Aug 6 2010
Hazel is a happy little System Preference that helps you keep files organized through automation. Just like Rules in Mail.app can help you organize your incoming email and save you time and confusion, Hazel and look after folders of files that might otherwise get out of control quickly.
Hazel is $21.95 US (or $39.95 US for a 5 pack).Today, I’m going to show you how I use Hazel to keep my Desktop clutter-free. It kind of reminds me of when I’d go off to summer camp and, when I came home, I found that my Mom had totally cleaned my room and organized all my treasures into the drawers and shelves that were hiding under the mountains of mess in my room. Hazel can do that too…but she’s not going to wait until summer or send you to camp while she does it.
I have Hazel set up to watch my Desktop…
If you haven’t already, download, install and activate Hazel. By default, Hazel has a few handy folders already added to the ones she watches but I’m going to show you how to add folders so that you can be empowered to go off on your own and learn how to set up Hazel to do other tasks by yourself.
While under the Folders tab, click the + at the bottom of the Folders sidebar and choose your Desktop from the window that drops down.
You should now see “Desktop” as one of the folders listed in then sidebar.
Set down the Rules…
Next you’ll want to tell Hazel what kind of files to look for on your Desktop and what to do about them.
Click the + below the Rules pane to create a new rule.
For this example, I’m going to set up a rule to look for any movie files I’ve left lying around my desktop since yesterday and I’m going to have Hazel move them to a folder I have already set up to receive them. So, not only will Hazel get the files off my Desktop, she can put them in appropriate places based on criteria I set. She won’t just sweep stuff under the rug.
So here, you see, I’ve named the Rule “Movies” and I’ve set Hazel to only act if all the conditions are met. Those conditions are that the file be of the Kind “Movie” and that it hasn’t been modified in the last day1 . This means that if I put a movie on my desktop that hasn’t been saved or altered in the last day, Hazel is going to tidy it away for me, but I’ll know exactly where to look for it.
As you can see, I’ve told Hazel to move the file to a folder called “Lazy Movies” because I was too lazy to put it away myself. If you think you might use Hazel to tidy unique items with generic names like “Untitled.mov”, you should click the Options button and select “rename” beside “If file exists” so that those commonly named files don’t overwrite each other.
Once you’ve clicked OK to this, Hazel will go to work looking for loitering movie files on your Desktop.
Next you’ll want to make “lazy” folders and Rules for all the other file types you commonly leave lying around your Desktop. Here’s the list I have set up. For each one, set up a new Rule and specify the Kind and point it to an appropriate folder. Follow the example of the Movies Rule and you’ll do fine.
If you need certain Rules to be run before others, you can reorder them by dragging and dropping them in the list.
You’ll notice the last item on my list is “Everything Else.” This Rule only asks if the file was last modified over 1 day ago, it doesn’t care what type of file it is. This is because, if the file were a movie, a folder, a URL, a picture or anything else on my list, it would have been dealt with by the other Rules before it got to the last one. This one deals with whatever is left over and puts it in a “junk drawer” of sorts.
It’s a good idea to look through your “Everything Else” folder every so often to see if there are any files types in there that are common enough to warrant their own Rule and their own folder.
That’s it!In no time, you’ll have a clean, clear desktop and a series of organized folders loaded with those things you couldn’t find the time to organize on your own. Your digital maid, Hazel, took care of it all for you.
- You might also experiment with using “Date added” and see which works best for you [↩]