#InCoWriMo Letters: Yes We Scan Them @dowdyism And A Bit More

In Episode 140 of the Pen Addict, Brad discussed a blog post by Dennis McDonald where Dennis said that he scanned his correspondence before sending it out. Brad said this was "genius" and it "boggled his mind" that people did this. Being an avid letter writer myself, it boggles my mind that anyone who has access to a scanner wouldn't be doing this already. If I didn't do this I would forget the topics that me and any given pen pal had already discussed, the time lag between sending a letter and receiving a reply is simply too long and I have too many simultaneous conversations on the go at any given time. 

Within weeks of starting the scanning routine I realized that I needed a system to keep track of all of these files so I based my system on the one outlined in the Paperless Field Guide by MacSparky. When I scan a letter, the scanner software requests a file name, at this point TextExpander is used to apply a consistent file name structure:

Letter-SenderName_To_ReceiverName_YYYY-MM-DD.pdf

The SenderName and ReceiverName are selected from a drop down list in TextExpander. If the name isn't in the list, I hard type it in. Since you both send letters to, and receive letters from the same people, these two lists should have the same members. Here is what it looks like when you are naming the file. 

Obviously you would only populate the drop down lists with the people you write to and hear from the most. 

Obviously you would only populate the drop down lists with the people you write to and hear from the most. 

Now that the scanned letter is saved, it is time to file it away. At this point a program called Hazel kicks in. It specializes in looking at files contained within a specific folder and performing actions on them based upon a recipe that you create. In this example, Hazel sees the "Letter-" flag at the beginning of the file name, as well as a date at the end, and the program knows to perform the "Move Letters" recipe that I have created for my scanned letters.

The Hazel recipe that I use.

The Hazel recipe that I use.

This Hazel recipe skips to the end of the file name to find the "Year" and "Month" information that has been appended there. You will have to create a custom FileNameDate token to read this date but it is easily done as is shown below.

How to build the custom token.

How to build the custom token.

This FileNameDate token is used again for naming the subfolders into which the scanned letter is moved. Since we only want to use the year and month portion of the toketo name the subfolders, we have to edit the date pattern. The date pattern looks like this for the subfolder.

Editing the subfolder date pattern

Editing the subfolder date pattern

So we now have a Hazel recipe that reads the file name of scanned letter that is sitting in the "Scans" folder and then takes this information and uses it to move the scanned letter to the "Paul's Letters" folder in Dropbox. This "Paul's Letters" folder contains sub folders with YYYY-MM names. If an appropriate YYYY-MM folder doesn't exist, Hazel creates it.

Everything is now filed away and it was all done automagically.

Everything is now filed away and it was all done automagically.

Since the letter is saved in Dropbox I have access to it where ever I have access to the Internet.