Your Brain at your Fingertips: Using Evernote with Alfred Workflows

Last week, we celebrated Alfred’s 4th birthday by giving away licenses and subscriptions for some of our favourite Macs apps. We’ll be featuring these apps over the coming weeks, as well as sharing the best Alfred workflows to make the most of each one. Today, we’re taking a look at Evernote.

evernoteI’ve always had a brain like a sieve, so I usually write everything down with the assumption that I’ll otherwise forget it. The issue with this system (or lack thereof) is that all of these paper notes, clippings and text files get jumbled up or lost.

The basic idea of Evernote is simple really; Remember everything by putting it into Evernote then forgetting about it. File these ideas into notebooks, tag them, and even find them based on the location you were in when you made the note. Access your account on your Mac, on your phone or on the web. The nifty thing about Evernote is that the more you use it, the more useful it becomes.

Whether it’s a photo of the “10 year warranty” receipt for a frying pan I’ll otherwise lose next week, or a link to a vintage pattern I want to knit, every scribble goes into Evernote for future reference. That Tetris-themed crochet blanket may never happen, but I’ll know where to find my design ideas if it ever does!

Using Evernote with Alfred Workflows

To keep Evernote at your fingertips, Carlos A. Sztoltz has created a fantastic workflow we’ve been using daily alongside Evernote.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the workflow, you can search your Evernote content with the keyword “ens“, which searches all notes fields.

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Need to add a note note? You can do this without leaving Alfred, with the keyword “enn“. The syntax even allows you to include details of which notebook you want the note to be filed in, or what tag to attach to it.

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Find all items by tags with “ens #“.

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There are many more useful keywords, which you can discover by looking at the handy workflow help notes by typing “en?

I’ve barely scratched the surface of what Evernote and this particular workflow can do, so I’d love to hear how you use them.

You’ll need the Powerpack to use workflows; You can purchase a license to get started with workflows like this one, and many more great features.

Interview with Kitt Hodsden: Laziness Is A Virtue

Today, we begin a new series of interviews with Alfred users who have created brilliant workflows or integrated Alfred into their everyday flow in unique ways, inspiring us to become more efficient and clever with our time.

Our first interviewee is Kitt Hodsden, hackerdojo co-founder, previously Engineer at Twitter, and the 47th laziest developer in the world.

Hi Kitt, tell us about yourself!

My name is Kitt Hodsden (@kitt and http://ki.tt/) and I’m the 47th laziest developer in the world. I say lazy in a Larry Wall “Three Great Virtues of a Programmer” sort of way.

I embrace this virtue, give talks about automating and streamlining workflows, and take great delight in finding easier and more efficient ways of completing tasks.

How long ago did you discover Alfred? How did you find out about it?

I’ve been using Alfred since Chris Messina mentioned it back in 2010:

I didn’t upgrade to the Powerpack until early 2012, but there’s no turning back now that I have. I was a Quicksilver user for years before switching to Alfred.

I talk about Alfred in all of my “Automating Your Workflow” talks, and have installed it on every OS X installation I work on, including work, home, and family members’ computers. I’m a big fan.

How Do You Use Alfred For Automation?

“Any process I have done more than three times and may have to do again, becomes an Alfred workflow.”

Some of my workflows require scripts to access remote servers, but even those are triggered by Alfred.

As an example, for the past year, I had been building auxilliary websites for Twitter, including https://blog.twitter.com/ and https://business.twitter.com/. During development, we would reset our development servers with production data frequently, as most Drupal developers do. My reset was five keystrokes with Alfred: ⌘ space r d enter. A notice would pop up 20 seconds later and I’d be on my way. For my coworkers, that process involved dumping the production database, importing that database locally, reseting the web server, clearing any caches, a few other steps, then loading or reloading the site in the browser. I was much faster, and less reluctant to reset my development server as a result.

I have many of the of-course-I-use-Alfred-this-way uses also: application launcher, 1password for my site passwords, clipboard history, and keep adding to them by watching the workflow forum. Being a Drupal developer, I also use Alfred to control drush, the Drupal shell, commands as needed.

What Are Some Other Tools That Make Your Life Easier And More Productive, Whether Digital Or Physical Things Or Habits?

My timer is by far my most useful tool. I frequently set my timer for 27 minutes, and sprint to complete whatever task I have set for that timespan. When the alarm goes off, I jot down where I was in my task, do some exercise such as 40 jumping jacks or 20 pushups, reset the timer and go again. I find the short time and the brief spurts of exercise keep me focused.

I’m currently using Timebar from my friend Mark Christian for timing because I like the subtle visual countdown it provides. My physical timer and phone both get a lot of use, too. I’ll be giving Daniel Bader’s Timer a try too.

I use Grunt a fair bit for automating a number of front end web work tasks. I’ve recently started playing with Andrew Cantino’s Huginn, an open-source IFTTT. We’ll see how far I can automate my work with that one.

I also find that watching how other people work exposes me to new tricks and tools. Partner programming is a great way to learn a new shortcut, workflow or script that a coworker else uses to ease development. Unsurprisingly, all the people I partner-program with have Alfred installed. *grin*


Don’t miss future interviews and tutorials on the blog: Subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter to keep in touch! :)

A Look At More Brilliant Workflows

Since the v2 release, we’ve updated our blog to a simpler, cleaner look. We are also planning on making much better use of it with interviews, feature guides and much more over the coming months – so keep an eye on it for fun Alfred features. :)

Over the past few months, the Alfred community (that’s you!) have created some truly brilliant workflows. We’ve highlighted a few of our favourites before, but here are some more gems we’ve dug up for you.

Workflows are a Powerpack feature, so if you’re not yet a Powerpack user, you can either upgrade your v1 license or buy a new license.

Weather

David Ferguson (jdfwarrior) has been working tirelessly to help users with their own workflows on the forum, but has also created a great Weather workflow which shows you conditions and forecast.

If you’re wondering if it’s BBQ and ice cream weather, check out the Weather workflow.

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Spotify Workflows

If you listen to Spotify all day, as we do, you’ll love these Spotify workflows.

The original Spotify workflow was created by Jeff Johns (phpfunk) and allows you to control Spotify with a thorough range of keywords. Have a look at the basic commands and download the workflow to get some summer tunes going!

For a different twist on the same theme, Spotifious by Ben Stolovitz also allows you to control Spotify, launching from a hotkey. Find out more and download Spotifious on the forum.

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OmniFocus Workflow

Need to be more efficient with your work tasks? If you’re an OmniFocus fiend, you’ll be able to manage your tasks from Alfred. Surely that means you can leave early and go grab a beer?

Download Marko Kästner’s OF Task Actions workflow

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Firefox & Chrome Bookmarks Search

This isn’t a workflow, but a very useful integration worth sharing.

Out of the box, Alfred searches Safari bookmarks, as Chrome and Firefox don’t support Spotlight search by default. However, we really like Brow by Tim Schroeder as an alternative way to get native integration for bookmarks search in these two browsers.

Once you’ve installed Brow, Tim provides a guide to adding your Brow bookmarks to Alfred, so that in a few seconds, you can search your Chrome and Firefox bookmarks within Alfred!

TinyPNG File Resizer

Benzi Ahamed’s TinyPNG resizer filters files on your Mac for .png files, then uses tinypng.org to shrink the file size of the file you selected. Handy way to save time!

Download the TinyPNG file resizer workflow

This is just a little taster; you’ll find many more workflows on the Alfred forum. Once you start creating your own workflows, you’ll also be able to get help from fellow Alfred users if you have any questions.

Alfred v2 Workflows: A Few of Our Favourites So Far

Since v2 was released nearly three weeks ago, some amazing workflows have been created by Alfred users. In this post, we’ll highlight a few of our favourite ones, ranging from simple actions to mindblowingly clever use of scripts and web services.

Don’t hesitate to download and install these workflows to see how they’ve been created, and which objects were used to build them. Soon, we will release a gallery containing these v2 workflows and many more for you to discover and enjoy! :)

You’ll need a Powerpack license to use these workflows. If you’re new to v2, you can buy a Powerpack license or upgrade your v1 license to get started.

AlfredTweet 2

This workflow is a gem by David Ferguson, who recently joined the Alfred team, providing community support to users in our Alfred forum. Tweeting from Alfred feels like you’ve acquired superpowers! You can tweet, follow, DM, block, and even tweet what music you’re currently listening to.

Download the workflow and, once installed, type “alfredtweet” to set up the workflow with your Twitter credentials.

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Amazon Suggest

I use Amazon to buy just about everything we need, so keeping Amazon’s search results at hand makes it even quicker for me to impulse buy choose carefully our next video game or book purchase.

No need to download this workflow, as it’s available in the in-app Workflow examples. You can find the examples on the Workflows tab by clicking on the + button at the bottom of the sidebar.

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Comics

Sneak a peek at your favourite comics directly from Alfred, thanks to Benzi Ahamed. Download the workflow.

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Colors

This workflow by Tyler Eich could save designers a lot of time! Convert CSS colours to various formats, and preview the colours within Alfred. Have a look at Tyler’s post in the Alfred forum to download the workflow.

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Recent Downloads

View a list of your recent downloads in Alfred and press return to open them. A simple but very handy workflow by Dajun Duan. Download it here.

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Evernote workflow

If you’re a fan of Evernote, as we are, you’ll love this workflow by Carlos-Sz. Search your notes by title or tags, create a new note from a text selection, clipboard content or selected file in Finder, and more. Download it here.

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And for some eye candy… Top Process workflow

I had to include this one as it’s geeky eye candy and makes great use of alternative action modifier keys, which you can see along the lines connecting the objects.

These alternative keys allow you to change the action you get when you hit the return key by holding a modifier key. Download the workflow.

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Give me more!

If we’ve given you a taste for workflows, you’ll find out many more on the Alfred forumIf you’re creating your own workflows, be sure to join the forum and add them to the “Share your workflows” section, so that others can enjoy using them too :)

V2 Beta: A Few Workflows to Get You Started

As promised in the blog post earlier tonight announcing the first Alfred v2 beta, here are a few workflows Mega Supporters can import to get started.

Google Searches

Search Google with a keyword or a hotkey, and launch in various browsers. This is a great starting point for creating your own alternative searches.

Download this workflow

Open Folders in TextMate

Use the “folders” keyword to perform a filtered search on folders only, then open then automatically with TextMate. Change what file types you search or choose a different “open with” application for a really useful quick filter to your files.

Download this workflow

Paste as Plain Text

Use a hotkey to paste the current contents of your clipboard as plain text.

Download this workflow

Should I watch this movie?

Type “movie” and the name of the movie you want to watch to search for trailers on YouTube (using Chrome – handy if you don’t otherwise have Flash installed on your Mac), open IMDB for more details and open Rotten Tomatoes to find out how bad that movie really is.

Download this workflow

jdfwarrior’s Alfred v2 workflows

If you still want more, check out David’s Tumblr for a few more useful workflows. He has created a Chrome Bookmarks search which presents results in Alfred, a Google Auto-complete workflow, a fantastic-looking Rdio search and a Mail.app search. He’s been working hard!

Looking forward to seeing what users will create over the coming months! :)

Cheers,
Vero

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Back to School: Custom Searches & Extensions for Students

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

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.

Extensions

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.

If you’re a fan of Evernote, as we are, you’ll find a wide range of Evernote extensions for adding notes in our extensions gallery.

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!

Entertainment

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 :)

Cheers,
Vero

[Image credit: Kate Ter Haar on Flickr]