9 Alfred Features You Might Not Know Exist Yet

Lately, I’ve seen a few tweets from Alfred users who discovered a feature they hadn’t tried before, and immediately found their discovery life-changing. We always get a kick out of your friendly tweets, the best of which we add to our favourites.

Whether you’re new to Alfred or have been a power user for years, take a look at the great tips from recent tweets. A number of these features are available in the core version of Alfred, available for free, and Powerpack-only features are denoted with [P].

Weather web search

It’s unavoidable, the whole northern hemisphere is hurtling towards winter. Find your local weather by typing “weather” followed by your location and see whether you should dig out your hat and mittens or reach for the shorts and sandals one last time. (hey, let me dream a little!)

File Buffer [P]

A lesser known feature, the File Buffer allows you to stack up files before taking action on all of them at once. Especially handy to move multiple files to Dropbox in a single action, for example.

It’s never too late to learn how to use the File Buffer!

Alfred’s built-in Calculator

Simple, yet effective.

Quicklook

Quick way to check you’ve found the right file. Particularly useful when looking at obscurely named screenshots!

Force Quit keyword

System Commands are a brilliantly handy way to control your Mac.

Clipboard History & Merging [P]

Even if you’re aware of Clipboard History, it bears repeating.

But you might not yet have discovered clipboard merging, a handy way to append a copied item to the previous one.

1Password bookmarks integration [P]

Terminal commands [P]

Put your sunglasses on and you’ll feel like you’re in a scene out of Hackers.

Large Type

And finally, this is truly technology at work.

Use Cmd + L to show text in large type on your screen, whether it’s a contact’s phone number, the result of a calculation or asking your other half whether they want pizza for dinner.

I can’t help but finish this post by giving a huge shout out to all the lovely +38,400 people who follow us on Twitter and make us smile every day, as well as to WordPress.com for making it so simple to include your tweets in this post. Any tips of your own you’d like to add?

5 Tips To Make Workflows Work Harder For You

Workflows are a great way to extend Alfred in ways that fit your particular needs and the frequent tasks in your personal routine. In this post, I’ve gathered a few valuable tips on organising and managing your growing collection of workflows.

Sync your workflows

NsntJZzYPbAY4hb-v2mPIxYuSjcFKtg0rpCJgw5vIsoIf you have a Mac at home and that you’re lucky to have an enlightened boss, you might have a Mac at the office too. If you use Alfred on both, you can sync your Alfred settings – including your workflows – between your two Macs using Dropbox. Create a new workflow at work (or a theme, custom search or snippet) and it’ll be automatically synchronised with your Mac at home.

Jump to the Advanced tab in Alfred’s preferences to set synching up, or take a look at the tutorial on syncing using Dropbox for a walkthrough on syncing your settings.

Categorise and filter your workflows

As your collection of workflows grows, you can organise them into categories. There are a few default categories to get you started, but you can add your own so that you can quickly locate all your music-related workflows, for example.

Once you’ve assigned your workflows to categories, you can filter to show a single category by clicking on the magnifying glass at the top of your list of workflows.

Find out more about creating workflow categories and filtering on our support site.

Show which hotkeys are in use

If you’re a hotkey fiend but your memory sometimes fails you, you can see at a glance all of your workflow hotkeys in the workflows list. You can toggle this view by clicking on the magnifying glass and checking the “Show hotkeys” box under Display Options.

sidebar_categories

As well as showing the hotkeys, there are other Display Options; Show categories, show workflow creator’s name and only show enabled workflows.

Group actions into a single workflow

A handy way of keeping track of similar actions, such as hotkeys used to launch applications, is to add them to a single workflow instead of creating a new workflow for individual hotkeys.

For example, below is the workflow I use for launching applications like browsers and tools I need frequently. To add these hotkeys, you simply need a “Hotkey” trigger connected to a “Launch Apps / Files” action.

multiple_hotkeys

You could do the same for a collection of file filter workflows or any other actions you’ve grouped together, making it quicker and easier to locate them.

Look out for workflows created by other users

As well as creating your own workflows, it’s worth taking a look at the wonderful range of workflows created by fellow Alfred users.

You’ll find some here on the blog, on the Alfred forum and on the wonderful Packal (created and maintained by Shawn Rice). Many developers host their workflows on their own websites so it’s also worth a quick Google search and a look at Github. It’s likely that if you’ve thought about it, someone has created a workflow for it! :)

Tutorial: Using the same keyword for multiple actions

Today’s tutorial takes a look at how you can create a workflow using the same keyword for multiple actions.

Generally, it’s preferable to have unique keywords, so that you can type it, hit the Return key and launch the workflow. However, when you have a set of similar actions to perform that you don’t use everyday, it can be a useful way to group them together. Remembering numerous rarely-used keywords can be inconvenient when you have a memory like a sieve!

For example, I use Safari as default browser, but need to view sites that requires Flash in Chrome, so I first set up a workflow that launches the Fitbit website in Chrome. I then added two more actions to launch different pages to log activities and sleep when I’ve forgotten to wear my wristband. (What did I say about being forgetful?)

As you can see, the keyword brings up four items; Three workflow entries and the Fitbit Connect app. The most frequently used result (the website) appears at the top of the list, but the other actions are also conveniently available for occasional use.

fitbit_workflow

To set up this workflow, I simply connected each action to a separate, but identical keyword. If I had connected the three “Open URL” objects to a single keyword, Alfred would have presented me with a single results, and all three pages would have launched at the same time when I hit Return (which can also be useful, but wasn’t the objective here).

fitbit_workflow_setup

In this case, all keywords except for the Fitbit Connect application are part of the workflow, but you could also use the keyword for a custom search if the website had a searchable documentation section.

Enjoyed this short tutorial? You’ll find many more in the Tutorials section of the blog.

Tutorial: Setting Up Your Own Fallback Searches

There’s something almost magical about Alfred learning to predict the result you want most when you type a few characters; It’s the perfect and easy way to search for apps, folders, contacts and other results that live on your Mac.

However, sometimes, you need to do a quick web search. The usual way to do this would be to type “wiki” followed by your search term to launch the relevant Wikipedia page, or type “youtube” to search YouTube. But there IS an even quicker way to search your most-used sites: Fallback searches. They’re the list of search options you see when you search for a keyword that doesn’t match a result on your local Mac.

The default fallback searches are Google, Wikipedia and Amazon, as these are the most commonly used web searches. If you’re a Powerpack user, you can customise these to your favourite sites or actions instead.

Here are my fallback searches; Wikipedia, the OS X dictionary, YouTube, Amazon and Etsy. (and yes, I’m searching for beer)

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 14.41.07

You can change your fallback searches in Alfred’s preferences under Features > Default Results, where you’ll see a “Fallback Results” button. Use the + button to add web searches, custom searches and workflow triggers. You can then drag and drop them to reorder them.

fallbacksearch prefs

My fallbacks are a mix of default web searches (Wikipedia, YouTube and Amazon), custom searches (Etsy) and workflow triggers (Dictionary search).

Create custom searches for your favourite websites that aren’t part of Alfred’s default web searches, or create fallback triggers in workflows for actions like “Show definition for {query}”.

Once you’ve arranged these in the order you want, your fallback searches will appear anytime you type a keyword where Alfred doesn’t find a local search result! :)

Enjoyed this post? Take a look at the tutorials for more tips and tricks on making the most of Alfred.

10 Great Uses for Alfred’s Hotkeys

One of the best tools in the productive Mac user’s bag of tricks is undoubtedly hotkeys. We can all remember that first lightbulb moment where learning the basic shortcuts in OS X gave us that instant productivity boost!

With Alfred, you can kick this keyboard control into high gear. In this post, I’ve gathered ten of my favourite uses for hotkeys, so take a look at how you can improve your workday by adopting these tricks and creating a few handy hotkeys of your own.

In order to use some of the features below, you’ll need the Powerpack.

1. Launch applications, files or websites

Start your day with focus by using a hotkey to launch the websites, applications and files you need. For example, this workflow launches Mail and Safari, the Alfred forum and my to-do list text file, which makes it easy to kickstart my day while having my first coffee of the morning.

You can connect hotkeys to almost anything in a workflow, so there’s no need to pop up Alfred and type a keyword.

morning links workflow

2. Use the Cmd, Ctrl & Alt modifier keys with Return

When using Alfred’s search box, pressing return will open the application, file or website you’ve selected. Using modifier keys, your return key can do more. Press the modifier keys and you’ll see your results’ subtext change to an alternative action.

modifierkeys

You can change what each modifier key does in the Advanced preferences tab.

3. Launch Alfred with a File Filter

Let’s say you frequently search for PDF documents on your Mac. You can drastically speed up your search by using a hotkey to jump straight to a file filter workflow; No need to launch Alfred and type the keyword for your PDF search workflow.

Press your assigned hotkey to pop up the search box with the file filter already active. Your filter is identified by its icon on the left of the search box.

pdffilter

Download my PDF File Filter Workflow to see how simply you can create your own filters.

4. Large Type

Press Cmd + L to show any text in Alfred in large font across your screen. Handy for seeing phone numbers from across the room (or to share silly messages with everyone behind you in class!)

largetype

5. Paste as plain text

Paste text from the clipboard as plain text without showing the Clipboard Viewer with this handy little workflow.

6. File selection

Found a file in Finder you need to take action on? Select the file and pop up Alfred’s File Action panel with the Cmd + Alt + \ hotkey.

You can even create your own actions and add them to this panel with a “File Action” workflow object for tasks you repeat often.

fileaction

7. Speeding up hotkeys in workflows

This isn’t a hotkey as such, but a way to make your existing workflow hotkeys perform their task even quicker.

To ensure that hotkeys always work smoothly on your Mac, Alfred waits a few milliseconds before letting the modifier keys (alt, cmd, ctrl) go before performing the action associated to your hotkey combination. If you want to speed this up, you can change the trigger behaviour to pass the modifier keys through and give you faster hotkeys.

Right-click on the hotkey field in your workflow object to show the hidden menu below.

hotkeys-settings-fastest

8. Get to the Preferences quickly

Like most OS X applications, Alfred uses the standard Cmd + , (Cmd + comma) to open its preferences, so you can quickly put into action the new things you’ve learned here.

9. Contextual hotkeys

When setting a hotkey in your workflow, you can specify when you want the hotkey to be active by including or excluding applications. Just drag the related apps in!

contextualhotkeys_fade

10. File Buffer

If you need to take action on multiple files at once, the File Buffer is the best way to stack up the files you need before performing an action on all of them.

Use Alt + Up arrow to add a file to the buffer from Alfred’s results and Alt + Right arrow to take action on all of them. For the full set of File Buffer shortcuts, go to the File Search > Buffer preferences or have a look at the File Buffer support page.

Fancy discovering more great productivity features? Have a look at our Tutorials section for tips, tricks and workflows you’ll love.

An OS X Yosemite Theme for Alfred

With Apple’s exciting announcement of OS X Yosemite due in autumn, bringing some lovely visual improvements to your Mac, we thought we would create a beautiful new Yosemite-inspired theme for Alfred for you to download.

Yosemite

How to get the look

Install the Yosemite theme for Alfred v2 (You’ll need the Powerpack for custom themes).

Simply click on the link above and the Alfred preferences will pop up to the theme tab. Click the “import” button and you’ll be up and running with the new theme.

You can fine tune the theme in the Appearance preferences, go to the theme Options tab and tweak your visual settings to hide the Alfred hat and the preferences cog. The result subtext is also hidden in the screenshot above, which makes Alfred nice and clean looking.

A fuzzy touch

Want the slick blur effect from the screenshot above? In Alfred 2.4, duplicate the Yosemite theme and customise it by turning down the opacity of the background. Then go to the Appearance Options and turn up the window blur to match the OS X Yosemite look.

Customising the theme

This theme was created using Alfred’s theme editor in the preferences, so don’t forget that once you’ve imported the theme, you can tweak it as you like. Whether you prefer a different colour, rounder corners or a larger look, you can make the theme your own.

In the theme preferences, here’s how you can change the theme:

  • Hold the Cmd key and hover over the various text and window areas to increase their size if you’d like a larger theme. Alternatively, hover over the corners to change the roundness.
  • Hold the Alt key to change fonts or Ctrl to change all theme fonts to the one you’re hovering over.
  • Click anywhere on the theme to change the colour of text, backgrounds or separator lines.

Feeling inspired? You can find numerous themes and share your own on Packal, a user-created Alfred workflows and themes site by Shawn Rice, as well as in the Alfred forum’s themes section.

Tutorial: Clipboard History and Snippets in a Snap

Everyone has an Alfred feature they couldn’t be productive without. For me, it’s Clipboard History.

Clipboard History is a Powerpack feature that has saved me hours of searching for links I’d copied or re-typing text. More than once, it also saved my bacon when my browser or text editor crashed, taking down with it all of my unsaved writing. Thankfully, anything I’d previously saved in Alfred’s clipboard was readily available for me to paste in again.

If you’re not already familiar with Alfred’s clipboard, this tutorial post covers setting up and customising your Clipboard History settings, as well as creating Snippets for your most frequently used bits of text. Even if you think you’re familiar with this feature, you might discover new and useful tips.

Using Clipboard History

One Alfred user called the Clipboard History “the best feature he never knew he needed”; It gives your OS X clipboard a memory so that you can dig through the links, addresses and other useful bits of text you’ve copied recently, making them easier to find and use again.

clipboardviewer

By default, the Clipboard feature is disabled for privacy reasons. To enable it, go to Alfred’s Preferences under Features > Clipboard > History, and check the box next to “Persist for”. You can then choose from the dropdown how long you’d like Alfred to remember your clips for.

You can then show the Clipboard Viewer with a hotkey (Cmd + Alt + V by default) or by using the keyword “clipboard” in Alfred’s search box.

clipboardsearch

The Clipboard Viewer contains the text snippets you’ve copied; You can search by scrolling through the latest 50 clips or by typing a part of your clipped text to narrow down your search to see the relevant clips.

As Alfred strips the formatting from the copied text, you can paste to the currently focused app by selecting the item you want in Alfred’s Clipboard Viewer and hitting the return key without worrying about rogue formatting being pasted in. You can also copy the text back to your current clipboard with Cmd + C.

In the Clipboard preferences, you can choose which applications Alfred should ignore. By default, Keychain Acccess, SecurityAgent, 1Password and Wallet are ignored to ensure that no passwords are saved to your history. You can add to this list if you use a different password manager or want any other applications to be ignored.

Using Snippets

If you often use the same clipboard entries or find you’re typing out the same information frequently (e.g. your address or a particular URL), you can save these bits of text to Snippets.

clipboard snippets

You can create these in Alfred’s preferences, under Features > Clipboard > Snippets. Press the + button (or Cmd + N) to create a new snippet, or double-click an existing one to edit it. Give your Snippet a name and a keyword, then type or paste in the snippet text.

snippet

You can use placeholders within your snippets, so that dynamic content is entered. In the example above, {clipboard} would be replaced with the text in my clipboard.

The Date and Time placeholders use your OS X defaults. You can change these in your Mac’s System Preferences > Language & Region > Advanced in Mavericks (or in Language & Text > Region settings in OS X 10.8):

  • Date: {date}, {date:short}, {date:medium}, {date:long}, {date:full}
  • Time: {time}, {time:short}, {time:medium}, {time:long}, {time:full}

The Clipboard placeholders allow you to quickly format the text while pasting it by uppercasing, lowercasing or capitalising the contents of your clipboard. Using {clipboard} by itself simply pastes the text as plain text.

  • Clipboard: {clipboard}, {clipboard:uppercase}, {clipboard:lowercase}, {clipboard:capitals}

Advanced functionality

Once you’ve set up your Clipboard and Snippets, there are a few additional handy settings you can use.

Advanced users may want to turn on Clipboard Merging, which allows you to append the latest copied clipboard entry to the previously copied text by holding Cmd and double-tapping the C key. You’ll need to switch this on in the Merging preferences.

Your snippets can also be synchronised if you have more than one Mac; Simply go to Alfred’s Advanced Preferences to set up your Dropbox sync folder, and your snippets and many more settings will be synced between your Macs. You can also follow our detailed tutorial on syncing your settings.

You can find more Alfred tutorials here on the blog and on our support site. The forum is also filled with great tips, workflows and custom themes from fellow Alfred users.