My digital files are made up of two general categories:  word files which I write myself (covered in a different post), and all other files.  The broad “other” category consists of faxed documents, scanned documents, and emailed documents, among others.

It’s fairly evident what to do with documents you write yourself.  If not, see the (File and Smile!) post.  If your intention is to go completely digital, you’ll want a way to manage all things mailed, faxed, and emailed to you (as well as handed to you by, say, a client).  Ideally, everything follows the same storage system you’ve set up in order to store the documents you compose yourself.

I receive my faxed documents with my Brother All-In-One (copier, fax, scanner) which converts them directly to digital files.  You will receive them with whatever fax you own, which may differ from mine a bit, but the information I offer should be universal to all machines.  When you receive a file, right click on the name, rename it (using the File! protocol mentioned above) and drag and drop it into the file in which it belongs.  For a demonstration, click on this link:  (video under construction–please write about it in the comments section if time’s a-wasting)

Scanned documents will open in a window after you’ve completed the scan.  Right click on the document name, and rename it.  Then drag and drop it into it’s “destination” folder.

My All-In-One comes with software called Scansoft, which offers more flexibility in naming and moving files than those I’ve used in the past. The software packaged with any fax/scanner varies between machines.  I mention Brother in this blog because I had to trade up from the less workable HP all-in-one I owned previously in order to get the features which allowed me to work more efficiently.  Brother doesn’t pay for this plug (though I wish they did).

Client’s sometimes use email either to update me on recent events or to send completed homework assignments ahead of their session.  I like to convert those emails to pdf files (a more versatile file type) before storing them in a client’s folder.  When I convert them, I change the name, using the protocol described in my File! post.

You can convert emails in a couple of ways.  You may already have a pdf converter app installed in your system as part of another software package.  To test this, find a print icon somewhere in or around an open email and click on it.  A window should open which will allow you to choose the “destination” (the printer).  If there is a “print to pdf” option, or anything that says “pdf”, click on it and click print.  Choose the destination; if you’re just learning, “desktop” is a safe choice, because the file will end up on your desktop where you can find it easily.  Once you get good at this, you can select the correct client folder for the document; using this single procedure you can then convert, rename, and store your file.

If no pdf converter appears to be installed on your system, you can download PDF Creator (freeware) from pdfforge.  Download the link, install it, and then try again to print your document.  This time you should see a pdf convert option when you hit print.

As a therapist I digitally store (and need to be able to easily find) a number of intake documents which have been filled out, read, and signed by my clients.  You may work with deeds, bonds, contracts, wills, or other legal instruments.  Scanning works for most signed documents, unless a copied signature will not suffice.  But scanning is not a favorite part of my daily routine–not nearly as rewarding as face-to-face client time, reading current research, or other inspirational and creative pursuits.  So a new Adobe web-based tool called EchoSign has me calculating the time I’ll save when scanning intake documents is no longer a part of my routine.  I used EchoSign to create, send, and sign some test documents.  I created a beautiful (in my eyes, anyway) client information sheet by dragging “form fields” (boxes to type stuff into) onto an existing form and then emailed it (to myself via a second email account) in encrypted form with a code I selected.  Once received, I clicked on a window, entered the code, filled out and signed the document, and emailed it back.  I easily downloaded the returned, signed document.  Test it out with any of your digital documents, and I’ll keep you posted as I begin to use in in my practice.

Teaching the nuts and bolts of a digital storage system is new to me.  Mastering a skill over many hours spent in “isolation” doesn’t necessarily translate to teaching it skillfully.  Your comments are part of the collaboration–write and let me know if you get stumped, or if you like what I’ve written.

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