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I'm working to set up a paperless filing system. Although I've got several pieces in place, one of the parts that slows me down the most is putting a scanned file into the right folder. Find the folder and then dragging and dropping the file over is really tedious when I'm staring at a mound of papers that need to be filed.

What would be much much better is if I could "file" a file without having to touch the trackpad, i.e. only using the keyboard, but I'm stumped at how to do this.

My setup

Inspired by the ebook Paperless, I'm using the following:

  • Fuji ix500 scanner
  • Simple folder structure using MacOS and finder (with the OCR capabilities of the bundled software of the Fuji scanner coupled with the search capabilities of Mac OS, I can find pretty much any file I need just using search)
  • Hazel, for automatically extracting dates from file contents and sometimes moving files.

What I've tried

I started going down the path of setting up Hazel rules to capture the majority of documents that I file. The benefit of this is that if the Hazel looks inside a file with, say, the name of my mortgage company, the rule will have the file automatically moved to the folder for my mortgage company.

The drawback to this approach is that it's tedious to set up each rule, and there's a long tail of documents that are unique enough to not justify making a rule. So then the process comes down to two things:

  1. Name the file
  2. Put the file in the correct subfolder

I can speed up naming the file with tools like Text Expander, but I'm stumped at how to speed up putting the file into the correct subfolder.

What I'd like to do is something like this:

  1. Have the file selected in finder.
  2. Press Spacebar to preview the contents to know how to name it.
  3. Press Enter to edit the name.
  4. Edit the name and press enter.
  5. [this is the part that doesn't exist yet....] Press a shortcut to bring up a text box that asks where I want to move the file.
  6. I start typing and autocomplete starts narrowing down the folders.
  7. I arrow down to the correct folder and press enter.
  8. The file is moved to the folder I chose.
  9. The next file in finder is now selected so I can quickly file it (back to step 2).

I'd be open to trying Apple Script if it helped me accomplish my goal, but I'm not even sure if Apple Script can help with this sort of thing.

So to restate my original question, what's a quick way to "file" a file manually into a folder on my machine only using the keyboard?

  • If the amount of folders is relatively small, you could just use <kbd>CMD+C</kbd> to copy the file, then use <kbd>CMD+Tab</kbd> to find the folder, and finally move the file to that folder with <kbd>CMD+Option+V</kbd>. – Rushil Srivastava Jan 13 at 20:05
  • "I start typing and autocomplete starts narrowing down the folders." You could not do this in applescript directly. You could write object C, swift or any other language app to do this which you call from applescript. – historystamp Jan 28 at 21:46
  • Once you get this working, would you be willing to make it available to others? I'd be interesting in using it or modifying it to work with photos. – historystamp Jan 28 at 21:47
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If your Mac is running Mavricks or later, you could try opening multiple tabs using CMD+T in a Finder window to rapidly copy/move files from the "source" folder where your scanned files are located (in the first tab) to other "destination" folders visible in the other tabs. Press CTRL+TAB to move forward to the next tabbed window or CTRL+SHIFT+TAB to move backwards to the previous tabbed window. If you know which destination folders you'll be moving your files to then you can open a tab with each of those folders visible before you get started. Do your file preview & rename in your first tab, then press CMD+C to copy the file. Press CTRL+TAB however many times you need to move to the destination tab then press CMD+OPT+V to move the file into that folder.

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You could use Applescript if you have filenames that « showed » which folder they will belong in. So the folder AAA will have all files with filenames staring with A or a etc. Was involved with something similar for results files (about 200,000) where the first two characters defined one part, next two characters another part etc Worked great : was when filenames were limited to 8.3 way back when...

The script to move the files from source to wherever will be a nice exercise, could also include a copy for backup...

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I am currently developing an app (https://taggytagger.com) that does something similar using tags. It's not yet released but you can sign-up for beta access.

Basically, you select a folder that the app watches for file changes. If a new file is added to that folder and gets a specific tag, the app executes a copy/move action.

So, in your step 5 you would instead select a tag to move the file. FYI: Tags can be added using shortcuts as well. Here is a quick How-to setup a keyboard shortcut for tags written by me.

Right now, the app is limited in that regard, though, because there are only 4 pre-defined action tags (dropbox, box, onedrive & gdrive, provided these services are installed). However, the destination folders are freely selectable.

Generally, I'm open to feedback. So, if it appears to be useful to create more/your own action tags, happy to put it on the roadmap.

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