Alfred – MacOS on steroids!

I’m a Mac user since 2010 now and fell in love with Spotlight at first sight. I’m coming from a Windows background and didn’t knew any tools like this for windows. Spotlight allows to quickly search applications, definitions, files, documents, do a web search, browse contacts and many more.

You can do all these great things without leaving your keyboard with just pressing CMD+SPACE – something every developer loves. Now this is where Alfred (https://www.alfredapp.com/) kicks in.

Alfred is a Spotlight replacement and enhances common Spotlight with many awesome features. It increases productivity on a very high level and makes repeating tasks much easier to interact with just by your keyboard. You don’t even need to raise your hands using the trackpad as Alfred as far as I know is only controlled by your keyboard. Developers and shortcut lovers gonna love Alfred as your personal butler.

Alfred is free of charge without using powerpack but I highly recommend buying it. In my opinion it’s very cheap comparing it to your increased productivity.

www.alfredapp.com/powerpack

Alfreds features are amazing. Some examples.

Clipboard

With Alfred you gain access to a clipboard history – no more pain with lost information as the general clipboard only supports one value. With Alfred you get access to your previous clipboard values – you can even filter for them. In the settings you have to initial activate the history, also you can set how long the values should persist. Alfred also added a clipboard history for images and file lists – haven’t tried these yet.

By far this is the most important feature Alfred offers for me. If you used it once you never ever want to have a single clipboard value only.

Snippets

Snippets can be added in the preferences. When snippets has been added you can access them like your clipboard values and can paste them anywhere you can paste text.

With snippets you’re able to store shell commands you can’t remember – who doesn’t forgot some commands, text presets for dummy text or generic reply texts.

It’s also possible to replace some placeholders in the snippet with the last n clipboard values.

App Integration

Alfred is great at controlling applications only by your keyboard. For example you’re able to connect Alfred with 1Password and login to specific pages anywhere on your mac by opening alfred.

You’re also able to trigger system commands like sleep, screensaver, lock, eject volumes, clear trash, reboot or shutdown. Math calculations can also be done in Alfreds input field. Finderwindow usage will also reduce if you’re willing to use Alfred for it. File navigation can be triggered by pressing CMD+ALT+/. Alfred will show a file tree you can navigate and by pressing CMD+↵ you can open that folder in a new Finder window. If you want to open a file directly just press space when Alfred has been toggled and type the file name you want to open and press enter on the current result.

With Alfred I also reduced pressing CMD+TAB (application switching) because it’s faster and easier for me toggling Alfred and type the app I want to open. Alfred will open the latest window from that application.

Workflows

Workflows are a key feature and offer complete applications within Alfred. Alfred offers a great interface to create powerful workflows that are just controlled by your keyboard.

Some workflows I often use are a date time format converter, pasting lorem ipsum dummy text, generating passwords, controlling vagrant. A workflow I highly recommend is a translation workflow which uses leo.org for translations. Simply type the languages you want to translate (de for deutsch – englisch) and the word you want to translate. This workflow will distinguish if your input is a german or an english word and will list the common translations for the input you provided. A really powerful workflow!

I also made a custom workflow for daily use. Typing a ticket number for RedMine (ticket system) opens a chrome tab with the desired ticket. This is an really easy workflow but there are so much possibilities. It’s such a simple workflow but saves me a lot of time and clicking and typing.

There a very many workflows out there – most of them has peen posted in the Alfred forums or on packal.org – an Alfred workflow repository.

If you’re using a Mac I highly recommend giving Alfred a try – I never regret.