Nik's Picks: Automate your Mac with Hazel and Proxi

It’s a special edition of Nik’s Picks today with two whole picks! Why? Because, well, these two apps are great tastes that go great together!

Today, we’re going to talk about automating your Mac with Hazel and Proxi. I’m an avid AppleScripter, and I can’t say enough good things about making those tiny repetitive tasks automatic. I have about thirty or so little scripts (scriptlets, I call ‘em) which do one thing that I often want to do or just would rather have automated.

But these scripts are not necessarily easy to write, even with Automator to help out, and there’s a lot of common jobs you may want to get done which simply aren’t possible without some fairly henious AppleScript-fu.

That’s where our two picks come in…


First, we’ll look at Proxi, from Griffin Technology. This program looks a lot like Automator, at first glance, because, well, it is. You can set up one or more sets of triggers and tasks in a so-called “blueprint.” Okay, that sounds complicated, let’s try this again…

You can tell Proxi to make something happen (a task) whenever something else occurs (a trigger). That better?

What’s a trigger? Well, there’s a bunch. You could trigger on a keystroke, or when a folder changes (very similar to AppleScript’s “Folder Actions,” except somewhat more reliable, in my experience), or in reaction to incoming mail, a press of a button from your Apple remote, or when you use one of Griffin’s input devices like a PowerMate or Airclick.

As for actions, it’s the usual array plus some nifty extras. You can write out a file, send an email, open an application/file, or even kick off an AppleScript!

What makes this especially cool is that you can add some extra complexity to your actions. So you could have a watched folder kick off a script when a file’s added but only do it when the file is of a certain size, or has a certain name. That kind of logic is impossible in Automator, and can even be quite challenging in AppleScript, so this is a far easier solution.

Griffin offers this program as a companion to all of their nifty input devices, but it works just as well without them, and it’s a free download! Thanks, Griffin!


Okay, so enough about Proxi, what about Noodlesoft’s Hazel? Proxi does everything, right? Why do I need or want something else?

Well, Proxi’s a big toolkit, but Hazel is more of a one-stop-shop for doing one thing exceptionally well, and that thing is keep your folders (and trash) neat and tidy.

Hazel is a simple preference pane which lets you add folders that Hazel will watch. When you add files to those folders, Hazel will then apply rules to it. These rules are just like email rules, in that you set the criteria for the rule, and the result of the rule. So files larger than a given size might automatically be archived (zipped), whereas all Word files might get tagged with a certain Spotlight comment.

How can you use this? Well, all kinds of ways! You could add a spotlight comment with a certain project’s name every time you save a file into that project’s folder. Alternately, you could have your Download folder automatically delete leftover partial downloads.

You can also use it to keep your trash clean by selectively deleting old files or large files from the trash, so you never have to empty it and it just sort of “rolls” out the oldest stuff.

The one thing Hazel can’t do with its rules is launch an application or AppleScript. A glaring oversight, in my opinion, but that’s what we have Proxi for, right?

Hazel is $16 and can be downloaded for free to try out.

Twitter, Facebook

Written on September 8, 2006