Time sensitive material

Looking for some ideas/hints:

One of my databases contains files (mostly PDFs) that I want to keep for just a certain number of months and then delete, since they are no longer of value after that. Also, for some of these files, I want to be reminded (or get them using some kind of search) at some point in the future, perhaps x number of days/weeks/months.

My goal is to throw data files into the database and aside from finding them using the folder structure or tags, have a way of having them pop up at some point in the future as a reminder that I need to review or deal with them and at another point that they are outdated and can be deleted. Without this, I’d have a database that keeps growing like the trinkets in an attic and forget that I have items that I really need to remember at some point in time.

I’ve thought of using tags or keywords to help search for files that need review, trying to associate them with iCal in some way, and other methods but haven’t found a neat way to accomplish these things.

Anyone have some ideas to suggest? Thanks.

This is definitely doable. Though it would take some applescripting, here is outline one way to go about it:

  1. Select one or more files and run the script in DevonThink
  2. have it ask you via “display dialog” whether you want these files to be scheduled for deletion or reminder (or to be safe, use separate scripts for each)
  3. have it get you to enter in a date - (ideally the script would check to make sure the date is valid)
  4. have the script create an event in iCal on a special calendar you can leave the visibility off for so all these events don’t distract your regular calendar use.
    -Have the script save the uuid of the files to be deleted or reminded in the “Notes” of the event and
    -then attach either a “delete” or “remind” script that:
  5. on the appointed day/time, the alarm goes off and runs the delete or remind script on the event or events listed in the notes for the event, either deleting it or reminding you (sending you an email, or growl event, or other method)

Another way to do it is to have a cron shell script run every fixed time every day that checks a certain special file for a list of dates+uuids to delete or to remind you and see if any of the dates have passed.

Your DevonThink script would merely do as steps 1-3 above but merely add the date+uuid to the file in question.

Other approaches anyone?

Two questions come to mind.

1 - Is everything in this particular database subject to being reviewed/removed?

2 - Does each file need its own schedule, or can they all have the same life span from the time of import (say six months or whatever)?

If you could have these files in indexed folders, rather than residing in the database, you might consider using Hazel to monitor the folder(s) and move files that trigger the date rule(s) into an archive folder, or the trash, when the trigger date is passed. Put the monitored folders into a parent folder which has the auto-synrhonize script attached to it.

Thanks for all your input.

kmlawson -

I may have to dust off my Applescript book; didn’t think of using that.

GrumpyDave -

  1. Not all files are subject to review/delete, but I’m beginning the process of re-organizing my databases with the iPad in mind, so that may change.
  2. Each file will have its own time intervals.

korm -

Can’t say that I want to index folders. There was a time in the past that I did index all relevant folders, but eventually decided to be truly wedded to DTPO and let it manage all files internally. I do use Hazel and never thought of using it for this purpose. Clever!

I may have stumbled upon an idea from reading through other threads (I’ve haven’t been here in a while and have now spent several hours catching up on old posts). Using “copy item link” I can paste the link into a todo in iCal at a future date. Then I am reminded and can deal with the files (review/delete) on those dates. It’s simple and easy to implement.

In case you’re wondering what the basis is for my request, one example is investment information that I gather from many sources and save in pdf format (or text if a simple cut and paste). For example, an article on Acme’s recent purchase of ImInTroubleInc may imply a future price drop. I may want to have a reminder to review that file in two weeks, after the immediate price fluctuations are over and I may want to short the stock. However, in 3 months the article is old news and not worth maintaining (unless I do short and need to keep it handy a bit longer). I’d want to delete it then.

I have other areas of interest, work included, where information becomes dated and I should delete the files. (Example: software user guides that become outdated with newer versions.) For others, the information is not really needed now, and I’d want to be reminded to review the file at some appropriate point in the future.

I’m just trying to keep these databases from continually growing. I need to trim them continually and also be reminded to review data that I may have forgotten I had.

If the idea I have doesn’t work smoothly, then I’ll look at Applescript, but it depends on how individualized each file’s review dates are, and whether I want to enter multiple review/delete dates. Applescript may not be as good for this situation, I think. But I’ll see.

Thanks again for your input.

Have you seen the Reminders folder in the Scripts bar? It has scripts to add a date-based item to iCal or one of four task management programs.

Bingo - thanks, padillac!!