Let Hazel Clean Up For You


hazelIf you’re the type who has trouble keeping your Desktop organized, then my friend, I may have the solution for you. Hazel comes in the form of a preference pane for your System Preferences, and helps you to easily setup fairly powerful workflows to perform on any folder on your system. Essentially it’s a simplified way to create and activate Folder Actions for the rest of us.

I’ve been tinkering with Hazel quite a bit in the past couple weeks, and have really seen moments of brilliance in it. The more basic activities of cleaning up folders is great. You don’t have to really know anything about anything to use Hazel, and make her work for you almost immediately.

Probably one of the most obvious examples is using it for your Desktop, or Downloads folder (which are one and the same for me). You might tell Hazel to use a rule on the Desktop folder that goes something like:
Any file that is of Kind Zip that hasn’t been opened in 2 days, move to ~/Documents/downloads

Something I tried was using Hazel to dynamically backup my photo files based on their age. I take lots of pictures, and the space on my hard drive can disappear really quickly. So I told Hazel to watch my Pictures folder for:
Any files that were more than 12 months old, and of Kind .CR2 (my camera’s raw format), and with any comments that are not &keep, and to create an archive.

In theory this would be sweet. The problem I found was that Hazel can’t really tell much difference between files in one folder or another very well, let alone subfolders… I ended up with a Pictures folder that had been removed and replaced with a Pictures.zip file, because it found some files in that met the proper criteria within that folder… So there’s brilliance there, but the devil is in the details I guess. Excuse me while I go back and extract that zip file…

You can get as tricky or as basic as you want with Hazel, and that is what really draws me to her. If you’re script-savvy, you can tell Hazel to run Applescripts, or even Shell scripts on processed files. So just when it seems Hazel can’t handle something you’d like her to do, she throws it back on you to provide the way for her to get from A to Z. So maybe with a little work, I can make my photo archiving rule run as I’d like with some script assistance. There’s a lot of power available in there…

Another feature I like about Hazel is the ability to import and export the rules you create. I imagine the longer I play with this utility, the more complex my rules will become. But I’d love to see what others have come up with also. There’s a Support Forum on Noodlesoft that has a thread for sharing Hazelrules, but unfortunately none had been shared at the time I looked. I Googled ‘.hazelrule’ also, but came up short again. If there are any users of Hazel out there, please share the cool rules you’ve engineered! I’d love to start a successful repository of Hazel rules if there are enough resources out there…

All in all I love Hazel. I’m still ironing out the ways I want to use it, but it’s flexible enough that I’ll be able to make just about anything work that I can think up. You can try Hazel on for size free for 2 weeks. If you find Hazel to suit your needs, there’s a $16 registration fee.



Hi Hazel does seem to sound like a wonder tool but would be a little irritating finding all your files mixed together.

Michael DiSefano

Great review, I currently use hazel to move my downloaded torrent files (TV shows) to my NAS. It routinely scans my movies folder and if the file name contains “Lost” for example it moves it to the appropriate folder on my NAS.

One thing that I can’t seem to get is how to change the frequency in which Hazel runs, does anyone have an idea as to how to accomplish this?

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