Behind These Paperless Evernote Hazel Eyes

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"
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.

Leave a Reply 20 comments

Carlos Felipe Gonzalez - May 13, 2018 Reply

In regard to send the scanned file to a specific notebook, I have the following question:

Currently the script line is:
create note from file this_item –> This script is working fantastic! Thanks for that

Now, you said to change this line to:
create note from file theFile notebook “Inbox” ==> Instead of this, shouldn’t be:

create note from file this_item notebook “Inbox”


Sam - April 11, 2018 Reply

Dear Duncan,

Is it possible to import the “Tags” of the file as well? Automatically.

Rachel - January 11, 2015 Reply

Hi Brooks, this is fabulous. Is there anyway to do this with any applications other than Evernote – such as Onenote?

Bob Connelly - April 14, 2014 Reply


Great post. Quick question: is there a way to put multiple files into the folder but have them added to the same note, rather than a new note for each file?


    Brooks Duncan - April 14, 2014 Reply

    Hmm. Good question Bob. I’ll have to think about that one. In the meantime, what I usually do in these situations is let things go in Evernote indivually and then highlight the notes and click Merge. That’s a fast and easy way to put everything in one note, albeit not 100% automated.

Create An Evernote Mac Import Folder Using Automator • Tips To Learn How To Go Paperless | DocumentSnap Paperless Blog - December 4, 2013 Reply

[…] easiest way on the Mac is to import to Evernote using Hazel, but if you don’t use Hazel you can do it using built-in technologies such as Automator and […]

dacarsi - October 12, 2013 Reply

Hey Brooks,

I am having some problems getting this to work with the new EN, Version 5.4.1. Has the AppleScript changed with the update?

The error message says: RULE ERROR: At least one of the actions has an empty field or an error. Please fill in the field, correct the error or remove the action.

    Brooks Duncan - October 12, 2013 Reply

    Hm I just tried it with 5.4.1 and mine works. Could you post your script from Hazel?

      chapmoreno - October 28, 2013 Reply

      Just tried this and had the same problem as dacarsi…but on the bottom of the window, next to the "hammer" icon, this message:
      "Expected end of line, etc. but found application constant or consideration."

        Hozman - December 5, 2013 Reply

        Same problem here with the word "note" in the applescript.

          Brooks Duncan - December 5, 2013 Reply

          Hi! I had the same problem when doing this Folder Actions post.

          I found that I had to change the 'tell application "Evernote"' line to:

          tell application id "com.evernote.evernote"

          Once I changed that, it worked. Can you try?

How to Scan Directly into Evernote using NeatDesk | Tips To Learn How To Go Paperless | DocumentSnap Paperless Blog - July 9, 2013 Reply

[…] Thanks Amy! Unfortunately the Mac version of Evernote doesn’t have Import Folders for some weird reason, but something similar can be done with Hazel. […]

Digitaler Workflow: Hazel Rules! | - February 3, 2013 Reply

[…] Hazel schickt PDFs an Evernote. (Hier macht der Autor sich die Möglichkeit zunutze, im Rahmen von Hazel Apple Scripts ausführen […]

@chumio - May 27, 2012 Reply

Hazel works great with evernote but has anyone got hazel to automatically attach evernote "taggs" to OCR'd document??

    Brooks Duncan - May 27, 2012 Reply

    I think if you want to assign tags to the Evernote note from Hazel, you'd need to modify the AppleScript portion. Here's the Evernote applescript page with examples:

Robert - May 23, 2012 Reply

Is there any way to tell the apple script which notebook to put it in?

    Brooks Duncan - May 23, 2012 Reply

    Great timing. I had actually just made a script that does this a few days ago.

    Replace the "create note" line with this:

    create note from file theFile notebook "Inbox"

    Where Inbox should be, of course, replaced with the exact name of the notebook that you want it to be saved to. Let me know how it goes.

Martin - July 4, 2011 Reply

I have that issue too

    Brooks Duncan - July 4, 2011 Reply

    Hi, what is not working about it? Could you post a screenshot or something about what is happening?

Norwaycalling - March 31, 2011 Reply

Anyone having trouble with this embedded script? Can't seem to get it to work

Leave a Reply: