Use Acrobat and Google to Create a Paperless, Searchable Database

Many things bring me joy in life. Planes, summer time, bacon…just to list a few. But few things tickle my fancy like being able to search all of my documents in one place on a variety of devices at any time. There are many methods to achieving this goal, but in my opinion, nothing beats the organization and search capabilities of Google Apps (specifically Google Drive).

What exactly can you search?

Everything from Microsoft Office documents to emails. And just to clarify, when I say search, I mean search in the document, not just the document title. Here is a list of all the filetypes it supports:

  • Image files (.JPEG, .PNG, .GIF, .TIFF, .BMP)
  • Video files (WebM, .MPEG4, .3GPP, .MOV, .AVI, .MPEGPS, .WMV, .FLV)
  • Text files (.TXT)
  • Markup/Code (.CSS, .HTML, .PHP, .C, .CPP, .H, .HPP, .JS)
  • Microsoft Word (.DOC and .DOCX)
  • Microsoft Excel (.XLS and .XLSX)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (.PPT and .PPTX)
  • Adobe Portable Document Format (.PDF)
  • Apple Pages (.PAGES)
  • Adobe Illustrator (.AI)
  • Adobe Photoshop (.PSD)
  • Tagged Image File Format (.TIFF)
  • Autodesk AutoCad (.DXF)
  • Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG)
  • PostScript (.EPS, .PS)
  • TrueType (.TTF)
  • XML Paper Specification (.XPS)
  • Archive file types (.ZIP and .RAR)

Obviously, you’ll only be able to search in files that actually have text. But even for filetypes that don’t have renderable text, such as PDFs, there is still a way to make them searchable.

How to make PDFs searchable in Google Drive

Unfortunately, one thing Google Drive doesn’t do (yet) is recognize text via OCR (Optical Character Recognition) in PDFs, which is where Adobe Acrobat comes in. Fortunately, it’s a pretty quick and simple process. If you’re using Adobe Acrobat X and you have a PDF open, just go to Tools (on the right hand side) >Recognize Text > In This File.

Press OK and it will begin to recognize the text in the documents. Once you upload that PDF into Google Drive, you’ll have the ability to search inside the document.

If you get in the habit of scanning and uploading paper documents, receipts, statements, etc. (along with all your other electronic files), and taking the time to go through this process, Google Drive will become an irreplaceable, time-saving (after the initial processing) tool for you business.

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