Hazel update brings even more productivity to automated file manager

David Chartier
D. Chartier|02.13.07

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Hazel update brings even more productivity to automated file manager

I instantly fell in love with Hazel from Noodlesoft the first time I found it back in September '06, and since then it has received a literal landslide of new features that make it even more indispensable to any heavy file trafficker. For those just tuning in, Hazel is fundamentally a file organization utility; it allows you to set up a series of rules that watch files in directories of your choosing, and then it carries out various actions based on your criteria. For example: I download a lot of videos, particularly motion pieces I find from studios all over the web. I also download a lot of DMGs and ZIPs in the name of TUAW, and as you might guess, after just a busy morning of all this watching and downloading, my desktop is about as messy as the typical freshman dormroom.

Enter Hazel, the background file management ninja. For these two scenarios, I have a couple of rules that watch my Desktop for files of type Movie, DMG or ZIP which were added more than 1 day ago. These rules will then move said files into their respective directories (Movies and Software, as one might guess) and apply a blue label to them, just to make sure I know what was moved how.
Hazel can do so much more to your files though - copy them, add Spotlight comments, archive and even run shell scripts or AppleScripts/Automator workflows. Even better, however, is a series of updates and new features since I first stumbled on Hazel to make it even more incredible. Here's a brief overview (no seriously, by comparison, this is brief) of what's new:
  • "Run rules now" option for doing just what it says. Should give better feedback to the user when testing out rules.
  • New rule actions:
    • Open file
    • Import into iTunes
    • Import into iPhoto
    • Run AppleScript
    • Run Automator workflow
    • Run shell script
    • Run rules on folder contents
  • New feature: can now drag rules between folders. If "spring-loaded folders" is enabled in Finder's preferences, folders in Hazel's folder list will "spring" as well.
  • Removed restriction on using the same type of action more than once in a rule. You can now, for instance, have two moves within the same rule.
  • Added "does not start with" and "does not end with" operators.
  • Added ability to drag and drop folders on the folder list.
  • Rule matches are now logged to Console.
  • Rudimentary checks added to prevent move and copy actions from having the same source and destination folders.
And much, much more. The possibilities for making your Mac do even more file management work for you are endless, and Hazel almost instantly became some of the best $16 I've ever spent on my computing. To help get you started, Hazel's 14-day demo comes with an example set of rules that should get the idea gears grinding, but Noodlesoft also has a support forum where users are poking at the ins and outs and trading ideas, as well as their own list of tips and tricks.

If you've been looking to take the 'manual' out of file management 'labor,' Hazel might be right up your alley.
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