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How I went paperless with Hazel and Evernote

Katie Floyd | March 5, 2013
Evernote has become my paperless filing cabinet for everything from receipts to tax documents. One of the things I use it for most frequently is to file the monthly statements for my phone, cable, and other accounts.

AppleScript in Hazel

Now that the file is renamed, the next step in my process is to import the file into my Statements notebook within Evernote and apply tags. For this process I use a bit of AppleScript. Within Hazel, after the renaming step, I choose Run AppleScript as my next action. I can either embed the appropriate bit of AppleScript within my Hazel rule or link to an existing script. The template for the scripts I embed in my Hazel statement rules is:

tell application "Evernote" activate create note from file theFile notebook {"Notebook Name"} tags {"tag1", "tag 2", "tag 3", "tag 4"} end tell

(Note: Everything from create to "tag 4"} should be on one line.)

For each kind of statement, I replace Notebook Name and tag1 and so on with the actual notebook names and tags I want to apply. (If you don't use tags, you could just remove that portion of the script.) Because I'm prone to forgetting this string of script or mistyping it, I've created a TextExpander snippet with fill-in fields for the Notebook names and tags so I can configure my script on the fly. I click the compile button within Hazel when I'm finished with my script and am ready to move on to my next action.

Last steps

In many cases the next step is to have Hazel delete the original PDF statement. But sometimes I have to take other actions first.

For example, my employer reimburses me for my cell phone expenses. So for the Hazel rule associated with my cell phone statement, I've added a step that runs an Automator action that attaches the file to an email addressed to my bookkeeper with a short message. (First, the Get Selected Finder Items action takes the document we're working on with Hazel. Second, the New Mail Message action generates the email with the file as an attachment. I fill out the appropriate details, such as the email address and subject, a message, and the account from which I want to send the message.)

When I'm done with everything, my last action in Hazel is to delete the original downloaded file; since I've already saved the file to Evernote I don't need the duplicate PDF cluttering my Downloads folder. I use the move action within Hazel and select the Trash as the destination.

Once they're safely stored in Evernote, my documents are available for quick reference on my various Macs, iOS devices, and the Web for me to pull up at a moment's notice without my having to mess with paper or rely on service providers to keep copies.

Even if you don't use Evernote, Hazel can still help you manage downloaded documents by automatically renaming and filing them to an appropriate folder. Similarly, if you're scanning files instead of downloading, you could adjust this workflow to monitor a scanned documents folder. Once you have the basic structure of a Hazel rule set up, you can duplicate it and adjust the criteria for all sorts of documents.

 

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