Organize, Search, and Archive Key Information with EagleFiler, Including Hook-Linked Files!

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EagleFiler is an excellent personal information manager that enables you to import and collect notes, e-mails, and web pages on your Mac, and search them instantly.

EagleFiler is developed by C-Command Software, a company led by Michael Tsai. We recently updated Hook integration scripts to work even better with EagleFiler.

This document showcases using Hook and EagleFiler together, to help you instantly access the information you need to get the job done right, now!

Hook and EagleFiler work very well together

Hook and EagleFiler solve different but tightly related and very important information management problems. (See wikipedia pages on Personal information management and Information retrieval.) They both can improve cognitive productivity. Using them together compounds their benefits.

Some of the benefits of EagleFiler

Because EagleFiler stores its content directly in the Finder, you can access and modify it in the software of your choice in an open, future-proof manner. For instance, you can easily find EagleFiler files using Spotlight, LaunchBar, Alfred, HoudahSpot or (of course!) EagleFiler itself. Basically, any tool that works well with Finder files can work well with EagleFiler.

EagleFiler can create a PDF file for each of your bookmarks. So, if the content you’ve read is taken offline, you will still have a copy. And your imported readings are kept private — they are not stored online (in contrast bookmarking services like Pocket store your readings online). You can then do full content search on, and innumerable other operations with, your archived content.

A web browser is an awful way of reading complex, important material. Browsers are full of distractions. They don’t adequately keep your place after you reboot. They tend to be very cluttered. And they have several other drawbacks.

One of the major benefits of EagleFiler is that you can use a PDF reader of your choice to read and annotate content you’ve downloaded from the web. If you’ve read the “delve deeply” chapters of my two Cognitive Productivity books, you know that there are huge cognitive benefits to using a great PDF reader — like Skim (free app) or PDFPenPro by SmileSoftware — to delve content (i.e., to process it deeply).

For example, this allows you to create an outline, take notes, and even categorize text. Each of these activities may improve understanding and retention.

EagleFiler even stores the source URL of the web page (now PDF), so you can easily navigate back to the original web page. What’s more, EagleFiler has a built-in PDF reader.

EagleFiler also enables you to import email so that you can search and delve it with powerful tools. EagleFiler makes you less dependent on any particular mail app, while keeping your content on your own Mac. Using the same cognitive tool for delving content can make you more productive. You can become more expert in these tools than if your time and effort are fragmented across multiple, changing tools.

EagleFiler does way more than I can describe here, so check out EagleFiler app on c-command.com. Its screenshots will also help you understand the software.

Hook’s “Link to New” can store new linked files in EagleFiler

Hook provides the world’s easiest, most flexible, general and elegant ways of creating a note about anything in the app of your choice: its Link to New commands. In the context of any item (web page, email, etc.) of any sufficient app, you can invoke Hook and use the Link to New command, which, in one fell swoop instantly:

  1. creates the item,
  2. names it (sensibly),
  3. stores it,
  4. links it,
  5. tags it (if it’s a file and if you’ve enabled tagging), and
  6. opens it.

That means you can quickly take linked “notes” about almost anything in almost any app (e.g., Bear app, nvALT, BBEdit, etc.) Once the note is created, you can instantly navigate back and forth between the note and its source.

When we say “notes”, we actually mean any file or (almost) any object (e.g., an OmniFocus or Things task). Hook can create and link any kind of file — it could be a diagram (e.g., OmniGraffle, Sketch, or Adobe Illustrator), a concept map (e.g., iThoughts X, MindNode or Curio), an outline (eg. OmniOutliner), a todo list, (e.g., TaskPaper), a rich text file (e.g., TextEdit), a plain text file/ markdown file (e.g., BBEdit).

With Hook, you may find yourself creating many linked files — getting much more out of everything you read, learn and do.

Hook does not constrain where you create or move those files. You can move Hook-linked files around on a volume; Hook links will remain valid.

EagleFiler libraries are some of the greatest places to store Hook generated files.

EagleFiler as a repository for your notes

It’s super easy to configure Hook to ensure that files you create with Hook’s Link to New command will be stored in an EagleFiler library. In the Notes tab of Hook’s Preferences window, just set the default folder in which to create new files to be either

a. a folder that is scanned (watched) by EagleFiler. See EagleFiler Manual: Scan for New Files. Or,
b. an EagleFiler Library folder.

Thereafter, files created via Link to New will automatically be stored in the selected EagleFiler library.

You can work with those files as you would any other EagleFiler content.

As you would expect, you can also move files you previously created into an EagleFiler library, and Hook links will remain valid. Hence the next section.

Using EagleFiler to archive notes previously created with Hook

If you’ve been using Hook for a while, then you might already have hundreds of notes created with its Link to New function.

Keep in mind that EagleFiler’s import function does not move files into EagleFiler, it makes a copy of them in an EagleFiler library. So if you import a file that has Hook links, those Hook links will not show up in the copy of the file. That’s because Hook links are not contained inside a file, they point to the entire file.

If you want to bring the links with you, rather than importing the files, you can drag and drop them directly into the Finder folder that stores the desired EagleFiler library. Or you can put the file in EagleFiler’s scanned folders (see EagleFiler Manual: Scan for New Files). Those two operations do not copy the files, they simply move them. So links follow.

But if you really do want to import rather than move a file into EagleFiler, you can still apply its links to the imported copy:

  1. invoke Hook on the original file and using the handy Copy All Links function;
  2. then on the imported file, invoke Hook and use the Link to Copied Addresses command. (Hook automatically pluralizes “Link to Copied Address” when there are multiple addresses in the clipboard.

Finding your Hook-created notes in EagleFiler

It’s quite easy to find your Hook-created notes in EagleFiler.

You can create an EagleFiler library specifically for your your Hook-created notes.

Or if you have chosen to automatically tag Hook-linked files with “Hook”, then you can setup a smart folder in EagleFiler to look for items tagged with “Hook”.

Editing Hook-linked content in EagleFiler

EagleFiler has its own editor:

RTF, text, OpenDocument, and bookmark files can be edited from within EagleFiler. Powerful text editing features include find & replace, spelling and grammar checking, smart links/quotes/dashes, data detectors, automatic text replacement, and case transformations.

You can use EagleFiler to quickly scan and edit notes that meet your search criteria.

Invoke Hook on EagleFiler selections

You can select files in EagleFiler and invoke the Hook window on them. From there, you have access to all Hook commands just as you would from any file, in any context. Any Hook-links you created to the file in any context will also be presented to you when you invoke Hook on the file in EagleFiler.

When you use Hook’s Copy Link or Copy Markdown Link command in EagleFiler, Hook returns a hook://file link.

Having linked a file in EagleFiler, when you open the file in a third-party app (e.g., you might read the PDF in Skim, PDFPenPro or Preview), you will see the links you forged — and vice versa.

Linking files in EagleFiler with Hook’s menu bar icon

You may already know that you can link items together by dragging and dropping them onto the menu bar icon. For example, you can drag a dozen files from the Finder onto the menu bar icon and Hook will link them all together.

Because EagleFiler is well designed, you can link EagleFiler files by dragging and dropping them onto Hook’s menu bar icon. just as you would if you were working in the Finder. For example, you can select several files in EagleFiler, and drag & drop them onto the menu bar icon and they all be linked together. Or you can drop an email message (say from MailMate or Apple Mail) onto the menu bar icon and then drop a bunch of files from EagleFiler onto the menu bar icon, and Hook will link the email message to all those files.

Whether you access a Hook-linked item from EagleFiler, the Finder, or an app (like Preview or PDFPenPro), Hook will show you the links from that file.

See Menu Bar Window –in Hook’s online documentation.

Using EagleFiler’s native addresses (URLs)

If you are a Hook Pro user and would prefer the Copy Link and Copy Markdown Link to return addresses that use the x-eaglefiler:// URL scheme, then please consult this web page for instructions.

The value of information and its management

There’s an old saying “You are what you eat”. Thinking people know, “You are the information you process”.

As I have argued in my Cognitive Productivity books, of all the information that exists in the world, the information you have previously processed is of greatest value to you. To put it differently, a random web page on the Internet is of infinitely small value compared to a document you have read. The more mindful you are in selecting and processing information, the greater the information’s value. (Each of the two Cognitive Productivity books has a chapter on evaluating information, with tips for assessing information to process further.)

Practical implications

Using information tools, like EagleFiler and Hook, can make you a better, smarter person.

If you’re a manager or team lead, you may wish to consider giving your employees/ team members access to these tools.

Similarly, if you’re a parent of a promising senior high student or university student, you might want to give them access to EagleFiler and Hook.

If you’re a university teacher, you might want to mention to your students that using a Mac, EagleFiler and Hook can boost their cognitive productivity.

Learn more

Luc Beaudoin

Luc P. Beaudoin Co-founder, CogSci Apps Corp. My Cognitive Productivity books.

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