Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Hazel 5

Alex Guyot:

Hazel is a classic Mac automation tool which we last covered several years ago for version 4. This week Hazel is back with version 5, a major update which brings the tool out of System Preferences for the first time.


Hazel 5’s interface combines the folders and rules views into a single multi-column layout. This change makes the app much more fluid to navigate, and the new ability to group folders makes organization far nicer as well. While editing rules you can now detach the editor view from the main window, making side-by-side editing of multiple rules possible for the first time.

Update (2020-12-09): Paul Kim:

The most obvious thing you’ll probably notice is that Hazel is no longer a preference pane, instead shipping in an app form factor. Why? The main reason is Apple. If you missed my post on this topic, in short, Apple screwed over preference panes in Catalina. The result is a buggy mess and I’ve seen almost no improvement on that front since then. It seemed clear to me that preference panes were a developmental dead end.

I had already been planning on releasing a version 5 so I was prepared to make some major changes. Problem was, I had to make sure I released 5.0 around when Apple’s next OS (now known as Big Sur) would arrive. Why? Because any Big Sur compatibility work put into Hazel 4 would most likely not be usable in version 5. Partly because of the major changes between the two but mostly because many of the issues that affect preference panes since Catalina aren’t a problem for apps. I could either do double the work or cut my losses and do a big push for version 5 in the time available. The downside is that the conversion to an app displaced other features I had planned. Some of these will make it into point releases but the bigger ones may have to wait until 6.0.

See also: Hazel 5.0 Release Notes.


Update (2021-01-04): Paul Kim:

As promised, I thought I’d write about my launch. While not disastrous, it had its share of bumps. I had hoped that I had learned something from the Hazel 4 launch four years ago. One of the issues was server capacity.


Hazel is codesigned and notarized yet on some people’s systems, it would reject Hazel, either wholesale or in parts.


As for the issue, it seems that 10.13 has problems with certain named/system colors when the app is linked against 11.0. Solution was to do special-case code for 10.13 using non-named colors.


And with all of the above issues, I had to deal with thousands of people reporting them. Especially in the first few days, it was a frantic balancing act of being responsive to users while trying to carve out time to investigate the issues they were reporting.


Oddly, I found that the press was noticeably absent. It seems that even though the Mac market keeps growing, there are fewer and fewer outlets reporting and reviewing Mac products. Hazel has enough of a following that it didn’t matter as much but it feels as if things have regressed on that front, which is a bit sad.

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Hazel is great, any Mac without Hazel has a lobotomy.

Just one workflow using tags: Have a folder called App_Archive on an external drive. Make a Hazel rule that if tag on an archive file equals ‘app’ then move to App_Archive. Apply the tag to any zip or dmg file, and they get filed. That’s a really basic flow.

Hazel also has a VERY thorough app uninstaller. Trash any app, and a dialog appears that will trash all associated files by folder hierarchy to the trash. Put the App back and all the files go back too.

Paul added other features that I haven’t even touched on yet. It works great on Catalina.

Hazel is magic, and one really big reason to “stay on Mac”.

Alfred is the other, but that’s another post.

"Hazel is magic, and one really big reason to “stay on Mac”."

Hazel was one of the things I initially missed when switching to Windows, but it turns out there are pretty direct alternatives (e.g. File Juggler). However, once I discovered AutoHotKey, everything changed, and now I can never use any other platform ever again :-D

Those look like really nice tools. Gotta say.

I hope Apple straightens out their security/privacy issues on Big Sur. But if they don’t, looks like there really are viable options out there.

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