Crossing the Paper-Digital Divide

In 1986 Roger Smith, then chairman of General Motors said, “by the end of this century, we will live in a paperless society.” He didn’t get that quite right. If you’re like me, you probably still deal with paper regularly. You need to fax something with a signature. You need to digitize a receipt or a photo. You need to receive a fax.

So what do you do? Here are a few services and tools that could help get you across the paper-digital divide. Share your own ideas in the comments.

Online faxing: eFax and FaxZero

eFax lets you send and receive faxes by email. With a pro account at $19.95 a month, you get a local or toll-free fax number, 130 free incoming fax pages a month, and a year of online fax storage.

FaxZero will send a one-page fax for free and you don’t even have to sign up for an account, or you can send up to a 15-page fax for $1.99.

FaxZero online faxing

Web-based contract management: EchoSign

EchoSign automates the contract signing and tracking process. Unfortunately, it only makes paper obsolete if the business issuing the contract uses it. You might find that many contracts you have to deal with aren’t provided electronically, with option for electronic signature. In that case, you’ll have to look to some other solution.


If you are dealing with a business that doesn’t use EchoSign and you don’t want to or can’t use paper (you’re working out of a cafe, for example), you can still handle contracts entirely electronically. Web Worker Daily readers suggest you use a scanned copy of your signature and paste it into documents that you receive and send using an online fax service.

Easy scan-to-PDF: Fujitsu ScanSnap

Fujitsu ScanSnapThe Fujitsu ScanSnap only takes a little bit of space on your desk compared to a flatbed scanner, digitizes straight to PDF, and gets good reviews from users. It will scan both sides of a piece of paper in one pass, provides OCR via Acrobat Standard, and scans up to 15 pages per minute.

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