It's that time of year; Meeting new fellow students, cracking open the first page of a new notebook, heading to class and getting ready for the school year ahead. Or maybe I graduated too long ago and forgotten that, in reality, it's more along the lines of grabbing a large coffee to stay awake through class and hoping that the new professor isn't too weird.
Whichever way you plan to start your school year, Alfred can help you get things done better and faster with web searches, custom searches and extensions.
Default web searches
Alfred comes packed with useful default searches to help you be more productive. Start your search with the keyword "wiki" to search Wikipedia - but remember to check your sources!
DuckDuckGo is a super useful tool that lets you search a vast number of search engines with the !bang shortcuts. Start with the keyword "duck" and see just how flexible it is. If you're using the Powerpack, you can set DuckDuckGo as your default fallback search, so that you can use the !bang shortcuts without the "duck" prefix - even better!
Need to translate text? Type "translate" and paste the text or URL of the page you want to translate. Hit return and Google Translate will work its magic.
Custom searches give you the ability to add searches for anything you might need frequent search access to. For example, search your Delicious bookmarks library (replace our username with your own) or search Pinboard for your own bookmarks.
Creating these is very quick yet can save you a lot of time, so have a look at our help page on creating your own custom searches for internal wikis, study resources or almost any site. Check out the fan-run Alfred Tips site for many of the favourite custom searches out there.
If you really want to kick it up a notch, the Powerpack allows you to use extensions, along with many other great useful features like Clipboard History and 1Password integration.
While writing essays, use Dave Ferguson's Word Counter to track your progress.
Sweating bullets before your first class presentation? Can't help you there, but you can use Seb Clarke's Caffeine Manager to switch on Caffeine.app with a keyword to make sure your laptop doesn't go to sleep mid-presentation, leaving you to concentrate on keeping your classmates awake!
The school year, of course, isn't all work and no play. Sneak a bit of fun into the classroom with Kailey Lampert's Hangman extension. Start by typing "hangman new", then see how good your vocabulary and guessing skills are! [Kailey and Alfred take no responsibility for time having disappeared when you next look at the clock!]
Need to get something ordered? Use the "amazon" keyword followed by your search term for quick access to your local Amazon online store.
If you're like me and can't study without music, you've got plenty of options. The iTunes Mini Player, part of the Powerpack, gives you keyboard-based access to your iTunes collection. If you prefer Spotify or Rdio, some Alfred users have created some brilliant extensions for each one of them, which you can find in the Music page of the Extensions gallery.
Whatever you may be studying and whether you're starting or finishing this year, may it be a great year! Learn everything you can, meet everyone you can and enjoy yourself. Oh and leave a comment to share your own custom searches, extensions or favourite ways to start the school year :)
[Image credit: Kate Ter Haar on Flickr]