Elegant, Standalone Scanning from a Brother MFC to Evernote

I use Evernote and it totally rocks my world. I follow Bobby Travis’s approach to using Evernote to Get Things Done (GTD).

I have a Brother MFC-9970CDW, a wonderful multi-function color laser printer (aka a MFP or MFC). (Okay, so it’s hardware is a little cheap and the software was clearly designed by and for engineers, but hey… it gets the job done.) One of the nice things about the Brother is that it features a high-capacity sheet-fed duplex scanner that emails PDF documents to the addressee of your choice. A set of  “one touch” buttons on the control panel make it easy to send your documents to one of twenty email addresses.

Evernote allows you to email the documents of your choice to a unique email address associated with your account. You can specify the destination notebook and tags in the subject of the email, using the format “My note title @notebook #tag”.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have several buttons on the control panel, each corresponding to different notebooks and tags? For instance, it would be nice to scan something directly to my @Chris notebook with a tag such as #Receipts, #Taxes, #Bills, etc. You get the idea.

There’s only one problem: The Brother allows you to specify the email subject, but only globally. So, that’s not going to work. In fact, the only thing you can do on a message-by-message basis is specify the destination email address and the file type. So, how can we specify the notebook and tags with our one-touch buttons?

Easy. Add an intermediary script that receives the message, looks at a crafted “to” address, rewrites the message, and forwards it on to Evernote.

In short: Email to Chris+Receipts@en.chrisgagne.com -> perl script changes subject to “Scanned Item @Chris #Receipts” and removes the text of the body -> perl script forwards the email to myemailaddress@evernote.com.

Why am I using a sub-domain? It’s the easiest way to get flexibility on the “to” address without mucking with the rest of my @chrisgagne.com email.

So here’s a (really kludgy) script I wrote.

This should work for any Brother MFC that supports scanning to email addresses. For those who are searching for this solution, here’s a list of printers that Brother claims supports the “Scan to email server” function as of 6/1/2012. Your milage may vary.

  • DCPJ125
  • MFCJ220
  • MFC-J280w
  • MFC-J245w
  • MFC-J430w
  • MFC-J435w
  • MFC-J625dw
  • MFC-J825dw
  • MFC-J835dw
  • MFC-J5910dw
  • MFC-J6510dw
  • MFC-J6710dw
  • MFC-J6910dw
  • MFC-8890DW
  • MFC-8890CDW

Update: I recently received a couple of emails from a “Laura Schultz” at Cloudwards.net asking me to link to an article of theirs about notetaking apps. They sent the email to a non-public email address that was shared only with some alumni-networking events at my alma mater. They did not respond to requests for information about how they obtained the email address. Given this, I’d recommend against patronizing their site.

2017-09-18T19:04:47+00:00 June 3rd, 2012|3 Comments


  1. Di January 28, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Hi. Prepare to be nuisanced by me – I keep coming across this post of yours from a google search. I am desperately trying to get my brother mfc-j6510 dw scanner to scan to Evernote. I’ve spent countless hours and I’m losing hope. I think Evernote should be accessible for any Tom dick or Harry but I can’t for the life of me figure this out. Please please will you take pity upon me and help me out???? I don’t know where to go!!!!

  2. Chris Gagne February 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Hi Di,

    I skimmed the manual for your printer. I might be missing something, but I do not believe your particular printer offers a “scan a document and email it somewhere as an attachment” feature (surprising given that the above list of likely supported was copied directly from Brother’s website). If I’m wrong and your printer does—in fact—offer the ability to scan something from the printer and have it emailed directly somewhere (without using a computer to assist), then you can still get this to work.

    In order to be ultimately successful, you’ll need to:

    1. Verify that your printer supports the “Scan to email server” feature
    2. Obtain your Evernote email address
    3. Identify an “outgoing mail server” that you can use and obtain the “SMTP server” address, user name, password, and security settings. The people that you obtain your Internet connection from may be able to provide this to you, otherwise you’d need to locate an alternate service (GMail may suffice).
    4. Configure your Brother printer to use the outgoing mail server information you obtained in the prior step.
    5. Ideally, program your Evernote email address into your printer’s “one-touch” address book so that you do not need to re-enter it every time.

    As you can see, this is a fair amount of configuration involving your Brother printer, Evernote service, and your Internet service provider. These companies are likely to be happy to support you in the use of their own specific product, but getting support tying it all together will likely require the assistance of a qualified local technician. At least now you’ll have a sense of what you’re up against.

    Best of luck!

  3. Teresa March 16, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Chris,

    I was thrilled to read your email. I have the exact same printer you do and I’m wanting to scan directly as you have mentioned into Evernote. However, when I read your how to with scripts – I completely got lost. I don’t want to be painful, but I have no idea where to put “scripts”. Would you please help me out with some layman terms so that I too can set up my printer to scan to in specific notebook and tags in Evernote?

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