Hazel 2.0 beta released with application uninstalling, tons of new features

Hazel is one of those truly clever, useful apps that I think could make the Mac computing world a better place if everyone bought a license (and used it, of course). If you haven't seen our previous coverage, Hazel is - in a nutshell - your "personal housecleaner," allowing you to specify rules for moving and organizing your files just like you would with Mail messages. For a basic example, you could create a rule that watches your Desktop for downloaded files types like .ZIP, .DMG, .SIT, etc., and automatically move them to a Software folder once they're a day old. Hazel's abilities don't stop there, however; not by a long shot. Hazel can automatically import image files into iPhoto, music into iTunes, add Spotlight comments, organize files into folders and even subfolders, add Finder color labels to files, run AppleScripts and so much more. Hazel can even manage your Trash for you by setting a specific time frame after which older (but not all) files should be deleted, or even a size limit that the Trash should be kept under (say, 2 GB). All this is done completely and transparently in the background, allowing you to get things done while Hazel works its magic.

Have I piqued your interest? Good, because Paul Kim at Noodlesoft has just released a much-anticipated Hazel 2.0 update in beta with some significant new features. At the top of my personal list is full-blown support for uninstalling an application and the ability to preview rule matches so you can polish your criteria before flipping the switch. Read on for details on these killer new features and more.

Now you may be saying "but David, uninstalling an app on the Mac is as easy as dragging it to the Trash, right?" Well, you're roughly half right - when you get rid of an application that way, it still leaves behind preference files, Application Support files and possibly other stuff that winds up sitting around on your Mac. Now these files are typically harmless, but after a while they can really start to eat up space. My support folder for NetNewsWire - an app that primarily downloads text and headlines, mind you - is over 200 MB alone.

Enter Hazel's new App Sweep feature, which watches any applications that are dragged to the Trash. When it notices one, it will present the dialog you see above with preference files, application support folders and other stuff Hazel found related to the app you're deleting. This awesome new feature allows you to trash all this extra stuff right with the app, taking the manual labor out of keeping your drive clean of derelict supporting files.

My other favorite new feature is the ability to preview rule matches before setting them in motion. This helps avoid any unfortunate mishaps due to a rule that wasn't built quite right, and it gives you a nice birds-eye view of what will happen once you give the green light.

There's plenty more good stuff in this new version of Hazel though, so here's a quick rundown of all the other new ways you can start managing your files:

  • Menubar icon for quick access to Hazel's functions including the ability to start and stop Hazel's operation.

  • Can now write rules to match against any Spotlight metadata.

  • New rename action to rename files and folders.

  • New sorting action that can sort your files into a set of subfolders.

  • Unarchive action to unpack archives.

  • Growl support including a Growl action where you can have Hazel send custom Growl messages.

  • Rewritten to use internal task scheduler instead of launchd.

  • Much better detection of files that are busy meaning that Hazel should work better with downloading apps and browsers even if it doesn't have specific support for it.

To help get you started, a set of example rules is even included with the Hazel download which offers a glimpse into just how powerful this tool can get, without you having to do any of the legwork right off the bat. Of course a demo of the beta is available, but if Hazel helps you get stuff done faster, you might want to buy soon: now that Hazel is in a feature-complete beta phase, Kim has announced that will increase v2.0's price from its present $16. Since Hazel 2.0 will be a free update for 1.0 users, however, you can buy now, save money and still get the free upgrade once 2.0 goes gold. Is that a good deal for the ability to make your Mac do half your work for you, or what?

As I've said numerous times in this post and before, I honestly believe Hazel is a killer - nay: essential - app for everyone who has more than one or two files to manage on their Mac. I've been using it since v1.0 and can't even begin to guess at how much time it's saved me. I hope it can do the same for you.