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Tech Tip: Transforming Paper Business Cards Into Digital Contacts

Beaming contacts is a modern way of exchanging information, but you can also convert those cardboard rectangles into handy electronic files.
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Most apps for scanning business cards, like CamCard, shown here, start with a photo of the card. The software then converts the information into a file you can edit and store in your contacts app. Credit The New York Times

Q. What’s the best way to manage business cards? There used to be a great system called CardScan that allowed someone to scan a card and the information could then be transferred to a contact database. Is CardScan out of business?

A. CardScan’s line of dedicated business-card scanners is still around, although the company making them is now known as DYMO CardScan. The corporate website lists several scanner models you can buy directly there, and it also provides links to retail stores that carry its hardware, like Staples and Office Depot. The Amazon site also sells DYMO CardScan hardware.

The scanners connect to a Windows PC or Mac and import data collected on business cards into a contact database on the computer, but many online user reviews complain that the software for some models does not work with all versions of Windows. Some scanners may also work only with black-and-white business cards, so check the specifications before you buy.

If you need to scan a lot of business cards and want to shop around, you can find several other hardware and software solutions. Other companies make small scanners that can capture business card data, including Pen Power’s WorldCard Pro device and the Brother DSmobile color scanner.

If you already have a full-size scanner, you can also get Windows software like the $30 ABBYY Business Card Reader. The program, like other card-scanning products, uses optical-character recognition technology to convert the information on a scanned business card into text that can be imported into the corresponding fields in a contact-manager app.

The ABBYY company also sells mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices that use the device’s camera as a scanner to capture the information on the business card. Other mobile apps for scanning business cards include CamCard and ScanBizCards.

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