Workflow for reference files

Reference files other than academic articles are those files that I do not import in Papers. It may be simply because their file types are not compatible with Papers (Papers works best with pdf files whereas I often come across .doc, html, txt, xls and various image files). It may also be because these files are not really articles: they may be notes, emails, maps, charts, diagrams, data tables, draft manuscripts etc. Finally they may actually be articles but not of the type I would like to load in my Papers library (e.g. on subjects I am not really interested in and want to keep them “just in case”).

Such files can be filed by simply dragging them to Leap’s sorter. You can also tag them at the same time. Emails, MacJournal entries and lots of other things can be dragged to Leap and will become properly filed (and tagged if you want) files.

If you don’t have time for tagging you can also file through an automated Hazel workflow. Here is how this workflow looks for me:


This workflow automatically sorts all files in the Downloads folder into Year-Month-Day subfolders as described in the entry on storing academic files. Adding @n to file names (optional rule) may be needed for tagging files later. Or you can add automatic tagging with Leap in your workflow:

If you already have many academic files that you want to re-order according to the new rules, you can also use Hazel. Just run a similar rule on the directory which contains your current references (for me it is “Documents/Materials and data”). In order to cover all subfolders you actually need to run two rules:

The first rule ensures that all subfolders in my Materials and data folder are covered. Inside, it looks as follows:


The second rule is very similar to the one I run on the Downloads folder but it selects all appropriate data files, not just those with “@a” in the filename:

In order to save time you can actually duplicate the Downloads rule and then drag it to the Materials and Data (or whatever the name of your reference folder is) folder rules.


About Aleh Cherp

Aleh Cherp is a professor at Central European University and Lund University. He researchers energy and environment and coordinates MESPOM, a Masters course operated by six Universities.
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2 Responses to Workflow for reference files

  1. Pingback: Organizing email | Academic workflows on Mac

  2. Pingback: Removing duplicate reference files with Gemini | Academic workflows on Mac

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