I’ve been listening to a recent episode of Mac Power Users dedicated to Hazel. I fucking LOVE Hazel and it’s one of those tools that I love to tinker with (but try and limit how much time I sink into it). I’m always looking for new ways to use it and I guess it’s time I give back by sharing some more of my favourite rules.
This rule I created early in 2015 to archive files off of my Macbook Pro drive is still working great, albeit with a few minor tweaks. Macbook drives are pretty low on storage these days, and I deal in a lot of large audio files, so I need Hazel to keep a close eye on them and offload them onto USB drives about a month after I create them.
Photos and videos take up a lot of room too, so I use Hazel to take all of them that are a month old and archive them to Dropbox. That way I can pull them up on my phone or Mac whenever I need them, but they are out of the way.
BOOKS INTO EVERNOTE
For all of my history podcasts, I like to have text versions of my source books in Evernote so I can cut and paste as needed. So when I download a new Kindle book from Amazon, Hazel notices the new file (in the Kindle folder), and opens it in Calibre, when then converts the epub into a text file. Hazel then grabs the new text file (from the Calibre directory) and opens it in Evernote.
I use Stickies a lot to store bits of data I often need quickly – eg URLs for podcast feeds that people ask me for, Textexpander shortcuts, Macbook keyboard shortcuts, etc. But from time to time I want to do a clean install of OSX on my Mac and the Stickies database usually isn’t something I remember to backup, because it’s buried in the app directory. So I have Hazel take a daily backup of it for me and throw it into Dropbox.
Email me or leave a comment if you have cool Hazel rules to share.
Since I bought my latest 13″ Macbook Pro with the minuscule on-board flash storage, I’ve had to build systems to offload large and/or old files onto external storage. But to make sure I always have access to those files even when I don’t have my Macbook or USB drives close at hand, I’ve got the current docs stored in Google Drive. Anything that’s six months old or older, is archived in Dropbox. So I need to search for them from time to time and I wanted Alfred to do that for me. For some reason Dropbox search isn’t built into Alfred’s web search features, so I built a custom search and now I’m sharing it with you.
I’m often only interested in the search results that are fairly recent – for example, if I’m looking for “great apps for iphone”, I don’t want results from 2007. But if you perform a search in Google, there’s no simple way to restrict it’s time query except for mucking about with the “search tools” options, which adds clicks and time and cognitive load to a search.
Fortunately I’ve just found a clever way to do it in Chrome (Mac), thanks to PigeonLab.
If you open up Chrome’s preferences, you’ll find a section that allows you to add new search engines.
Once you open that up, if you scroll to the bottom, you’ll find this box:
Then, follow PigeonLab’s instructions:
- Add a name for your new engine, a keyword to use to trigger the use of this engine, and the following URL
This URL is set to only return results from the last year. You can also use the following to set your preferred time frame. Just replace the “tbs=qdr:y” between the ampersands in the URL with one of the time frame codes from the list below.
&tbs=rltm:1 [real time results]
&tbs=qdr:s [past second]
&tbs=qdr:n [past minute]
&tbs=qdr:h [past hour]
&tbs=qdr:d [past 24 hours (day)]
&tbs=qdr:w [past week]
&tbs=qdr:m [past month]
- Then click somewhere else in the pop-up window to unset the focus from your new engine.
- Once your new engine is no longer highlighted it will be moved intoÂ alphabeticalÂ order in the list
- Find your new engine and hover over it, a blue “Make Default” button should appear near the right hand side of the engine URL. Â Click the button to make this engine the default and don’t forget to click the save button at the bottom of the pop-up window.
- BOOM! all your searches in the omnibox should now return only results from the last 12 months.
I do most of my best thinking behind the steering wheel after meetings and I’m always looking for ways to capture those ideas before I forget them.
I wrote a post a couple of years ago about using Siri to transcribe voice-to-text into an email that it would send to Evernote. That’s worked well for me but it has some limitations – mostly that if you’re trying to write a long note and you pause to think, Siri will assume you are finished and cut you off mid-sentence.
So I have a new system that I find works even better.
Dropvox is an iPhone app that will a) record your voice and b) automatically save the recording to Dropbox. There are other apps that will do a similar thing, but I like Dropvox for two reasons.
1) It has a HUGE RED BUTTON making it easy to press while driving.
2) It has a setting that will start recording as soon as the app opens, which means you don’t even have to press the button!
Of course you can record notes into Evernote directly but it takes a few clicks and the in-app record button is the size of ant’s balls. This is more like an elephant.
So while driving I can activate Siri and simply say “Open Dropvox” (making sure I over-emphasise the “VOX” so it doesn’t open DropBOX by mistake) and, when it opens, I start recording my note. When I hit the huge red elephant-sized STOP button, Dropvox will automatically upload the file to Dropbox.
Now – here’s the magic.
On my Macbook I have a Hazel rule setup to grab new notes in the Dropvox folder under my main Dropbox folder, and open them in Evernote! So when I get back to the office after my meeting and open my Macbook, I’ll magically get my audio note open in Evernote a minute later (once Dropbox has synched).
I finally bit the bullet yesterday and bought a new Macbook Pro (13″). My 2009 17″ had been on life support for the best part of 18 months and the cost of keeping it running was delivering diminishing returns.
The problem I have now is: how do I live with only 256 GB internal storage?
Here’s what I’ve set up so far but I’d be happy for suggestions on how to improve it.
1. Previously I had my DOCUMENTS folder sitting inside GOOGLE DRIVE. It was pretty large (>65GB). So I’ve set up HAZEL to automatically grab files that either a) haven’t been modified in the last six months or b) are larger than 50MB and haven’t been modified in the last week, and move them into a Dropbox folder which sits on a portable USB drive, maintaining the same folder structure. So I still have access to those files in the cloud, but they are off my local drive.
2. For redundancy purposes, I’ve got SYNC FOLDER PRO set up to automatically keep the portable drive in sync with an old 4TB drive I have on my desk. So when I’m traveling, I can take my 1TB drive with me – if it gets lost, stolen or fries, I have a backup. My photos and videos are all on the 1TB drive too, so they are always being backed up in case of disaster.
3. Of course I have TIME MACHINE backing up my internal drive.
4. And I’m keeping all of the documents that are less than six months old in GOOGLE DRIVE.
Any suggestions on better ways of living with a small hard drive?
If you have ever wanted to feed your system audio into a Skype call – for example, you’re recording a podcast and you want to play a clip from a song or a movie or a voicemail from a listener and you want the other person on your call to hear it and you also want it to come through cleanly on your recording – then this might help (assuming you’re on a Mac).
I’ve wanted to do this for ages and just figured it out. As it turns out, it wasn’t difficult at all and I should have taken the time to work it out ages ago. So I’m writing this for anyone else who might go searching for a solution.
Here are the apps you’ll need to install:
1. Audio Hijack
1. Set up a new Audio Hijack session we below. So what you’ll end up with is two audio inputs – your mic and your system audio (or you could make the second one an app, like iTunes or Chrome, etc) feeding into your headphones and then through to Soundflower.
2. Once you’ve done that, open up your Skype settings and set “input” to Soundflower.
Once you’ve done that – you’re set.
Turn on Audio Hijack my clicking the round button in the lower left corner.
When you want to feed your secondary audio source into Skype, just click the secondary source node in Audio Hijack and set its status to “on”.
When you have finished with that piece of audio, turn its status back to “off”.
That’s pretty much all there is to it.
Using Audio Hijack and Soundflower to feed System Audio into Skype