It’s all over the Internet: Alfred 2 is out, and you can do awesome stuff with it. The short version is that you can use Alfred for free, but you’re somewhat limited. You can’t use workflows, mainly. Custom, precious and powerful workflows. For those you have to buy the Powerpack. I think it’s worth it.
I lost a few days getting into Alfred, discovering core functions and workflows, and now it boosts my productivity to a degree I never dreamed of. It really feels like an intermediary between me and my laptop has been removed. It feels like discovering the one shortcut you never knew existed again and again. Like when you finally remove this annoying little piece of popcorn that’s been stuck between your teeth.
As a German law student, for example, I regularly browse dejure.org to look up provisions. With Alfred’s custom web searches, I now hit the Alfred shortcut, type in ‘433 bgb’, hit return and Safari shows me the provision for a contract of purchase. Saves about 3.5 seconds for every lookup. Sum that up over the time of my studies, and I’m a considerably younger graduate.
The iTunes controls (Mini Player, they call it), the system controls (shut down, empty trash), the 1Password integration, custom web searches (if you don’t want to do your own workflows), clipboard management: the list is long.
If you want to hide the OS X Spotlight icon in the menubar, since Alfred of course does everything Spotlight does, you might find Broomstick useful.
But, of course, the workflows.
Alfredworkflow.com is a good place to look if you just want to get started with a few simple workflows, or just browse to see what they’re like. The Alfred Forum also has a corner for workflows. Here are a few more suggestions from the Alfred folks themselves. Florian Pellet has quite a few workflows he’s working on. Simon as well.
You can tweak workflows however you like regarding modifier keys, exchanging shortcuts for keywords and the other way around etc., or even alter the scripts contained in them. It doesn’t get more personalised and individual than this.
I figured out a bit more about Alfred, but didn’t want to spread it out into another post, so here we go:
The Mac Power Users Episode on Alfred made me aware of a few core functionalities I had missed. Like the actions menu Once Alfred recognises an app, you can go to the actions menu via the right arrow key, and with another stroke, you’re in its recent documents, for example.
If it’s a folder or a file, the actions menu lets you do other stuff. Here the buffer comes in, which lets you perform actions on multiple files. Going through a few documents you want to send via email is way more efficient all of a sudden. Powerful stuff.
From the shownotes of that episode, I highly recommend Tim Stringer’s Screencast. It made me realise how easy it is to make workflows for really rudimental stuff, and how much sense it makes.
At first I thought I didn’t need a shortcut to launch Safari, cause it’s running all the time anyway. But the shortcuts also unhide apps (and hides them if you check the right box), and that is quite handy. Hotkeys for folders, and searches from selection are also quite nifty. Tim takes his time in the Screencast, but it’s really worth it.
I discovered two more ‘top notch’ workflows
I updated the above mentioned URL to Safari Tab Workflow from a crappy script to built-in functions, so that it actually only works with URLs.
Finally, my global ‘New Byword Document’ workflow is in ‘shareable’ shape. It should work in every situation, with Byword running or not. Also shouldn’t be too hard to edit it to fit the texteditor of your choice.