Author + ScanSnap + Hazel + TextExpander = Time To Write

Author + ScanSnap + Hazel + TextExpander = Time To Write

This is a guest post from Michelle Muto, author of the newly released book The Book of Lost Souls.

I’ve slowly been going paperless for about two years. It was part of my new mantra, “Everything you must have owns you.” I cleaned out closets, rooms, cabinets. I saved the worst for last – the dreaded filing cabinets. We had three of them – one a huge desk-length two-drawer behemoth large enough to hide bodies in.

After a couple of weeks in purging paperwork purgatory, I vowed to find a better way. A quick search online told me others were scanning documents. Great idea! Being a die-hard geek, it sounded like fun. Yeah, well, what can I say, right? Except it wasn’t fun. Not until I got my newFujitsu Scansnap S1300 for Christmas.

Now, I actually enjoy it. Yes, I know – I really should get out more.

Anyway, here’s my workflow:

I have a portable file folder where I store all incoming items in appropriate folders. Once a week I scan whatever is in the To Be Scanned folder. I use TextExpander to name things. !wtr becomes Gwinnett Water bill (ironically, the county that wants us to conserve water hasn’t yet embraced conserving trees).

I use TextExpander snippets for the date, too. !ymd becomes 2011-03-09. For monthly bills, I just use year and month since I don’t really care about the actual date. So, !ym !wtr expands to 2011-03 Gwinnett Water Bill.

Then I save the file and let Hazel do the rest.

Hazel screenshot

Remember I said I vowed never to deal with paper again? Well, most of that is because I had to sit for hours to wade through records retention, trying to figure out what stayed and what I could shred.

In my Hazel rule above, notice that I keep files in folders based on groups. Utilities – Phone (cell), Utilities – Water, Insurance – Home, and so on. Yes, OCR helps, but sometimes I can just find things faster in a folder. My digital cabinet is a copy of my physical one. Plus, I use the folders to my advantage for records retention. And once again, Hazel has my back.

Let’s take the water bill. In my state, I really only have to keep it until the next bill arrives. But, I like to keep them for a year. So, I made a Hazel rule that runs on the folder Utilities – Water.

Hazel screenshot

Each parent folder has such a subfolder. And, you’ll notice that I don’t actually delete the file. I just move it. I know I should just let it go and have Hazel delete the file, but I suppose that in a way, my OCD about filing trumps my mantra and still owns me.

Maybe in time. Which, speaking of, going paperless with the help of Brooks, Hazel, and TextExpander gives me more time to do what I love most. Write.

I’m an author, and while I still love holding a book in my hands, I also read more and more ebooks these days. My debut novel, The Book of Lost Souls, is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for just $1.99 – just in time for Read an Ebook Week. It’s a young-adult fantasy novel.
The sixty second pitch?
It’s not easy being a teen witch. Just ask Ivy MacTavish. Her date for the big dance is really a lizard, a black magic spell book is missing, and a charming demon is offering to help make things right—for a price.


About the Author

Leave a Reply 4 comments

LarryJay - November 7, 2015 Reply

I use typeit4me

Three Things About David Sparks | Tips To Learn How To Go Paperless | DocumentSnap Paperless Blog - September 27, 2012 Reply

[…] superstar author Michelle Muto came on the show to share her writing workflow. She did a great job. Michelle shared her document management workflow on DocumentSnap if you are […]

Michael - July 21, 2012 Reply

For those who might find that TexExpander is a little bit to expansive: Try out aText ( or in the Mac App Store). It has all the possibilities that TextExpander offers.

Where’s Waldo? Um, I Mean Where’s Michelle? « Michelle Muto - March 16, 2011 Reply

[…] D.B. Reynolds, gives me a shout out in her blog. Yesterday, I made a geeky guest appearance over at DocumentSnap. Learn what I do on my ‘off’ time, […]

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