Getting started with Hazel

I am biting the bullet and moving my document storage away from Evernote to a system folder structure. My plan is to start setup the system with all new files and overtime move the archive from Evernote.

I bought the latest paperless field guild which was great, but I’m still looking for some guidance on using Hazel which looks very powerful.

My initial workflow plan looking something like this:

  1. Files collect in the inbox for me to action on (e.g., read the document, pay the bill, etc.)
  2. Move into the action folder which Hazel monitors
  3. Hazel renames the file and files in the correct place.

Seems simple enough, but I am stuck on the logic/best practices for step #3. Starting from scratch I figured I would build the rules over time as unknown files came into the workflow.

What is the best way to set this up?

a) should the first rule try to rename/add the date format to all files that come in (assuming it can match) and then let subsequent rules find the dates that fail the first match? I think this would mean the subsequent rules would only look for another identifier and add any other remaining conventions and move (e.g., AMEX -> Finance/[year]). Or should each rule rename (both date and any other convention) and then move?

b) For one-off files that don’t warrant building a rule to move, how do you effectively move (would this be something like Alfred or something else) and add at least a consistent date convention to the file name?

c) Through some other automation (which I dont control the detail of) I have a number of files that get automatically delivered into dropbox folders (e.g., File/[Account 1], File/[Account 2], etc.). It’s great that I already have a folder structure around this by account, but what I want to accomplish is 1) moving from dropbox to my inbox so I can easily review and then 2) once I move into the action folder have it auto filed into the right folder in the my new file structure (which is not in dropbox).

Presumably for #1 Hazel can look into sub folders and move all files so I dont have to setup a rule for each account folder? In this case, should I have hazel rename files on the initial move or once I’ve added into the action folder? Obviously I could do it either way, but would one be easier than then other?

I use tags to drive the organization. Hazel watches my Action folder. Files with a “work” tag get moved to a “work” folder, and “home” files go to a “home” folder. Hazel watches each of those and moves files from there into sub folders based on other file tags.

The Hazel Mac Sparky Field Guide would be a good place to get started with Hazel!

It’s written around V4 and Hazel is now on V5. But the fundamental principles of Hazel have not changed at all. V5 is all about the wrapper really - its now a standalone app rather than a preference pane.

Here’s a bare structure w/o the thinking which would take gobs of time to layout clearly.

Create a folder called vDesktop.
Have Hazel move everything from the desktop and downloads folder there.
Save everything to there including dragging all emails to there or the Desktop.
Have Hazel file everything from there.
Get Keyboard Maestro (KM).
Make a KM Palette with filing shortcuts to filing items that are more than a one off but aren’t frequent enough to make a Hazel rule for.
Use KM to simplify making Hazel rules.
Develop your Hazel rules and KM macros filing system.