sync your files making you have to manually synchronize your files.
E-Books: For those who are a bit more adventurous, you can get many textbooks and other books as electronic books either on the Kindle or iBook Store. I used a kindle book on my iPad for one of my classes just to try it and it was a great experience. E-books are save a lot of space and can be easily searched to quickly find information, they also allow you to adjust the font size of the text to make it the optimal size for you to read. However there are a few downsides, first, e-books tend to be a bit more expensive than if you buy a used version. Also, when your done with the book, you can’t sell your book like many students do with their old textbooks, this issue can be alleviated by renting books through Amazon Kindle store, but it doesn’t save all that much money over just buying the book.