getting started with hazel

Getting started with Hazel

Hazel is one of the coolest Mac apps for productivity geeks I’ve come across. If you like the idea of automatically moving and renaming documents on your computer, then this is the app for you (and that’s just the beginning).

What is Hazel?

Hazel is a system preferences app that you can train to watch certain folders on your Mac. When files or folders within that target folder meet certain criteria, you have Hazel perform actions on those items.

Hazel example

For example:

  • Clear items from the downloads folder when they’re more than 7 days old.
  • Rename statements, receipts and invoices and move them to a separate folder where you keep everything organised.
  • Automatically convert images into PDFs.
  • Tag or add a label to a file if it contains certain keywords.

And a lot more…

You can also set Hazel to automatically empty your Trash when files reach a certain age or if the trash gets too full (e.g. greater than 1GB). And when it comes to uninstalling apps from your Mac, you can have Hazel scan the computer for small system files that apps often leave behind.

In a nutshell, Hazel is your all in one virtual assistant for keeping your Mac clean and tidy.

Here’s a quick walkthrough

In this video, I’ll show you the basics of Hazel and one of the coolest features – the ability to rename files based on dates found inside the file. This is great for invoices and receipts where I like to name the files based on the invoice date (and not the date the file was downloaded or created).


If you want to automatically OCR pdfs using Hazel like I do in the video, you can use the following AppleScript (requires PDFPenPro):

tell application "PDFpenPro 6"
open theFile as alias
tell document 1
    repeat while performing ocr
        delay 1
    end repeat
    delay 1
    close with saving
end tell
tell application "PDFpenPro 6"
end tell
end tell

Advanced Hazel actions

And this is just the beginning…

Hazel can perform loads of actions on files, like archiving, adding labels and tags, running JavaScript and Automator Workflows, uploading to server and it even integrates with Mac apps like Photos and iTunes.

Here are some more cool things you can do with Hazel:

If you’re already using Hazel, please let me know what kind of things you’re automating. I’d love to learn more about how people are saving time with this app.