A couple of years ago I reviewed Hazel 3. I found it an indispensable tool if you want to automate file operations by defining conditional rules. Today, Noodlesoft released Hazel 4 and it has become even better than version 3.
One of the things I struggled with at the time was that I couldn’t tell where I went wrong with a set of rules if the result didn’t turn out what I expected. Well, Hazel 4 has a live rule preview. Now, when you’re editing a rule, you can pick any file to see what you’re doing and how the rule's conditions match that file while editing. That is a huge time saver and frustration preventer!
A second new feature that I like very much is rule synchronisation. You can now sync rules to a specific file for multiple folders on the same machine — or across machines (!) by using a file cloud service (Dropbox, iCloud Drive, etc.). A feature that I’m less excited about because I rarely use Smart Folders, is that you can now monitor Smart folders and have rules applied to their contents. It works like with regular folders except that you cannot perform operations involving going into or matching subfiles/subfolders.
Now you can also search for rules. Entering search terms in the field will search across various fields in the rule and filter the rule list as appropriate, so this has been implemented in quite an intelligent way. There are new operators or actions as well. There’s a new "Toggle extension" action to show or hide a file's extension, the "Display Notification" action has an option to play a sound. The attributes have been improved as well. For example, the "anything" (…) attribute is now available in "Sort into subfolder" patterns. This allows you to sort into an existing folder based on only part of the folder name. However, the folder can’t be created for you automatically.
The "counter" attribute has been improved as well. There’s an additional option to use the lowest number available, with the default still being to always increase and an option to use alphanumeric characters instead of numbers.
Another new powerful feature is that you can set a "monitored folder" as a destination for move and copy operations. This will be especially useful for rules that are synchronised, where monitored folders vary and can’t be hardcoded.
When using list-based attributes in a format pattern, you can now pick any element starting from the beginning or end of the list. In Hazel 3, you could only pick all items, the first item or the last item.
Finally, the developer has included pop-up help text in some areas to help point out less often used features.
Hazel 4 is an exciting upgrade. A new licence costs about €30.00. An upgrade is less than €10.00.