Business card scanning apps

I meet a lot of product reps and other architects as a normal part of my job. I have a stack of business cards 5 inches tall* on my desk. If I were more disciplined, I'd enter the contact information into Outlook when I get the card, but I'm not. I'm looking for a way I can get that stuff from the space on my desk into my Outlook contacts so I can use it faster than sifting through the stack each time I want to find someone's email. 

Do you have an app that you use to scan business cards that is able to upload that information into your outlook contact list?

What I want:

  • Simple process to get information from card into Outlook (export from app and import to Outlook is ok ... like with a CSV file)
  • Something reasonably priced (less than $10, one-time fee? Not exactly sure what is reasonable here) ... or free.
  • Ability to adjust/correct the information when I scan the card ... i.e. in the app, not later in excel or in outlook.

What I don't want:

  • The contacts to be saved to my phone's contacts
  • The app to sell my information or the information of the people I scan to third-parties
  • To have to tie the app to accounts other than Outlook (LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, etc.)
  • A limit to the amount of cards I can scan (did I mention I have a stack 5 inches tall*)

Additional features that would be nice, but not necessary:

  • Ability to check if the person is already a contact. Sometimes people change jobs and I know I have old cards in my stack. I'd like to be alerted when there is a duplicate contact so I can verify the correct card and get rid of the older card. I know Outlook has ways to resolve this so it's not that big of a deal.
  • Ability to scan multiple cards at once (did I mention I have a stack 5 inches tall*). I'm ok if I have to do it one by one, but if I could speed up the process that would be great.

Does such an app exist? I'm not looking for you to search the internet for me, I'm just wondering what others use and if it meets (some or all of) my criteria. 

I've done the normal Google searches and found lots of recommendations but I quickly tired of having to download the free apps to try them out only to realize they didn't do what I wanted them to. And I'm not looking to spend the money to try the paid apps if I'm not sure they will do what I want them to do.

*Full Disclosure: It's actually multiple, shorter stacks ... but if you add them together they equal 5 inches.

Aug 21, 19 1:43 pm

LinkedIn used to actually have an app that did a lot of what you are asking. It was basically a separate contacts app and linking with people on LinkedIn was an optional feature. Unfortunately they killed it a few years ago and I have never found a good replacement.

Aug 21, 19 11:12 pm  · 

I found one called Wantedly People that seemed kind of like that Steeplechase. Hard to know for sure without knowing Japanese, but the Wantedly service looks like it fills a similar role as LinkedIn as a way to find and recruit employees. The Wantedly People app is a way to scan cards and add them as contacts, connect contacts, etc. It looked promising from the ability to scan multiple cards at once, and then export to CSV, but I didn't like needing to make an account to do that mostly because of the privacy policy.

I've looked at Microsoft Lens thinking it would be able to connect directly to Outlook (you know cause it's in the same software family), but no ... Microsoft can't be made to play nice with their own internal teams. You have to export to OneNote and then you can save the contact card into Outlook. There are lots of people complaining about this online and in Microsoft request threads so I'm not holding my breath that something happens anytime soon to correct it. It also doesn't offer a way to modify the content before you export to OneNote. For me that's kind of a deal breaker. I want to be able to check that everything was read correctly from the card when I have the card in front of me before I save or export to anywhere else. 

Aug 22, 19 7:29 pm  · 

I can't be the only one wanting a better method for creating contacts in digital space from business cards in physical space. How are you managing your contacts/connections?

Aug 26, 19 7:52 pm  · 
atelier nobody

About the same time we figure this out, business cards will all come with embedded chips anyway, so it'll be instantly obsolete.


I thought LinkedIn's QR code scanning from the mobile app made the business card obsolete...


Thread bumped from spam ... anybody have a suggestion that won't give me a virus?

Oct 2, 19 11:38 am  · 

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