Behind These Paperless Evernote Hazel Eyes

HazelUsing the Kelly Clarkson quote was just way too easy, I know.  This post is not in fact about American Idol winners, but is about Hazel, a Mac-only rules-based file management application.  It does a ton of stuff, but today I am going to talk about how you can use it in a paperless workflow.

To be honest, DocumentSnap readers have been mentioning Hazel to me for quite some time, but for whatever reason I have never gotten around to looking at it until now.  As usual, you guys are way smarter than I am.  Why on earth did I wait?

Basically, you can think of Hazel as something that brings iTunes Smart Playlist-like rules to the files on your Mac.

How can this help in a paperless workflow?  Well, for example, you could have Hazel watch a folder, and then anything that you drop into it could be tagged, Spotlight comments added, OCR’ed, and then sent to a specific folder.

David Sparks from MacSparky has a great runthrough on how he does this.  I definitely recommend checking it out.  He has a bunch of Hazel rules that get triggered when he names a file something, like “gas bill”.  As soon as he names a file “gas bill.pdf”, the Hazel rules kick in and it gets renamed with the appropriate date added, then it gets sent to a nested folder structure based on type and date.  Very cool stuff.

He also describes this workflow in episodes #3 and #25 of the Mac Power Users Podcast.

Hazel And Evernote

As I said, there are a bunch of different ways you can use for Hazel in a paperless workflow.  One that pops to mind is to create a rule that sends something to Evernote.  Lets say we scan or receive PDFs and want to send certain ones to Evernote.

In my example, I’ll create a folder under Documents called “ToEvernote”.

Then I will create a Hazel Rule called “Evernote Import” that watches that folder, and acts on any PDFs that I save there.

First I will create a condition that acts on any files with Extension PDF:

Then I will run an Applescript, so will choose “Run Applescript”.  I will leave as “embedded script” and then hit “Edit Script”

Then I will paste in the following code to that box:

tell application "Evernote"
activate
create note from file theFile
end tell

Then I will hit the Plus sign to add a new action.  Once a file has been added to Evernote, I don’t want to keep it around, so I trash it.  I choose Move File and then select the Trash folder.

Here is what my final rule looks like:

Now, as soon as I drag a PDF into that toEvernote folder, Evernote pops up with the new note and the PDF is trashed. Coolio!

Of course, you can get extremely fancy here, but between this post and David Sparks’, you should be well on your way to paperless fun with Hazel.

I’m rocking the 14 day free trial now, but I think I will be paying the $22 to buy the full version.  Great stuff.

Do you use Hazel? Have any tricks? Leave a note in the comments.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

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