8 iOS apps that make it easier to go paperless

Typewriter and fax machines

Several factors are making us shift more toward going paperless: the need to be mobile and location-independent, greater speed and convenience, an increased awareness for going green, not to mention our need for pinching pennies in today’s economic climate.

Now, with the advent of things like smartphones, tablets, and the iPad, new applications designed for those devices are making it easier and more practical to go paperless.

Penultimate: Your iPad notepad

Penultimate by Cocoa Box turns your iPad into a notebook, allowing you to jot notes and create sketches in multiple colors, separate them into notebooks by topic or project, and then email all or part of your notes in PDF format. It even includes three built-in “papers” (graph paper, unlined and ruled), but you can import images of different backgrounds or papers — or download paper packs — to create your own texture or style. Price: $1.99.

SignMyPad: Simple contract sign-offs

The Android- and iPad-compatible PDF reader SignMyPad has built-in annotation functionality, allowing you to sign and date PDF documents right from your iPad and then email it to another party. You can also save documents into versions for gaining multiple signatures, and the app can import documents from and save them to Dropbox. Price: $3.99 for the basic version, $19.99 for SignMyPad Pro, which adds geolocation tagging.

MyFax: Fax without a fax

If you work with clients or colleagues who still use fax machines, MyFax’s mobile faxing app, available for iOS and Blackberry, lets you send and receive faxes from your smartphone and via your email account. Just snap a photo of the document you want to send (the app is optimized for sending photos of text), choose the recipient from your Address Book and send. To fax by email, attach the document to an email message, address it to the fax number plus an @myfax.com and send. To receive a fax, simply give out your MyFax number, and your received documents will be available as an email attachment. Price: Free app, service costs $10/month after a free trial.

JotNot: Turn your iPhone into a handheld scanner

JotNot lets you scan from your iPhone, email the scan as a PDF or image, and fax the scan to U.S. numbers. You can add pages to documents, creating a multi-page scan, as well as delete and reorder pages and send documents to EverNote, DropBox, or Google Docs. JotNot can scan and save a variety of documents, including receipts, business cards, and notes. Price: Free.

DocScanner: Simple scanning

DocScanner is a scanner app for the iPhone, Mac, Android, Qt, and the Symbian S60 that allows you to scan documents simply by taking a picture. It then automatically crops everything other than the document out of the picture and even detects your document’s paper size. Other helpful features include the ability to search multiple-page documents, as well as words within documents. Price: $4.99.

Business Card Reader: Quickly add new contacts

The multi-platform Business Card Reader from SHAPE Services lets you take a photo of a business card, and then it “reads” the picture, extracts the contact data, and enters it into your smartphone’s address book. The built-in browser even lets you check out a new contact’s LinkedIn page right from the app. Price: $4.99 for multi-language support, $3.99 for Asian languages only.

OfficeDrop: Scan to the cloud

OfficeDrop‘s app scans documents directly to the cloud for storage and sharing. The ScanDrop desktop app is available for both PC and Mac, but the iPhone and Android Scanner apps allow you to scan and upload documents using your smartphone. Once uploaded, the document’s text is searchable, thanks to OCR, and sharable with colleagues. Price: Free

Square: Easy payments and receipts

Square, available for Android and most iOS devices, lets you accept credit card payments directly from your smartphone and uses “smart receipts” to send to customers via email or text message. You can create a display with photos and prices so that customers can view your products directly from your iPad, for example, and then keep track of the number of sales you’ve made in a given day. Price: Free app and reader.

Image courtesy of Flickr user mattjiggins

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