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.

weather_cambridge

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.

main menu

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

OF-TaskActions

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.

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 18.05.51

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.

amazon_bioshock

Comics

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

comics_scrsht

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.

color

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.

recent-downloads

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.

evernote

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.

top-processes-small

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

books_square

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]

Alfredthe.me: Share your custom themes & browse for new ones

What makes developing Alfred so much fun is the amazing community that has grown around him over the past two years. And sometimes, Alfred users simply blow us away with their creativity!

Hot on the heels of last week’s search for the perfect custom themes to add to version 1.2, long-time Alfred friend and extension creator Kailey Lampert created a new site, Alfredthe.me, where you can share your custom themes and discover new ones.

You can watch a useful video on importing, exporting and customising your own themes on Alfredthe.me.

As an aside, Kailey is also the creator of the rather awesome Hangman extension, amongst many others. Play a sneaky game of Hangman using Growl and the boss won’t even notice! ;)

Happy theming!

Cheers,
Vero

Making Your Users Happy: The Business Tools We Use

Every company has its own processes, numerous little cogs that work together to give a more or less smooth user experience. When one little cog doesn’t work, it’s like having a stone in your shoe; only tiny but incredibly annoying. Over the past two years, we have tried to refine the processes we use to keep Alfred users as happy as possible, whether they use the core version or the Powerpack.

When a few fellow small business founders asked me what tools we used when we were at South by Southwest Interactive earlier this month, I thought I should share more widely some of our favourite ones, in the hope that they can help others keep a happy community.

Cachefly

While we also use the Mac App Store for distribution, a large number of users choose to get Alfred directly from our website. With hundreds of thousands of downloads for every release, we needed a fast, solid delivery network we could trust to always be available when you needed your Alfred fix. This is where Cachefly came in.

The download comes in lightning fast so don’t blink or you’ll miss it! :D

Campaign Monitor

There are a few tools that, once discovered, stay with you for a lifetime. Campaign Monitor is one of those; it’s an email marketing platform that allows you to send newsletters to your ever-so-precious list of customers. Their templates system make your life easy from one send to the next, and the support is friendly and second-to-none.

It’s super simple to add a signup box to your site (like the Alfred newsletter one here) and the process of sending a newsletter couldn’t be more straightforward.

Campaign Monitor have recently launched the Worldview feature, which allows you to see in real-time when your emails are opened. Inevitably, it makes me look like a complete lunatic as I say “Hi Stig! Oh hello Paul!” to my screen as I see Alfred users opening our newsletters. (Just think of me next time an Alfred newsletter lands in your inbox!) Every time, it’s a pleasure to use and pretty affordable for small businesses.

FoxyCart

Those who bought the Powerpack in the early days will remember that we used Google Checkout as our payment process. It was straightforward to set up but the user experience was… not brilliant. Google Checkout customer service was non-existent so if we or a user had issue, Google wasn’t there to help us resolve it as quickly as we like to.

A few months ago, we switched to FoxyCart, an e-commerce platform that was recommended to us by a few Alfred users. With a little bit of customisation, the Powerpack purchase process was fully branded in lovely Alfred colours and ready to be rolled out. We could now offer credit card and PayPal options to make buying the Powerpack a pleasant experience. The platform has been rock solid from day one so, conversion has increased and we’ve received many compliments on the friendlier process.

Twitter app

Every day, we receive dozens of tweets from you and we love reading each and every one. Andrew also tries to reply to as many of you chatty tweeters as possible.

Originally, we used Cotweet, a very useful if slightly hiccupy platform for responding to and archiving tweets. Unfortunately, a few months ago, Cotweet became a paid-only product with a high price tag, so we looked for alternatives. After experimenting with various apps, believe it or not, Andrew settled for the official Twitter app for Mac. This wouldn’t be suitable for larger teams where many people tweet, or for fancy tasks like setting posts to publish automatically later, but we use Twitter to talk to you so the simplicity suits us just fine!

On iOS, we both use Tweetbot for iPhone and iPad, which has the most pleasant UI out of the flurry of iOS Twitter apps out there.

WordPress

WordPress needs no introduction these days, but we fly their flag high and proud. It’s nice and simple to use, the WordPress.com hosted platform is stable and fast, and it’s a tried and tested solution. Through the highest peaks of traffic we’ve had, it’s never let us down so we can sleep easy.

Tumblr

Andrew picked Tumblr for his Alfred development blog, and so did Anna for the Alfred tips one. Tumblr is quick to publish to, and a lightweight solution when you just want to get those tips out there!

Wikidot

One of the most important assets for an app as flexible and complex as Alfred is a good knowledge base and FAQ. Around a year ago, we moved to Wikidot, a wiki platform, for our help site. The objective was to make it as easy as possible to add new knowledge base items and edit them, to keep them up to date.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100% satisfied with the way we handle FAQs. I’ll keep adding and refining content every day, but this platform makes it easier!

Get Satisfaction

One thing we’ve learned in the past two years is that Alfred users are tinkerers with a lot of ideas. From creating custom themes to sharing their own extensions, it made sense to have a user-to-user forum for swapping those ideas and tweaking extensions to make them just perfect.

Get Satisfaction is a quirky little support forum, which allows us to see the level of interest for certain features, and publicly help groups of users. Of course, it’s no guarantee that a feature will be implemented, but it’s a nice way to gauge interest and a great place for users to share their own extensions.

Ultimately, it’s about more than the tools…

You can have the best running shoes in the world, but if you don’t put them on, the miles won’t run themselves.

It takes motivation, passion and a whole lot of stamina to give your users a good experience . No matter how good the tools are, you’ve got to wake up in the morning with a smile on your face and a willingness to do everything you do as well as it can possibly be done.

Use the tools wisely and get to know what matters to your users. Welcome feedback, listen hard and carry on creating great software!