Quick Tips: 3 Uses for Hazel


Hazel is a preference pane from Noodlesoft that lets you perform actions on your folders based on certain criteria. Here’s a list of several things you can do with it and how to set them up.

Clean your Downloads folder

At the end of the day, my Downloads folder is always stuffed with disk images, half-completed download files, and everything in between. You can clean out any cruft easily using Hazel. Hazel even includes some example actions for your Downloads folder, like moving all photos to your Pictures folder and labeling them blue. But here we’re just going to set it to clear out old disk images.

  1. Open up Hazel in System Preferences and click on your Downloads folder in the left pane (it should be there already, if not, add it with the + button).
  2. Click the + button to add a new rule.
  3. Give the rule a description. I just put “DMG”.
  4. On the first line, set it so it reads Extension is dmg, and set the action line to Move file to folder: Trash like so:
  5. What you have now will delete any disk image in your Downloads folder. That’s not what we want, so we’re going to set it so it only deletes disk images that are older than a day. Click the + to create a new condition. Set this one to Date Added is not Today, and your window should look like this:

Of course, you can change the date to anything you want. And you can add any file type to clear out, so if you download a lot of PDFs, just create a new condition referencing PDFs.

Zip/Unzip Folder

The usefulness of this is debatable, however the concept is still neat: just drag any file into this folder, and it’s compressed and pushed to the desktop.

  1. Create a new folder called “Zip” (or whatever you want).
  2. Add that folder to Hazel by clicking the + on the left side.
  3. Create a new rule by clicking the + on the right side, and name it anything.
  4. Set the conditions to Any File.
  5. Add an action and set it to Archive file.
  6. Add another action and set it to Move file to folder: Desktop. Your window should look like this when you’re done:

You can also make another folder that unzips anything dropped into it. Just change Archive file to Unarchive file.

Torrent Folder

This one’s a lot more useful: A folder that automatically opens any torrent files dropped into it.

  1. Create a new folder and call it “Torrents” (or whatever you want).
  2. Add that folder to Hazel.
  3. Create a new rule and name it anything.
  4. Set the conditions to Extension is torrent.
  5. Set the action to Open file with application: Default Application. Your window will look like this when you’re done:

If you have another Mac with Dropbox and Hazel, you can set this so that you can put a torrent file into a folder on your Dropbox and have it sync over to your other Mac, which will then download that torrent. This is also useful if you have ted, which downloads torrents of all your favorite TV shows. Simply reference ted’s folder, which should be in your Home directory.


My ideas can only go so far. The real potential in Hazel lies in adapting it to your own workflow. Play around with it, see what you can do, and then let us know in the comments what you came up with.


Eric Krause

Why not use the “Date Added” “is not in the last” “1” day

@Link That only works if transmission is open. This option I believe would actually start transmission for you.


Hazel’s great for cleaning up download folders and putting stuff where it’s supposed to go. There are some people with Hazel rules that put the basic stuff to shame but I’m not one of them…though i’m working on it. I think of Hazel as one of those tools that makes a computer an actual time saver. Which is why many of us “supposedly” buy a computer.


I love Hazel. I have it set up so when I download TV shows from newsgroups (Using Unison), it will take the files, and throw them into my TV show folder on my desktop. Then it’s set to watch my TV show folder for any new AVI files, which will then drop them into a Compressor droplet I created, so it outputs iPhone-ready videos for me.

Essentially I set Unison to download all the shows I want to watch right before I go to bed, and when I wake up I have the HD version of the show to watch when I have time on my computer, but I also have an iPhone-ready version I can watch on my 1-hour commute to work in the morning (and back!)

I suppose I could make it even better by having it automatically add those files into iTunes for me. Hmmmmmm!


Got a bunch of Hazel rules up and running. One of my faves: got desktop folders for clippings, screenshots, weblocs and iPhone photo’s. Whenever I drag a clipping, a url, an iPhone photo onto the Desktop or when I make a screenshot all items automatically or saved in their own folders. I always know where to find them.

Lou Borella

What if Hazel is watching a folder for me and I duplicate that folder in the finder. Will the duplicate be watched by Hazel as well? (Im guessing no)

I’m asking because I have a workflow that consists of a Master Folder Template that I duplicate and rename for each job. I would love to automate some of the functions in my workflow but I haven’t found a solution that works when I duplicate my Master Template Folder.


Great tips, but the “Date Added is not Today” condition is a bad idea if you work close to midnight. You download something at 23:52 and ten minutes later is gone.

I suggest add another condition, “Date Addded is not Yesterday”.


Zip/unzip can be done with an automator application. And the auto torrent thing is handled by Transmission internally. ;)

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