Yesterday I posted this question to Twitter: “Can anyone recommend reliable low cost software to scan biz cards into Outlook (without having to buy scanner/software combo)?” I was trying to avoid a product such as CardScan, where the software comes only in a bundle with the hardware. I don’t need another scanner, I just want to avoid keying into Outlook all the business cards I collect.

No one suggested any standalone software, but I did receive an e-mail from Allen Stern suggesting that I look at his service, CloudContacts. It takes a whole different approach to business-card scanning, one that busy lawyers might find quite appealing. In short, they do it for you. You ship them a bunch of business cards and they digitize them. They then post the digitized contacts in a Web interface only you can access. You can access your contacts there anytime and also export them from the Web interface into Outlook or other contact-management programs. The Web interface also allows one click connecting to your contacts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

For lawyers, the obvious advantage of this is time savings. You avoid the time of scanning and fixing each contact. CloudContacts retains an image of each card it scans for you and then gives you the option of having the paper cards returned or recycled.

Another option it offers avoids the shipping altogether. Use your mobile phone to take a picture of each card and then e-mail the picture to CloudContacts for processing. (Evernote has a similar ability to recognize business-card text from a picture, but I am not aware that it allows export into Outlook.)

The cost of the service is $29.95 for up to 100 cards or $124.95 for up to 500 cards. The phone-to-contacts e-mail service is priced differently, requiring a monthly subscription of $4.95 for up to 20 cards or $8.95 for up to 40 cards. I have not actually tried it, but the concept has appeal.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.