Mac Tip: Automate Tasks With Hazel

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This Mac tip falls in to the category of automating mac chores.

Hazel, a USD $21.00 program from Noodlesoft is a housekeeping app for your Mac. You set Hazel to watch certain folders and then take action on the files in them based on rules that you set.

  • You can set Hazel to clean off your desktop by moving files into another folder.
  • Or, move only those file that you have not touched in a set period of time.
  • Or, move the mp3 files into a “Music” folder, the html files into a “Web” folder, and the doc files into “Read Later” folder.
  • Or, change a file label color to red on files that have not been acted on in 3 weeks.

I use Hazel with my paperless system. My Fujitsu ScanSnap software places all scans into a temporary holding folder. I then optimize and save the scans into the correct client file. However, I prefer to keep a copy of the original scan for a set time just in case. Keeping track of the ages of files manually would be extremely tedious. Hazel makes this very easy.

Hazel installs itself as a preference pane:

Opening Hazel presents a simple interface showing the folders being watched. By selecting a folder, Hazel shows you the rules being applied to the folder.

Double click a rule to edit it or click the plus button to create a new rule. Here is how I set up the “Delete Old Scans” rule.

Hazel watches my “Temp-Scans” folder and any files with a creation date older than 15 weeks from today are moved to the trash.

There are lots of other common tasks you can set Hazel to perform such as emptying the trash, filing away documents, and automatically processing files. Check out LifeHacker’s article on Hazel for examples.