My Mac is useless without Alfred. That’s no joke. I try to use my wife’s profile once in a while. It’s painful for me and hilarious for her to watch. I keep hitting the Alfred shortcuts and staring at it like it’s broken.
I didn’t get this dependent overnight. I started using Alfred a few years ago and have slowly built up the number of use cases I have for it. So if you’re just starting out, don’t feel like you need to adopt a whole bunch of things at once. Find one or two that you know you’ll use and build from there. Here are some of the ways I use Alfred.
I mentioned this in a previous article, but it bears repeating because it’s so important. I rarely use Mission Control on the Mac. I’d rather jump straight to an app without hunting down the window that looks like the one I want. I set up workflows (Powerpack feature) that allow me to hit a keyboard shortcut and show/hide the app I want. This pulls up the app I want without a misfire.
I copy text and links all the time, and sometimes I need to copy/paste multiple portions of text at once. Take my weekly newsletter for example. It has the title, excerpt, and link for each post that was published that week. I could flip back and forth nine times and get everything copied over, but that’s ridiculous. Instead I pull up each post, copy all the pieces I need, and use the clipboard history in Alfred to paste each piece without flipping between apps.
I use Google Apps for my email and haven’t found a need for a local client because the web client works so well. This means checking my email requires entering the url for Gmail, and because I run a few different accounts I need to be able to pinpoint the exact email address. Using TextExpander, I set up a snippet that expands to the url for the account I want and presses Enter. Invoking Alfred and entering my snippet abbreviation sends me directly to my email. Though sometimes I wonder if I’ve made this too easy.
This is a pretty standard way to use a launcher like Alfred. And if you’re just getting started with one, it’s a good place to start. If I need to open a file, I rarely go to Finder. I almost always start typing into Alfred.
Because I develop for the web, I use the Font Awesome library of icons a lot. It’s a part of nearly every website I’ve worked with. So when I ran across a workflow for searching and pasting in the classes for every icon, I installed it immediately.
I find myself looking for synonyms and definitions quite a bit, and Alfred makes it really easy on me. It has a built-in mechanism for searching the dictionary for a word and offering synonyms. I did change the keyword needed to search the dictionary from define to def, just to make it a bit quicker.
Because I keep so many idea lists, I wanted a quick way to pull them up. So I created a workflow in Alfred that uses the keyword ofsm. It opens a link (copied from OmniFocus) to my folder of Someday/Maybe lists.