A Hat Tip to Campaign Monitor

A few weeks ago, a few members of the Campaign Monitor team teased us with a cheeky picture of a mysterious purple box winging its way to us. “What might it contain?”, we wondered.

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This week, the box arrived containing an absolutely gorgeous handmade wool bowler hat to celebrate Alfred’s 4th birthday. It’s even got Alfred’s purple ribbon!

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It’s difficult for me to write about Campaign Monitor without sounding like an advertisement, but there aren’t many tools out there I look forward to using as much as their email platform. You see, for many years, before Alfred was born, I sent campaigns every day using badly designed, antiquated tools – and I still bear the scars! Switching to Campaign Monitor has made creating and sending email campaigns so much more pleasant that I haven’t looked back in about 8 years.

My favourite part of the newsletter process comes after I’ve hit the “send” button (holding my breath, hoping I haven’t forgotten anything). I’m rewarded with the Worldview report, where I can watch pins drop all over the world as you lovely people open our email and click on links. It never gets old to see real-time stats – and yes, I do wave as I recognise the names and faces of our long-time users popping up!

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Beyond the technology, the people who are behind Campaign Monitor are inspiring, fun and mighty clever – something you can sense through every interaction with them and the product.

On the subject of newsletters, you’re already subscribed to our Alfred newsletter, aren’t you? You can subscribe to our newsletter here or in Alfred’s General preferences tab in-app. We only send a few emails a year, and I promise, we’ve got some very nice surprises for you this year.

Cheers,
Vero

Fill Your Head with Tunes: Using Spotify with Alfred Workflows

Over the past few weeks, we featured a few of the apps we really love using with Alfred. While working on each one of these posts, I was listening to music using the service I’m featuring today: Spotify.

To say that we use Spotify a lot would probably be an understatement. At the end of 2013, Spotify released a “Your year in review” page, where you could see some mind blowing aggregate stats for its millions of users, the year’s most popular Monday songs, as well as some of your own usage metrics. Ahem, it turns out that we listened to over 30 non-stop days of Spotify music over 2013.

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It’s fair to say that Spotify pretty much fuels our week musically. Some clever Alfred users created workflows that gives you control of Spotify on your Mac. There are a number of great workflows, and below are two popular ones; a simpler one and a more advanced one, depending on how you like your workflows!

Remember that you’ll need a Powerpack license in order to use workflows.

A Simple Workflow: Spotifious

Spotifious by Ben Stolovitz is a great yet simple workflow that allows you to search and browse music on Spotify. Once you’ve set your hotkey, you can bring it up to see what’s currently playing and browse Spotify’s catalog.

It’s brilliant and requires no setup at all, other than using an up-to-date version of the Spotify app for Mac. The only downside is that searching can only be as fast as Spotify can respond to your query, so you sometimes have to wait a moment before your results appear.

Download the Spotifious workflow from Github.

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An Advanced Workflow: Spotify Mini Player

This workflow is Vincent de Saboulin’s Spotify Mini Player and gives you an even smoother search experience for your Spotify playlists, including showing artwork thumbnails as you browse.

It requires a bit of legwork to get started as you’ll need to sign up for a (free) Spotify developer account, but once you’re up and running, it’s the quickest and prettiest way to search. After setting up the workflow, it took roughly an hour for my library to be scanned and the artwork to be downloaded, but the results were beautifully presented and very fast.

Download the Spotify Mini Player workflow from Github.

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For those who can’t use Spotify yet

As Spotify isn’t available in all countries, those who are still waiting for the service to launch in their country can choose from the wealth of great workflows for other music services.

For example, users have created workflows for Last.fm and Rdio, and there is of course, Alfred’s integrated iTunes Mini Player.

What’s your favourite guilty pleasure song? If you tell me yours, maybe I’ll tell you mine ;)

Password Protected: Using 1Password with Alfred

Over the past few weeks, we featured a few of the apps we really love using with Alfred. Today, it’s an app I simply couldn’t live without: 1Password.

Not familiar with it? 1Password is an immensely helpful app in an era where we require passwords for every site we use, yet our memory can only hold so many at once. It allows you to contain all your passwords, credit cards, license codes and secret world takeover plans behind one master password. With a convenient iOS app, a browser plugin on your Mac and Alfred integration, it’s quick and effortless to log in to your favourite sites.

The integration with Alfred uses the 1Click Bookmarks to present you with the sites you can log in to when you type “1p” followed by your search term.

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Enabling 1Password Bookmarks

There are a few steps to take to get started. Note that you’ll need a Powerpack license for Alfred and 1Password installed to use this feature.

The first step is to install the 1Password browser plugin for your favourite web browser.

Enabling integration in 1Password (For 1Password 4 users only)

If you’re using 1Password 4 (released October 2013), perform this step. If you’re using 1Password 3, jump to the “Enabling 1Password integration in Alfred”. Open 1Password’s preferences to the Advanced tab and check the box that says “Enable integration with 3rd party apps”. This is essential for Alfred to be able to read your 1Password bookmarks.

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Enabling 1Password integration in Alfred

For users of all versions, in Alfred’s Features > 1Password preferences, enable 1Password bookmarks by checking the box. You’ll now be able to launch your bookmarks by typing “1p” followed by the name of your bookmark.

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See? There’s no need for Post-it notes with scribbled passwords, or heads filled with half-forgotten passwords. This is the quickest way to launch and log in to your favourite websites, all while keeping you perfectly secure. :)

Keep in Sync: Using Dropbox with Alfred

Last week, we celebrated Alfred’s 4th birthday by giving away licenses and subscriptions for some of our favourite Macs apps. This month, we are featuring each one, as well as sharing the best Alfred workflows to make the most of them. Today, we’re taking a look at Dropbox.

dropboxOver the past few years, Dropbox has become a fairly ubiquitous service; whether it’s sharing work documents, syncing your 1Password keychain or sending photos to friends, it’s the first port of call.

Dropbox to sync your Alfred settings

You know you’re using a good syncing service when you completely forget about it because it’s working so seamlessly.

If you’re a Powerpack user with more than one Mac, you can sync your settings using Dropbox. This ensures you can use your workflows, snippets and themes on your Macs and take advantage of any customisations you make. Of course, certain settings are specific to each of your Macs, including your main Alfred hotkey, search scope, current active theme – so nobody at work needs to know about the Pikachu-yellow Alfred theme you use at home! ;)

You can set this up in Alfred’s Advanced preferences; Start by setting up your primary Mac, letting your settings sync up to Dropbox. When setting the sync folder on your second Mac, wait until Dropbox has fully updated with the primary Mac’s settings, then choose the same folder and Alfred will begin to use the same preferences file.

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File filter to search Dropbox only

If you use Dropbox to store backups of files that are also on your Mac somewhere else, searching can get a little confusing. This is where file filters come in handy.

This file filter workflow took me a few seconds to create; it simply limits your search scope to the ~/Dropbox/ folder, so that the only files returned are those you’ve stored on Dropbox. You can customise it to your needs by adding specific files types (e.g. only PDFs or folders) or choosing a more specific scope (e.g. your Public Dropbox folder only).

Download the File Filter to Search Dropbox Only workflow.

This workflow was created using one of the many templates you can find in Alfred’s Workflows preferences by clicking the + in the bottom left.

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Screenshot & save to Dropbox

This workflow is a very ingenious and handy one by Carlos A. Sztoltz. It allows you to take a screenshot on your Mac and immediately store it in a public Dropbox folder, all while creating a shortened URL and copying it to your clipboard. This is at least as awesome as riding your bike with no hands. While standing on your head. And juggling fire.

It requires a little more setup than the workflow above; you’ll need to type “setupss” to tell the workflow which folder to save screenshots to, and add your bitly or Brb.bz details if you want to use URL shortening.

Once you’re set up, you can use hotkeys or keywords to take a screenshot of your screen, a specific window or a selected area. The screenshot will be saved in the folder you’ve set and a URL copied to your clipboard.

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You can download the Screenshots 1.1 workflow, and find out more about its features here.

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.

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.