Hazel: Automated Organization for your Mac

You may be wondering what this has to do with photography, and why it's on my blog? Well, the first thing to understand is that I'm a technophile at heart, I love gadgets, helpful (non-bloated) applications, and beautiful product design. These things all inspire my creative senses and get me out of bed in the morning and into the studio.

One application in particular deserves special attention, mainly because it never requires my attention, yet it does so much to keep me organized. Hazel is almost like having your own personal (computer) assistant. Pretty much any task you can think of, Hazel can do. I'll admit it takes a little thought sometimes to figure out how to get from point-A to point-B, but once you find that path, Hazel performs. Flawlessly.

Courtesy Noodlesoft

Courtesy Noodlesoft

I'll give you three examples:

  1. I have assigned Hazed a task to clean my desktop every night at midnight, moving everything that I don't want permanently on my desktop, into a folder in my Dropbox account. I'm not actually throwing anything out, just putting it away for safe keeping. During the day my desktop gets pretty cluttered with JPG test images, screen shots, documents, invoices, etc, etc. Hazel is like my desktop housekeeper, when I get up in the morning, it's all nice and clean.
  2. Whenever I download a new application (not from the AppStore) it comes in the form of a compressed (zipped) .dmg file. Once I install the application, I no longer need the dmg file and used to throw them in the trash to free up space on my computer (SSD drives fill up fast). The problem was that if I ever had a problem with an app, or whenever I got a new computer, I'd have to run around the web and find all these handily little apps that I'd accumulated over time, and re-download them all. PITA. Instead, I have Hazel move any dmg (or other executable file) from my downloads folder that is older than 1-day to a folder on my Dropbox. [You see where I'm going with this]
  3. Whenever I prepare a client invoice using my invoicing application (BlinkBid), I send the client a PDF of the invoice and save a copy for my own records. I could just save these invoices to Dropbox, which I used to do, but I've found Evernote more useful for storing all these invoices in a Notebook which I can easily search, tag, etc. When an invoice lands in the Invoices folder, it hangs out for a day so I can forward to clients or print it, but at midnight Hazel automatically uploads it to my Invoices notebook in Evernote, and deletes it from the Invoices folder freeing up space in my Dropbox account.

This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Hazel automatically uninstalls all those preference and companion files that linger from applications when you drag them to the trash, and can even empty your trash when it reaches a certain threshold. Hazel is WAY more powerful than what I've explained above, but so far, these small tasks have made my life more organized, and when I'm organized, I'm more creative.