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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]

Alfred Extensions: The best scripts (so far!)

[Update: You can find numerous Alfred extensions in our Extensions Gallery. The links in the blog post below may not be kept up to date, while the gallery is maintained more closely. You can also find out there how to contribute your own extensions.]

With Alfred 0.9.9 out for general release, we’re excited to share some of the best Alfred Powerpack extensions that we’ve seen so far.

These scripts have been created by Alfred users and are supported by their respective creators. Where possible, we’ve included a link to their Twitter account or website.

If you’ve created a useful extensions yourself, send us a link on Twitter and we’ll add the best ones to an upcoming Extensions page.

Tip: Don’t forget that once you’ve created an extension, you can right-click it in the sidebar to export it and share with friends!

SHELL SCRIPTS

Create a Symbolic Link [link] by @jdfwarrior
Result action that creates a symbolic link to the selected item

Down For Everyone or Just Me? [link] by @jdfwarrior
Checks downforeveryoneorjustme.com to determine if a site is down

Facebook Status (requires FBCMD) [link] by @jdfwarrior
Updates your Facebook status

eBay Checker [link] by @jdfwarrior
Provides item information from eBay

Flush DNS [link] by @jdfwarrior
Flushes your DNS cache

Lipsum Text [link] by @jdfwarrior
Retrieves lipsum text from Lipsum.com and copies it to your clipboard automatically

Local Weather Conditions [link] by @jdfwarrior
Displays local weather conditions via Growl. Get your weather location ID from weather.com or Gtwthr.com (setup page). Need metric units? In the script, change METRIC=false, to METRIC=true

Create DMG [link] by @jdfwarrior
Result action that creates a DMG image from the selected folder

Package Tracker [link] by @jdfwarrior
Tracks packages via packagetrackr.com and displays information via Growl

Get External IP Address [link] by @jdfwarrior
Retrieves your external ip address, copies it to the clipboard, and displays it via Growl

Zip Folder [link] by @jdfwarrior
Result action that creates a zip file from the selected item and places it on the desktop.
UPDATED: Now has ability to create archives with folders with spaces in the name. Long explanation of why it didn’t work. It’s fixed now.

Fantastical [link] by @jdfwarrior
Applescript that lets you quickly pass new events into Fantastical

Add a task to Remember the Milk
http://ruk.ca/content/alfred-remember-milk

Turn on/off Airport (by Andy Jeffries)
networksetup -setairportpower en1 on
networksetup -setairportpower en1 off
Use the ‘BSD device name’ from the ‘Network’ section of the System Information app instead of en1.

Tweet without a Twitter client
http://blog.daviscabral.com.br/post/5622626401/how-to-tweet-from-alfredapp

Changing network location
http://jamesoff.net/site/2011/06/09/alfred-script-to-change-network-location-in-os-x/

Open URLs in non-default browser window
http://snipt.org/xvmi Credit @f5point6

Get public IP address and copy to clipboard (by Joseph Flasher)
curl —silent http://checkip.dyndns.org | grep -Eo ‘([0-9]{1,3}\.){3}[0-9]{1,3}’ | bcopy

Create and open a new file with your Default text editor (by Roger Byrne)
touch /Users/rogermbyrne/Dropbox/Writer/{query}.txt; open /Users/rogermbyrne/Dropbox/Writer/{query}.txt

Lots more cool scripts by Don Southard:
http://www.dirtdon.com/?p=886

including:

  • Convert image to another format
  • Share your current song from iTunes or Ecoute
  • Create tasks in OmniFocus with Natural Language
  • Set Wallpaper from Alfred action menu
  • Start a screencast from Alfred
  • Use Alfred for Window Management
  • Upload Picture to Picasa
  • Create custom Bit.ly shortened URL
  • Upload file to Amazon S3
  • Convert video to AppleTV format
  • Create a CloudApp bookmark from Clipboard
  • Shorten a URL with Goo.gl and more

Full list of very useful extension scripts created by @jdfwarrior
http://jdfwarrior.tumblr.com/post/7380798414

APPLESCRIPTS

Spotify AppleScripts by Robin Enhorn
http://www.2shared.com/file/lgQFbHdq/Spotify_Applescripts.html

Evernote search
http://www.thoughtasylum.com/blog/2011/7/8/search-evernote-from-alfred-again.html

Adding notes to Evernote
http://www.ryoku.org/2011/07/creating-notes-in-evernote-with-alfred/

Switching VPN (by @johanbakken)
http://chopapp.com/#5sqsf2oe

Set your Adium status by @simonbs
http://bit.ly/nV4K4L

Create a task in Things by @preppeller
Andrew’s Tumblr post on Things

More coming soon

We’ll soon create a page where the best extensions of each type will be available for you to browse. In the meantime, link to your own extensions in the comments and we’ll be happy to include the best ones in our future extensions pages!