Nov 23 2009

Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 Professional

PaperPort12box_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 Professional

This is a ‘techie’ review of PaperPort 12 Professional. Meaning it’s a review coming from someone that’s used PaperPort for years and is familiar with company and private use of the application. This is not a regurgitation of corporate brochures and handouts telling you about a product.

I’ve been using PaperPort since version 6; it came with a scanner [Visioneer] along time ago. I’ve never been able to find something quite as unique as PaperPort in the aspect of how it handles documents, images and other snippets of information AND in the range of affordability as PaperPort.

This is what I found…

I’m reviewing PaperPort because I like it, I’ve used it and I wanted to really dig-in and see what’s in the new version and what’s going to be there for the eager users looking to buy/upgrade. A lot of times you don’t get an opportunity to play with an application in action until you’ve actually purchased and installed it.

It’s funny how retailers expect you to return the software [if you want a refund] without the package ever being opened. I’ve never been able to understand how a customer is expected to buy a product, take it home, try it, build an opinion on it [if it’s going to work for you or not] all without opening the package. How’s a customer to even know if it’ll install or not, until they open the package? It’s a paradox.

My goal here was to orientate myself with the new application, evaluate each of the functions and then provide feedback based upon the things that I was expecting and the things that I have known/tested.

And to clarify, I was provided a temporary copy of PaperPort 12 Professional to review it. I’m not getting a kick back to give a good report card; I’m reporting as it is- Good, Bad or Ugly.


Having said that, I appreciate the opportunity Nuance gave me to look through the product and report back.


Test Environment

I’m testing this on an ACER 4850 dual core PC, Widows 7, 64-bit with 4gb memory and all this is inside a VirtualBox environment.



The contents of the PaperPort CD is roughly 370 MB. PaperPort is compatible with 32 and 64-bit Windows Operating System’s [including Windows 7]. PaperPort requires a minimum of 800×600 resolution.

When I ran the installation it was flawless; very few questions and the program installs in about 5 minutes. Don’t worry, you won’t have to reboot. Everything with the installation was quite painless.


Product activation/registration – ye pirates beware!

When you first start the application, it asks you to register/activate the product with Nuance. Nuance seems to be taking greater steps in protecting their product from piracy because now not only do you have an activation code, but there’s a machine identifier.

My guess would be that the activation code is sent to Nuance when the product is activated and the machine identifier is linked to the activation code. This would technically prevent PaperPort from being installed on several different machines and then activated, now each machine that has PaperPort installed will be identified with a machine number.


Save Energy, Money and Time

For anyone that’s thinking of buying PaperPort, and you’ve read the reviews [or looking at mine], the meat of this program is that this is document imaging. This is your electronic filing cabinet, and being able to access your information very quickly is very valuable [money wise]. Yes, it’ll save you lots of headaches and money [especially in the office environments].

There’s no doubt that if you apply this application and use it as it’s intended that you’ll save time and if it’s properly maintained in a business environment your business has the potential to be much more efficient and be able to respond to your customers faster.

There’s been many occasions I’ve been complemented on the fact that I can pull information and present it to whomever when it’s required. And when time is an issue, you really pat yourself on the back for storing this information electronically.

The key is entering the information as it’s presented, not waiting until you’ve a huge pile to process.


Main Form and Menu Introductions – GUI Friendly.

PaperPortMFscreenshot_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 Professional

The standard main form is just about as it was, but with the updated GUI [Graphic User Interface] interface to reflect that of the ‘Microsoft way’ of doing things. A lot of users will find this way much more comfortable. Nuance has taken a little time to clean up the GUI from previous versions and make it friendly.

The [file/documents] tree structure that has been at the heart of PaperPort, and if you’ve ever used PaperPort before you know this is just a reflection of a folder structure that’s created on the users hard drive, or network location.

Remember to backup and backup often… 1 backup is better than NO backup…
PaperPortmenuscreenshot_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 Professional editPaperPortscreenshot_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 Professional

itemmenuPaperPortscreenshot_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 Professional

toolsmenuPaperPortscreenshot_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 Professional

From the screenshots above, all the functions are all very clear and they’re out there to see and there’s absolutely no clutter, but I’m not going to say the interface is perfect.

For instance, when an user clicks on and item/image, you can expect three things to happen; either the user is going to open the item, the user is going to move/copy [to organize] or they’re going to issue an action request [email, rotate, OCR] against the item. There’s not enough attention on the expectations on the actions of the items. Nuance needs to put some attention in the removal of repetitive functions in PaperPort and try assist the user with their items.

My point here is to focus more on the foretelling what the user is going to do with the item and then make those tools as close as they can, so the user doesn’t have to click all over the place to get what they need done.



If you’ve never used the ‘send to’ bar; it’s the heart of the program. In my experience it’s what’s used the most. It works by selecting your item(s) and then clicking on where you want the item to go or what you want to do with it; the actions.

STBscreenshotPaperPort_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 ProfessionalA lot of the toolbar icons have been changed to be more web friendly and a few of the ‘send to’ items at the bottom have had any icon makeover as well, but what’s interesting is that Nuance has not addressed the issue of having to RESTART the program to add a SEND TO option; this shouldn’t be required. It’s irritating.

This is a sore point, I’m picking at a spot here from the community, but another issue is the lack of compatibility with other programs. While the SEND TO wizard walks you through the process of setting up a new ICON, PaperPort has [since before version 8] not been able to send any documents to Thunderbird. This is disturbing since Thunderbird is one of the most popular email clients out there. And there’s nothing in the Nuance knowledge base that matches to Thunderbird or how to make it work.

I view this as a responsibility of Nuance and PaperPort to make the interfaces between programs work properly; it’s not the responsibility of Thunderbird to work with PaperPort. Although, a little communication could fix this issue.


Rendering Performance – Much better.

PaperPort 12 is a great leap over previous versions.

As I mentioned, I’ve been an user of PaperPort for a very long time and if you’ve worked with the previous versions your used to sitting and waiting, for what seems like an eternity, to watch a page of images or documents appear before you could do anything. Well, change your socks and start walking because PaperPort 12 has put some work in to pop’n through those files.

Before I started this review, I was using PaperPort 11 to research some old pictures [find some stuff] and the frustrations of PaperPort 11 and it’s loading of the thumbnails really made me appreciate the performance of PaperPort 12.

The responsiveness of PaperPort 12, with files local, was very impressive. I was joyed to see how fast the program was going through the rendering of the thumbnails. It’ll just make you so much happier and save you that much more time.


Now what I need to clarify here is that there’s a BIG difference in having the files local and the files on a remote server [NAS]. In my testing, PaperPort 11 was faster at browsing the folders [getting to where the data is], but PaperPort 12 is faster at rendering the thumbnails once you get there. PaperPort 12 seems to be doing something in the back ground, that wasn’t done before, and that’s causing the program to pause [literally stop responding]. I tried this over and over in several different machines located on my network, and each time same result.
I make this statement based on the responsiveness of Windows explorer, vs PaperPort 11 and comparing it to PaperPort 12. I also have a graphics viewer program that was used in the comparison and it was also performing without pause.
My explanation for the pause is directly related to the number of items in the folder you select. For instance, if I select a folder and that folder has 80 items in it, PaperPort 12 seems to be checking all 80 folders before letting you continue. And with my testing, to a network server, that pause was about 15 seconds for 80 subfolders.


Nuance developers have added some stuff to really speed up the rendering, but may be at a cost of something else.



I’ve a multifunction printer scanner from Epson and I was able to have it recognized by the application. Before using it I used the Scanner wizard to determine how my scanner worked with the ADF [auto document feeder]. It walks you through a process to determine how/if the scanner can tell PaperPort when to start scanning.

I used to have a scanner that when I pressed a button that scanner the documents were scanned and then handled automatically; I couldn’t get that to work with PaperPort 12, but that’s not their fault and it’s trivial at best.

I was able to get the scanner working with the ADF and PaperPort handled the incoming images just fine.

I chose to have my documents saved a PDF. While there’s an option to use the MAX format I’ve found that it’s easier to save files in a format that’s much more common. The MAX for mat is either a PaperPort file or a 3D file and if there’s ever any cause for transition you don’t have to convert the PDF, TIF and JPG files because they’re standard.


Security – Folders and PDF’s

PaperPortsecurity_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 ProfessionalPaperPort doesn’t require a user to login to use the application, and that’s good. The security on the information accessible in PaperPort 12 is handled outside the application.

I don’t see much in the change of the way the security is handled in PaperPort 12 versus the previous versions. The security of PaperPort is basically handled by the Operating System. What ever permissions the user has on a drive location [or network storage] is what they’re going to have in PaperPort.

PaperPort12PDFSecurity_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 ProfessionalSo while an user could open PaperPort, they might get a folder listing, but they’ll not be able to read or view anything if they didn’t already have access to it.

BUT PaperPort 12 has added some security for PDF’s.

PaperPort has the ability to utilize the security features that can be imposed upon PDF files, but the security seems to be limited to PDF files alone.

I wasn’t able to right-click on any images and choose the option to password protect them or impose any kind of security upon them; restrict an outside users from accessing that information- but you can through the Operating System security.


Accessing the Source Folders

PPfoldermanagerss_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 Professional

A trouble point for me personally is still the Folder manager. I’ve never really liked this input screen/window because it’s not flexible enough. Yes, it’s meant to push the user in the direction of ease-of-use, but what it’s missing is an edit box where the path of the source folders could be entered.

As a person that’s used PaperPort in a company and personal environment I don’t like having to create mapped drives every time I want to connect to a remote source.

Being able to simply type in the network location of the source information and click okay as always been one of my prerequisites.

Reconnecting to a mapped drive when the operating system is reloading is a performance hit and when the system checks for available resources it also checking for what’s on those mapped drives, so I simply like to use network locations versus mapped drives, in the spirit of performance.

I don’t know if this is by design, but in my testing I had to create a mapped drive to access my source files. The reason was the Operating System wasn’t seeing the other computers on my network, but I could access them through explorer, via ping and simply entering the path in other programs; my only option was via a mapped drive.


PaperPort OCR – Outstanding.

CopytextPaperPortOCR_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 ProfessionalI was going through a lot of my old documents, ones that were not so good resolution and testing the OCR functions with PaperPort 12 and it was performing quite well.

There was a very low margin of error in the OCR process of these documents. I wasn’t making it easy for PaperPort to OCR them. I was using old receipts and pages from faxes [you know how they are…]

This is one of great functions of PaperPort and I’m glad they have kept it in the system.

I was able to highlight areas of images, with text in them, and then have PaperPort convert those images to text.

For instance you can take a picture of something, a document, import the image into PaperPort and then have PaperPort convert the image to text. So you don’t necessarily need a scanner, but a good camera with a decent resolution [remember to focus] will serve you well.


FormTyper Function – Just do it.

PaperPortFormTyper_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 ProfessionalWith PaperPort 12, the form filler IS the PDF viewer. You can’t do some things and the handling of non-standard documents was odd to me. The intuitiveness is missing here.

For instance the program will tell you only ‘PDF’ of document will work, but I’m giving it a TIF; I say, just change it. Tell me your changing it, and change it- let me do my thing. When I’m done, ask me if I would like to change it BACK to TIF or do I would like to keep it as a PDF.

There’s a lot here of telling the user what they can and can’t do. The program has not made any efforts here to adjust for these issues and then simply give the user what they want. They don’t need to here about compatible issues or constraints; they want to fill out the form.

And there’s going to be situations were the user is not going to be the one that provided/scanned the form; it could be coming from an external source [another party] and they want you to fill it out. PaperPort says you’ve to rescan in the proper resolution to make this work- I say this logic is flawed.

PaperPort says the resolution of the source files has to be between 200 and 600 dpi [huh?!]. Are you really going to ask the average user to do this? No. You shouldn’t.

The interface SHOULD res down an image over 600 dpi to something more manageable. Programmatically it’s easy, the application should pull the image in, recognize the new dimensions and then it should resize using a RESAMPLE option; the application resizes your image and produces a great result. The result could be submitted within the guidelines of what the program requires.

If the OCR that I was testing with can handle 96 DPI… I think the FormTyper should be able to handle it as well. Again, if the minimum is 200, pull it in, res it up and run the program; the average user should not be presented with these types of trivial issues.

Even more, PaperPort MAX format is not compatible with the FormTyper function. I don’t know how this got past QC, but the MAX format is PaperPort native file format and it’s not compatible. This was a huge oversight.

I’ve a PDF viewer that’s free and it doesn’t give these issues, so Nuance has not pushed far enough in this direction to produce a quality experience. I actually liked the old version from PaperPort 11.


PaperPort PDF Viewer – really good.

A PDF viewer was included with the program and I installed it with the rest of the suite. It integrates with PaperPort 12 in some other functions it does; or it seems that way.

Not withstanding the FormTyper function, I didn’t find anything particular that really stood out in a bad way, and it did have more than your standard release of Adobe Reader.

It definitely opened faster than Adobe Reader and I immediately noticed the type writer functions. Having a type writer function in a PDF viewer is becoming a standard requirement for viewing PDF’s- this was a good addition for Nuance and PaperPort.


Works with any desktop scanner -  yes it does.

Scannerwizard_thumb Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 12 ProfessionalPaperPort 11 had a scanner Wizard that would allow you to add and test the scanner you had with the functionality of PaperPort.

That functionality has been carried over to the latest version and upon starting the scanner setup Wizard you’re asked if you want to download the latest scanner interface database. This makes sure you’re always ready to use just about any scanner.

The packaging for PaperPort states that it ‘works with any popular scanner – Guaranteed or your money back!’ So you can rest assured that you shouldn’t have any issues with your scanner.


Microsoft SharePoint and Document Routing – Bonus.

SharePoint and document routing are features that are pointed out with the latest version of PaperPort 12, but I wasn’t able to test those functions because of my testing environment.

But I do know that Microsoft SharePoint has become a truly popular with enterprise solutions and document management and any tools to get information into SharePoint, enhancing its functionality, is going to be a benefit.


Nuance has made some great efforts to improve one of their most popular products and from my initial testing and review, I think the GUI works better and it’s a lot more organized for the average user. The performance of the rendering has been improved greatly and this tells me that Nuance has been listening to their customers and applying those suggestions.

While PaperPort is geared to the professional work force, there’s no doubt that it has personal applications as well. PaperPort Professional is priced around $200 and the standard package at roughly $100. You can visit visit for all the juicy details.

All the information here [screenshots and all] has been extracted directly from PaperPort 12 Professional, and based on my experience and expectations of what PaperPort should do.


I hope this helps you make an informed decision…


L. Henry Jr.

Support the site — Share this!