There used to be only one answer to the question “How do you scan a document?”: with a big, cumbersome, heavy scanner that was expensive and had to be physically connected to your desktop computer.

If you didn’t have the means to buy your own scanner and scan documents at home, you had to try and locate the nearest FedEx Office or print shop, drive there, and use your credit card to pay for each and every document you scanned.

Talk about the Stone Age!

So how do you scan a document in the 21st century? Like so many things in the digital age, the answer is whenever and wherever you want.

Scanners are now more lightweight and compact than ever. You can purchase a travel scanner to scan your documents on the go, scan documents in the comfort of your home or office, or even scan documents using your smartphone.

When using a scanner like the Fujitsu Scansnap, all you have to do is place your document (or stack of documents) into the scanner’s feed tray. The scanner will do the rest, scanning a page every 7.5 seconds.

What’s more, modern scanners create digitized documents at 600 DPI, ensuring the scanned copy will be crystal clear and easy to read.

Another great feature of modern-day document scanning is the ability to digitize your data. When you scan a document, the scanning software will capture the data from whatever hard copy document you’ve scanned. It will then present that data in a variety of searchable forms, making it easy to create reports using Microsoft Excel or export data to a PDF. You can then incorporate this data into expense reports or other tax documents, and easily share it with colleagues, co-workers, and your tax professional.

When you’re on the go, the easiest way to scan a document is to simply snap a photo of it with your smartphone. Shoeboxed is a company that offers receipt scanning software for your iPhone or Android via their smartphone app. Whenever you need to scan a receipt or document, simply open their app on your phone and snap a picture of it. The information from the document will be automatically scanned and synced within your secure online account. You can then recycle the hard copy and prevent paper clutter from collecting in your home, office or car.

Shoeboxed is also great if you have massive stacks of paper that need to be scanned. Instead of snapping a photo of each individual piece of paper, simply place the stack within one (or several) of their Magic Envelopes. Drop the envelope in the mail, and sit back and relax as the Shoeboxed team does the scanning for you. In this way, the answer to the question “How do you scan a document?” becomes “You don’t – you let someone else do it!”

Whether you’re scanning from home or snapping photos on the go, it’s never been easier to scan a document, go paperless, get organized and stay that way.

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