NeatReceipts for Mac (NeatWorks) Review

February 24, 2009

Neat Receipts for MacI’m terrible about handling paper – bills, receipts, invoices, you name it. I don’t do it well, and I seldom do it willingly. As a result, I’m usually desperately unorganized.

Last year, in an attempt to throw some technology at the problem, I picked up a Fujitsu ScanSnap S510M. It’s a nifty auto-feed double sided scanner with a decent package of included applications. It helped tremendously, scanning in papers, OCRing them, and converting them to searchable .pdf files. It worked, but the task was still just sheer drudgery.

Enter NeatReceipts. I’d read several reviews, and it sounded nifty, but it comes packaged with a scanner, and I already had a scanner. However, they’ve recently introduced a “software only” version (NeatWorks) for people who already have a scanner like the Fujitsu. I had my doubts, but I ordered a copy.

This thing rocks!

Getting it working with the Fujitsu was fairly straightforward, although I did have to update the Fujitsu Scan Manager software to the current version. Once I did that, NeatWorks recognized the scanner immediately, and scanned documents dropped right into the NeatWorks inbox.

Inbox? Yep. The NeatWorks application is laid out much like iPhoto, iTunes, and Documents added go to the inbox, where you can sort and classify them into folders. It even has a smart folder feature that works much like smart playlists. Documents are either (um) documents, receipts, or contacts.

That’s where the magic lies, in fact.

With the ScanSnap, my workflow was “scan a document, wait, name the document, save the document, wait, lather, rinse repeat”.

With NeatWorks, I just scan, scan, scan. Everything ends up in the inbox, ready to be processed.

When a document hits the inbox, NeatWorks OCRs it, and takes its best shot at guessing info off the document for metadata. At first, this isn’t terribly accurate, but it improves as you go along.

Once you’re ready to start working with your scanned data, you can override the initial guess of “document” “receipt” or “contact” (business card), and click “Inspector” to get a close-up look of the scanned data. If you’ve changed document types, you can also click “re-analize” to have it run quickly back through the recognition pass.

At this point, for most of my receipts, NeatWorks had already done a fair job of identifying the Vendor, the Date, and the Amount. If it misses any, you can click and drag the appropriate field right off the scanned document into the proper metadata field. You can also drag (or type) in items like Sales Tax, Due Date, Sent Date, etc. You have full control over what fields are used, and they can include things like Payment Type, Category, Paid, Client, Project, etc.

Once I got the hang of it, it was amazingly fast — I processed 60 days worth of paper that had been accumulating on my desk in less than an hour, and that included time spent learning the application.

As a bonus, I dragged a year’s worth of scanned documents from ScanSnap into the inbox, and it processed them just fine. Within another 90 minutes, I had those documents all properly metadata’d and in the correct folders.

This thing is magic. I don’t know that it’ll actually get me organized, but it’s certainly the best $80 I’ve spent towards that goal ever. I’m sure there are a lot more features and tricks to learn, but just this much is a godsend.

I haven’t yet tried the “Contacts” feature, which promises to scan in business cards, grab all of the relevant information, and sync it to Address Book, but I’m guessing it’s brilliant as well. There are also provisions for exporting data to Quickbooks.

NeatWorks comes packaged with a little mobile scanner (about 10″ x 1.5″ x 1.5″) that’ll scan 3 – 4 receipts a minute for just under $200, as NeatReceipts for Mac. This looks like a great bargain if you don’t already have a suitable scanner. Alternatively, if you do, you can buy NeatWorks for just under $80.

They also offer a version with a desktop scanner (much like the Fujitsu), a version that has Microsoft Office integration built in, and Windows versions of all of the above as well as Mac.

Offhand, I wish I’d purchased the NeatReceipts package now, and I may go back and do it yet. The Fujitsu does well at processing piles of paper, but the small NeatReceipts scanner would be a lot handier for handling business cards and small receipts.

NeatReceipts for Mac

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5 Responses to “NeatReceipts for Mac (NeatWorks) Review”

  1. Mark on May 2nd, 2009 7:40 pm


    Thanks for the review, it was really helpful. I’ve been looking for a good scanner solution for rceipts, etc and based on your review, we just bought one (the Neatworks for Mac bundle) at the Neat kiosk in DFW airport here during a looong rain-delayed layover. Thanks.

  2. paul on June 6th, 2009 6:51 pm

    your ScanSnap workflow is rather odd, and i have no idea why you have it set up that way.

    you can setup scansnap to automatically save all your files to a given folder, and even break up files on every x pages. this is exactly what i do if i want to scan receipts – put in a stack of similarly-sized receipts, set it to single-sided scanning, and set file saving to a folder with automatic breakup on every page.
    then, drag all those files once into neatworks and off you go!

  3. George Zraick on April 12th, 2010 10:25 am

    Nice Idea but in my experience the company is working in a vacuum. The software work fine if installed on a system that doesn’t have anything else installed on it.
    In a real world desk top (mine for example) I have a HP all-in-one, Efax, and other utility’s along with Quicken installed, This system has work well for 2 years until I installed neat products. ” It crashed the system” and I spent the weekend rebuilding it because no and I mean NO Support. On Monday when I called, I got BS deflection and was told to contact them on the web to get a voice call. lol
    When I here stuff like that I know I’m dealing with a disorganized company where a department is under staffed and overwhelmed (Support). Of course the other departments have a “It’s not my problem additude” so once again a great idea that is fubar-ed by poor company culture.

  4. doug on January 11th, 2011 1:54 pm

    The customer service is horrible and you CAN NOT download the drivers. If you ever are in an emergency and need to rebuild your computer and get back in business you will be out of luck. I can not stress how horrible this product is. Avoid at all costs. They don’t understand technology.

  5. Roman Gaufman on April 11th, 2011 12:43 pm

    Horribly unstable 🙁 NeatWorks is at version 3.5 now released March 2011 and is still practically unusable! – I made a short video review showing the problems, hope somebody finds this useful:

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