Were we a bit foolish to abandon typewriters?

And a typewriter would help with this how? Make your applications fill-able PDF’s and require electronic submission. Yes, you still have to manually track everything but at least it is readable and you don’t have stacks of paper copies you have to retain.

I couldn’t get rid of typewriters fast enough. I typed my PhD thesis on a typewriter 53 years ago and it was gruesome. Have you ever tried correcting an original and 5 carbons? Tried to fabricate math symbols by overstriking one letter with another (e.g. get a theta by overstriking an o with a -) or repeatedly rolled the carriage up a half space to get a subscript? Editing meant retyping, so I never edited it.

Then I had typists to type my papers and it was almost worse getting them to do it correctly than to do it myself. I don’t want to go back to that.

The cool thing about typewriters is you can now get a Selectric free. Just go pick it up. I’ll bet you can find one. I got one from a law office that was going to keep one and throw the rest out as they’d been storing a bunch of them for years. (This itself was some years ago so now I’m storing it, but only one.) I also have an old Olivetti manual. If you just have one envelope to address, it’s faster than the computer + printer.

But yeah, scan the documents, turn them into PDF files, and fill them out that way.

Around here, retail and state jobs both require an online application. Only places that do paper forms anymore are hotels, factories, and car dealerships.

Forget scanners for this sort of thing. Now-a-days for filling out hard-copy forms, I use the camera on my iPhone. Most modern smartphones have great hi-res cameras, and there are a zillion apps that’ll take the picture, find the document edges, and automatically straighten it, crop it, optimize the contrast, and convert it to a PDF (or jpg… whatever format you want).

What are some “free” equivalents?

I run in to the problem more often than not, they aren’t designed to do that. They probably were meant to be but are not, and unless you have a paid program that can edit PDFs you’re going to have to print them out.

If someone hands me a paper form, I’m not going to reward them with a neatly typed product.

But legible is the better word.

God, people still keep asking for the stupid typewriter at the library and we have to wheel it out for them. I think it’s bad service - we should be teaching them to scan, none of them have the secretarial skills to really fill out a form well with a typewriter.

Pro tip - Word 2013 can open most PDFs and edit them.

Also, if you think you can apply for jobs now with a paper form you are sadly mistaken. No, not even low level retail. No, not as a fry cook. No, not as a school janitor. I spend my days helping people who are completely helpless with a computer to get an e-mail address so they can tackle the completely impossible school district website so they can apply to run a damned floor buffer. It’s ridiculous.

Heck, you can do it with MS Paint. It is that easy!

IMO, FoxIt is the best.

We have one typewriter available to our staff of 80+ people. I’m surprised to see how often it gets used. If you have one label to make up - sure the computer can do it, but you have to have the rights materials, and it’s time consuming if you only have one label. Pop it in the typewriter, type it up and off you go. Easy peasy. The same with some envelopes that are not a standard size. The printer in my office does envelopes, but not all sizes. Odd size? Off to the typewriter. Need some labels for the office supplies room? Again, easy to do one or two on the typewriter.

No one does any major projects on the old veteran, but it’s heavily used for various little projects.

I would be willing to bet that most pre-printed forms have an avery template that you can select in msword and run it through a printer.

Whoah! IT pushed an upgrade from 2010 to 2013 recently and the only thing I noticed was how ugly Office suddenly was. But I just checked Word with a PDF, and now my mind is blown. Awesome.

Typewriters are one thing, but does no one also not use ballpoint pens anymore??!? In dealing with Thai officialdom, I am constantly confronted with a barrage of forms. I pull out my trusty pen and fill them in. No problem. I know the OP said he didn’t like doing it, but is it really that much of a burden?

I still have a typewriter, though I have not used it in 13 years now. We still have them at work to fill out some shipping forms and some labels. They’re not gone but they are rarely used is true.

Twenty years ago I bought a 1959 Olympia “portable” typewriter. The original bill of sale was with it: $159. So it is now worth $1,300.11 in 2015 dollars…

My niece and nephew, then about ten years old, thought it was great: you didn’t have to plug it in, so it was truly portable, apart from weighing 20 pounds, and best of all, it printed INSTANTLY!

Years ago I read that switching from a manual to an electric typewriter would add about a pound to your weight over a year, so there’s that.

take a picture of it and email it to yourself. Paste it into Excel or any program that has insertable text boxes. Make one text box without borders and copy/paste it as needed over the form. If you don’t have excel then use the free stuff like openofffce.

Before you go thru the hassle of scanning a form look to see if there’s an ID number at the bottom of it. Most standard forms will have this. Then just Google that number and you’ll probably find a free, downloadable, editable, blank pdf version.