Automators 8: File Automation


Hazel for PC: I can’t comment on the direct comparability with Hazel (having only ever been on the Windows side of the fence), but in my experience File Juggler does a great job of unobtrusively automating file management for the PC.


When I was on PC, file juggler seemed to be the best imitation. I use Hazel much more extensively now and can’t remember if FJ has the same features.

To anyone with multiple clients/customers/projects:

Do you have any file automation workflows (for lack of another term) through Hazel or some other software that you use to move scanned files directly to a particular client file?

Right now my office has a scanner on a different floor that saves files to a specific folder on our server. After you scan it and make it back to your desk, you have to remember to rename it and move it to the correct client file.

However, my office has about 200 active clients, so it would obviously be easier if it could just be moved automatically… I just haven’t been able to figure out a way of doing it without completely reworking how we identify our clients. We currently organize them all according to client names (e.g., Smith, John) and I think the office would revolt if I tried to change it to something else (e.g., a job numbering system).

At a minimum, being able to automatic file names will definitely be helpful, instead of just having each file named “docDATE.PDF”, but I was just trying to think a few steps farther ahead.

Finally finished the episode. I only listen on drives during school drop off/pick ups so it takes me a while.

But, here’s another shameless plug for my Jettison program I made. :slight_smile:

And, @MacSparky, challenge accepted.

I have made quite a few of my own file management automation scripts that I feel now I must turn into a fully fledged piece of software. I don’t want to compete with Hazel, or rip it off, but a lot of file automation can be done just the same on Windows.

Any fellow .net developers out there want in on this with me? FileJuggler seems like a good start, but I’m very much on the “Freeware” side of things and I think there is more that can be done in terms of what it offers.

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@RosemaryOrchard - you have mentioned in this episode an e-book manger you seem to be using, which one ist that, if I may ask?

I use Calibre, it’s not pretty but it’s super functional.

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I love the topic, and I hope to make some progress implementing file automation. I already own Hazel, but have just scratched the surface of what it can do. My question is about file structure. Regardless if it is iCloud, Dropbox, or software like Evernote and DevonThink. Rose mentioned a fairly flat file structure. I think David has a system that is little more complex. I realize it depends a lot on personal preference, but does anyone have a recommendation on a file structure that has stood the test of time without breaking or things being lost and hard to find?

I’ve used the structure and naming convention in the generate directories script here since 2004 or so for teaching materials.

Individual lecture notes, slides etc. get named and tagged by week number. So if I’m teaching the same course on a different schedule I can refer back to week X of a prior iteration easily.

The key here is keeping anything that’s not ephemeral or tied to the particular iteration of a course out of the teaching directory. If there’s an article or something that I decide to assign, I might stick it in a course folder temporarily but in the long run I’ll move it out & into my reference manager.

Also - note in the script I don’t keep the files under Documents - this goes back to when I had the whole hierarchy under Windows 3.1 (My Documents) - I prefer to use a base folder that apps aren’t going to start arbitrarily adding their own folders to.

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I’ve had Hazel for a few years now and it has worked away at very little really…until now.

This podcast came at a perfect time (half term), so now I have more rules in my Downloads folder to file away receipts and statements, plus to monitor the iCloud folder Scanner Pro uses to file scans. My life is getting more organised, and I like it :slight_smile:

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I’m glad to hear it! Hazel is great for “set it and forget it” - those rules keeping running even in term time is ideal!

I used to use it for Kindle. It was a bit clunky but, as you say, it works.

(I do less reading now.) :frowning:

Thanks for the workflow @MacSparky. This is just what I needed.

@RosemaryOrchard You mentioned you have a script for opening a download in Zotero, would you mind sharing that? I’ve often wished I could just put my academic papers in a folder and have them automatically go into zotero, which will get the metadata itself if the file is OCR’d and in the google scholar or somewhere similar (I’m not sure where Zotero gets it’s metadata.)

On this topic, I hope I can blow your mind here - are you aware of ZotHero? An Alfred workflow that makes accessing citations, attachments and more from Zotero so amazingly simple and quick?
It can be found here:

Thanks for the podcast.

I have Hazel open the file in Zoteto - simple :slight_smile:

Doh. It’s that simple. And there I was looking through applescript dictionaries. Thanks.

Do check out ZotHero. You’ll like it, if you ever need to access your Zotero attachments or information.

Also re: ZotHero - if any python gurus want to take on the task of maintaining and updating it, I’m sure Dean would be grateful - he’s not an academic and took it on as a favour after the developer of the ZotQuery workflow stopped maintaining it.

@dfay Absolutely. It’s a miracle workflow for me and Dean did a load of work for an online community that was moaning about how the old workflow had stopped working. I bought him a beer or two via his page, that’s another option for non-python gurus.
@RosemaryOrchard I created a watched folder that I put pdfs into that I want imported/added/opened in Zotero, using ‘Open with Zotero’ in Hazel, and it always asks if I want to import the file into zotero, but then gives the error ‘The selected file is not in a supported format.’ It seems to be trying to import a bibliographical format. Do your pdfs just go straight in and then get checked for metadata?

Sorry, I should have mentioned these are .ris files (or whichever bibliographic format it is). The PDFs or actual documents get saved into DEVONThink in my case.

Aaah. Well that explains it. Zotero doesn’t have an applescript dictionary, so the only other way I know of to import a file is to drag it in. I could create a KM macro that open a zotero window on the left, a finder window on the right and have some sort of automated drag take place, but that seems messy to the extreme.

Can anyone suggest any other ways?