I cleaned out my Downloads folder!

First time since I got the laptop in 2015.

I haven’t kept good hygiene in the Downloads folder. When busy or distracted I’d dump things there and never return to organize it. It had useful stuff (even some apps, if you can believe it) that I just grabbed via filenames in Alfred. So I couldn’t just delete it all… but it’s been weighing on me. In fact, Finder was slowing down when I scrolled around in there. So, yesterday and today, I finally went through it by hand and cleared it out. Now I’ve got a Hazel rule that will handle it for me. Phew.

The dog barely stirred, let alone get up to congratulate me…

…so I’m looking for an “attaboy” or a :raised_hands: from the MPU crew. Anyone? Anyone? :sweat_smile:

(Now I’ve just gotta deal with the “misc from Downloads” folder I created on my desktop…)


Nice Job!!! :cookie: :+1:

I went through that ordeal a few years ago…I created some Hazel rules to monitor the folder and breaks it down into the following folders (within Downloads).

Disk Images

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My Download folder is in a mess and I dread to do this exercise. What other Hazel rules do you use to clean this up?

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Damn! Is that dog ok?

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Well done!

My Downloads folder is fine, but I still have a “_SORT” file in my Dropbox archive that I’ve been ignoring for several years, so I can’t throw any stones.

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I have a similar folder.

Finally taught myself: if I haven’t needed a document in my “handle later” folder, then think twice, then delete it.

I’ve collected so much dreck in DEVONthink databases, etc., over the years that I always had great intentions to read later, but never did, that I’m forcing myself to stop saving articles, etc.

It’s possible the internet is a Dalek plot to distract us by placing intriguing eye candy all over the web, that we never have time to savor, but like to save on our computers just in case it’s important. :slight_smile:

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Nice job! I can relate. FWIW, here are two things that make it easy on me to keep mine clear, or batch it out quickly without automation:

  • A folder called “Files” where I keep any downloaded app-related files that I want to archive instead of downloading again the future. Mostly zip, dmg, Alfred workflows and Keyboard Maestro macros. I also have a “Slide Pics” folder where I keep all photos and videos that I have used or may want to use for slide decks.

  • Two Alfred workflows to move files to each of those folders by “actioning” them in Finder. I also have shortcuts to both folders in Dropzone, which opens up in the menubar when I drag a file.

So I have multiple ways to get the files that make up the bulk of my downloads into these two big buckets that can be easily searched later. I either group the Downloads folder by Kind in Finder and drag them, action them with Alfred, or send them via Dropzone. Then I delete the ics calendar invites that have piled up, and I am mostly left with PDFs, the majority of which will end up going to Evernote or my receipts folder.

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@FrMichaelFanous Ah nice, a cookie! A few organizational rules are probably not a bad idea. I just have a destructive one, now. One week and anything left in there is gone forever. Hopefully the imminent destruction will keep me inspired to put things wherever they should go.

@Topre: sadly, if yours is as maligned as mine was, automation wouldn’t help. I had useful files right next to and indistinguishable from useless ones. (E.g., the “v6 final” version of a report next to “v5”.

(This isn’t how I always operate, but when going got tough, good organization went out the door. Even if that happened rarely, it still resulted in a lot of cruft over 5 years.)

@tjluoma / @anon41602260: indeed, I’m not quite done yet. I have a “saved from desktop” folder from a similar cleanup a couple of years ago. I suppose we’re fortunate that decent search apps surface the stuff in these junk drawers when we really need it… or is that a crutch?

@evanfuchs hm. Some quick-move type shortcuts are not a bad idea. I aim to use my desktop for this “workspace”-type shelving of items in the future, instead of my Downloads folder. I’ve also disabled Stacks which were further encouraging the buildup of cruft.

Finally, for @csf111:

Dog photos ahead.Folly appreciates your concern...

…but she is really doing fine!

The girl just really loves to sleep.


Search apps are great … except when you have no idea what’s in all the junk drawers on a computer , then you have no idea what to search for. Hmmm … I wonder if I have a copy of the first constitution of Ghana in here somewhere?

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Greyhounds! Food, 2 walks a day and as many flat surfaces as possible! :wink::two_hearts:

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She has a bed her size (80lbs) in every room (including the backseat and trunk of our SUV). :roll_eyes:

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Exactly how it should be! :grinning: Django owns all of our couches - which can be embarrassing when we have people over!

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Congratulations! That is a big accomplishment.

My downloads is not quite as big a mess but still has over 200 items in it. I’d love to see some of your Hazel rules. I have a few that clean up parts of downloads but not enough of them.

Ha. Sadly I can’t provide much guidance. I went through the old items by hand and sorted out what I wanted to keep. My new Hazel rule is just “Delete items if they’re over a week old”.

I vote we see @FrMichaelFanous’ rules instead!

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Haha thanks @ryanjamurphy
I am just a meager humble user of Hazel not using it to its full potential.

Organizing of files.
Folder being monitored is Downloads. Within Downloads, I have the following breakdown:

Disk Images

Audio Folder Rule - If any of the following conditions are met move them from Downloads to Audio Folder

Conditions are

  1. extension is .mp3
  2. extension is .m4a

I follow the same pattern for all the other folders.
Disk Images - extension is .dmg
Documents - extension is .doc, docx, pages, .xls, .xlsx
Images - .jpeg, .jpg, heic, png
PDFs - .pdf
Presentation - .key, .ppt
Videos -.mov, mp4

Those rules are just for my downloads, I have other rules for photos from my SLR or iPhone. Those are more complex and OCD.

4 folders on my computer.

All Photos - Fr. Michael’s iPhone

  • Rule 1 - if there are subfolders to run rules on the contents of those transferred
  • Rule 2 - Separate screenshots into a separate folder
  • Rule 3 - Move everything into the following folder below

Photos and Videos - 0 - Preprocessing

  • Rule 1 - runs an embedded script to make sure the date created is correct and then makes sure every file has the following format
    FileName - pixel width x pixel height.extension
  • Rule 2 - adds creator/author name to the file (in case files ever get lost or mixmatched)
  • Rule 3 - I assign a color tag to them (just to know what stage of processing it might be in)

After the color assignment, the photos are all sent to the following folder.

Photos and Videos - 1 - Review for Upload

Once the photos start arriving in this folder, another rule is automatically started up. This rule sorts all photos into sub-folders in the following format:


Once all these are done…everything gets moved to the next folder.

Photos and Videos - 2 - Ready for NAS

I check on this folder regularly, I used to have it automated but lately my DiskStation loses connection to the macbook frequently.

At this part, I added a descriptive name next to each photo album and then copy them over to my Synology DiskStation in the following format.

For all SLR photos - this is the directory listing
Photos > YYYY > YYYY-MM-DD Event Name

For all mobile photos - this is the directory listing
Photos > Mobile Devices > Device Owner Full Name > YYYY > YYYY-MM-DD Event Name

This structure helps my wife and I sort and review photos. Sorry for the long post!


Whoa. Thanks for the detail! The photography elements aren’t applicable to me, but it’s still inspiring. Your workflow helps me think of the different phases my own materials go through. I definitely do far too many things all too manually…

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I was hovering over the “like” button till I read this.

I can relate since having my home Mac Mini that runs my Downloads folder Hazel rules offline for a month let that folder become a nightmare.
I put everything temporary in there and delete it after one week (unless it’s in a subfolder).

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I’ve eliminated the Download folder with a Hazel rule that moves anything in there to the desktop and have a bunch of Keyboard Maestro filing shortcuts. Ultimately, it’s (the entire filing structure) all a reflection of what you’re “up to”. For many years it’s been a playground for exploring and wonderful to have the time and space to do so. As my focus has sharpened there’s less time for clutter and things not on a more focused purpose.

Beyond the downloads folder I’ve eliminated folders in Mail and demoted it to an utility. I’ve no interest in more than one filing structure. Again Hazel picks up all the mail Keyboard Maestro drags to the desktop and files most away leaving what needs action from me that gets and is retrieved by Finder tags that now thankfully show in iOS and iPadOS.

It’s been a long road to simplicity. Of course your mileage WILL vary :wink:.

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