Hazel rule to delete ResearchGate pdf cover pages

I download a load of academic papers in as PDFs from ResearchGate, since that's often the only place a free version of a paper is available.  Unfortunately, ResearchGate prepend downloaded PDFs with a branded cover page, which I obviously don't want.

On MacOS, it's easy enough to manually delete pages from a PDF using Preview.  But with a bit of help from Hazel, it's possible to automate it. 

Hazel is a super-useful automation tool for MacOS.  It doesn't work with PDFs natively, but it does allow shell scripting, and luckily there's a free command-line tool for manipulating PDFs in the form of PDFtk Server [mirror of MacOS 10.11+ compatible version].

In Hazel, I made a rule for the Downloads folder, which looks for PDFs containing text from the ResearchGate cover page:

See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net

When this happens, it runs a shell script which uses PDFtk to remove the first page:

To explain what this script does:

  1. path="$1"  stores the path to the matched file in a variable named  $path .
  2. name=$(basename "$path" ".pdf")  strips out the directory name and extension, leaving the file name in $name .
  3. new_name="$name no cover page.pdf"  makes a new filename, since PDFtk doesn't allow you to re-save over the same file (this took me ages to figure out!).
  4. dir=$(dirname "$path") extracts the directory component of the matched file (this is just the Downloads folder).
  5. pdftk "$1" cat 2-end output "$dir/$new_name" : pdftk  takes the matched filename ( "$1" ) and runs the cat  (concatenate) command, which takes all but the first page ( 2-end ) and outputs it to the new file  "$dir/$new_name".

Finally, the Hazel rule moves the old file to the Trash.

I hope that helps someone!


Edit 2017-08-05: Protip: you can do the same for Jstor by duplicating the rule and searching for the phrase:

For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

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