Giveaway: Share your Alfred tips [updated with winners]

As you might know, about 3 months ago I started Alfred Tips tumblr which now houses over 50 tips and tricks, helping you make the most of the many, both free and Powerpack features that Alfred offers.

There are tips for beginners as well as advanced users, ranging from descriptions of how to launch multiple apps and files at the same time, tips showing the possibilities of custom search uses or even mini-tutorials explaining how to teach Alfred to behave just as you want him to.

Now it’s your turn!

What is your tip or trick for how to make the most of Alfred? Is there one thing that makes you incredibly productive? Is there a feature you can’t imagine not having anymore? Have you found a neat little way to do something that used to take you lots of time?

Share your own Alfred tip in the comments below for a chance to be one of the 5 randomly selected entries that will receive a gift pack of the lovely and gorgeous Field Notes notebooks. Or do it just for the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes once you’ve realised that your tip may be helping thousands of Alfred users.

Submission time has ended, thank you all for participating!

For a taste of what some of the best tips were, we particularly liked the following one by Molo One:

Turn Aiport on or off in four keystrokes (or less) using the new “silent” terminal mode [PP]:
1| Create two shortcuts : aion & aiof
2| Define aion as : networksetup -setairportpower on (for Leopard) / networksetup -setairportpower AirPort on (for Snow Leopard)
3| Define aiof as : networksetup -setairportpower off (for Leopard) / networksetup -setairportpower AirPort off (for Snow Leopard)
4| Check the “Silent” checkbox.

The 5 random winners of a Field Notes pack or beautiful Alfred schwag are:

Congratulations! We’ll be emailing you shortly with more information.

We’ll close the comments in 24 hours, so be quick! You have until 4pm UK time (11am EST/8am PST) on Tuesday 10th May to submit your tip. We’ll then post the names of the randomly selected winners as an update to this blog post.

I’ll be looking forward to reading your tips!

Anna (@annamanasova)

Alfred Productivity Tips: Using custom searches

Lego Ninjas are awesomeFancy becoming a productivity ninja with Alfred? Some might say that calling yourself a “ninja” is cliché but the ninja is efficient, stealthy and a master of his tools, just as you can be with Alfred. Besides, I’ve been gagging for an excuse to post this awesome Lego ninja picture so bear with me, alright? ;)

To help you discover some of the more advanced features, I’ve put together this mini series to introduce some of the power user functionality you may not have used before.

First, use the web searches

Before jumping into Custom Searches, have a look at the dozens of web searches in the preferences. We’ve included a stack of standard searches you’re likely to want to use. Simply type the keyword followed by your search term.

YouTube search in Alfred

Create your own custom web searches

There are no doubt websites you want to search that we haven’t included. In that case, it’s time to create your own! The key to creating custom web search is to work out the search URL for that site. Simply do a search and replace the search term with {query} like so:

http://www.netflix.com/Search?v1={query}

You can then use the searches to do super useful stuff:

And much more…

Searching apps on your Mac

There’s more than one flavour of custom searches; you can also create them for applications on your Mac. Not all apps offer an application URI so it’s worth digging around or asking the developer. Here are a few of our favourite ones:

  • Spotify: spotify:search:{query}
  • App Store:  itunes://ax.search.itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZSearch.woa/wa/search?term={query}
  • Facetime: facetime://{query}

A custom search without a query

Did you know that your custom “searches” can in fact not be searches at all? Launch any website with a custom keyword by saving it in Alfred’s custom searches.

Check out Anna’s Tumblr for regular tips on using Alfred and discover many more custom search ideas on Alfred fan Olivier Guerriat’s alfredtips.com.

Share your searches

As Jack Johnson says, “it’s always more fun to share with everyone…” so swap custom searches with friends. Use the copy icon to copy the custom search query and click on any special URL starting with alfredapp:// to import one to your own custom searches.

Sharing your custom searches

Chime in in the comments if you’ve become a black belt of productivity and want to share your own tips. We’ll feature some of the best ones in future posts!

Next time: Tweaking your search results to show just what you want

Alfred & QuickCal: Lightning fast calendar entries [20 License Giveaway]

Update: Due to the popularity, we now have 20 licenses in total up for grabs! Keep the funny calendar entries coming! :)

There are certain matches that are made in heaven; peanut butter & jelly, sunny days and weekends or Andrew and his new iPad 2.

Another great match made recently is Alfred and QuickCal. Created by Jim Boutcher of Smelly Puppy, QuickCal is an app that allows you to use plain text to create events and todos on any of your iCal calendars.

The two have now come together to make it even easier to add events to your calendar with an Alfred custom search. Just click here to import the custom search and say “Oh yes!” to add it to Alfred.

Quickcal logo

To use it, grab QuickCal in the Mac App Store for a mere $1.99 or £1.19. It’s a real bargain. However, if the price of a slice of pizza is too much for your pocket right now, Jim kindly donated 10 QuickCal licenses for us to give away.

QuickCal giveaway

Win one of ten licenses for QuickCal for Mac by entering in the giveaway below!

To participate: In the comments below, post the first calendar appointment you would make with QuickCal. Tomorrow, we’ll pick the ten best and funniest entries.

For example:

pick up Steve’s 37 black turtlenecks from drycleaner Fri 4pm

You have until 4pm UK time (11am EST/8am PST) on Thursday 7th April to post your entry. The competition is now closed – we will be announcing the winners shortly. Ensure you leave a valid email address so that we can contact you if you win. (Bonus points if your entry makes Andrew spit out his Diet Coke!)

The Winners

Congratulations to Matthew Callier for the entry that was unanimously voted as the funniest, most Diet-Coke-spitting entry:

Remember to put on pants before making QuickCal license acceptance speech video.

The other winners are:

  • John Davis
  • Bernhard Mäser
  • Daniel
  • Brian
  • Joe Wanja
  • Kumail Rizvi’s monkey
  • Greg Miles
  • Alexander de Haas
  • Ben S
  • Mashi
  • Paul
  • Florian Taltavull
  • Giles Butler
  • Michael Raphael
  • Patrick Tulskie
  • Kiero
  • Atlas Wegman, the walrus keeper
  • Luke
  • Stephanie

All winners will receive an email with their unique redeem code today :) Thanks to everyone who took part and submitted their entries!

Alfred in Technicolour: Your best colour themes

Since we launched the colour theming for Alfred, you’ve been creating a wide variety of beautiful, interesting and, in some cases, downright bizarre colour themes. It was tricky, but we picked a few of our favourite themes that you’ve submitted or shared.

To install: You need the Powerpack to use custom themes. Click on any of the themes’ screenshots to install them on your Mac.

Your favourite websites

Daring Fireball by @GrandLarceny

Facebook

Mac Appstorm by @vero

MacGeneration by MacGeneration

Your favourite sports teams

Boston Bruins by @drossignol10

Toronto Raptors by @drossignol10

Los Angeles Lakers by @drossignol10

More great themes

Homebrew by @elliotlevin

Go in peace, Quicksilver by @ivanneto

Tron by @drossignol10

Cool Green by @peter_woodworth

Blue Light by @drossignol10

Rockslide by @maxsteenbergen

Want to contribute your own? Leave a comment with a link to it (Pass it through tinyurl.com first, as WordPress disallows the alfredapp:// URI) or submit it to alfredtips.com, a site by Alfred fan Olivier Guerriat.

What are the best themes you’ve seen? …Or the worst ones? ;)

Fixing Vanishing Artwork in iTunes 10.2 Update


When we updated our Macs to iTunes 10.2 a few days ago, we noticed that our album artwork seemed to have vanished for a number of our albums when browsing with Alfred’s iTunes Mini Player.

*cue head scratching*

After a dig around, it appears that iTunes has changed the way it references album artwork. Whereas iTunes previously allowed Alfred to see referenced artwork files, it now only allows artwork embedded within the file to be used. This explains why a part of my music collection appeared to have lost its artwork.

Thankfully, it’s fairly straightforward to add the artwork to every track of an album:

  • Open iTunes and pop up the artwork preview pane below the iTunes playlists column on the left
  • For every album where the artwork vanished, first drag the artwork to your desktop
  • Select all tracks from the album in iTunes and “Get info”
  • Drop the artwork from your desktop into the artwork information field. iTunes will then embed the artwork rather than reference it in the iTunes database

How can you tell whether the artwork is embedded or not? The easiest way is to drill into your iTunes music folder using Finder and look at the files in grid/icon view. If the artwork has been embedded into a file using an ID3 tagger or other method, the artwork should show up. If the artwork is referenced the file will have a missing artwork icon, but if you look at the file in iTunes you will see the artwork there.

Can you help?

It’s an easy fix, but one that can be somewhat time consuming for those with large music collections. If anyone has discovered an alternative fix, we’d love to hear it!

A huge thanks to Brian Van Peski for his email about iTunes artwork which put us on the right track to identifying this issue.

Installing Alfred’s Powerpack

[Update: While Apple has added in-app purchase since this post was originally published, it has also brought in Sandboxing rules which affect our decision to put the Powerpack in the Mac App Store. You can read more on sandboxing in this Nov 2011 blog post.]

Since the Mac App Store was launched on Thursday, there has been a little bit of confusion over how to install the Alfred Powerpack after downloading Alfred from within the Mac App Store.

It’s quite simple… You need to download Alfred from our website to use the Powerpack. Think of downloading the version from our website as downloading a Pro or fully-featured version of software from any website. Once you have done this, the Powerpack tab will allow you to enter the serial code you have received and you can enjoy Alfred at his best!

Why can’t I just click a button to purchase in-app?

At this point in time, Apple does not support in-app purchase like it does on the iOS store. As soon as this feature becomes available to us developers, I will be right on it so purchasing Alfred will be as easy as clicking a single button!

What happens if I buy the Powerpack now or I already have a Powerpack?

Apple has not provided any mechanism for migrating users from outside the App Store into the App Store. We are not the only company to experience this – it has been talked about by Pixelmator, Panic and many more since launch.

This is not a problem in the slightest though as Alfred has been successfully updating itself automatically outside the App Store since the beginning of 2010. We have a wonderful community of users, including many Powerpack users, who enjoy the fast release cycle and sneak peeks into pre-release features – something we cannot offer to the Mac App Store.

As a user of the non Mac App Store, you will enjoy these benefits indefinitely :)

I don’t like reading, show me a picture

I don’t like diagrams, show me a better picture

Our cats when they were kittens, Rose (the b&w) and Jack (the ginger).
Jack and Rose

Cheers,
Andrew (@preppeller)