5 Tips To Make Workflows Work Harder For You

Workflows are a great way to extend Alfred in ways that fit your particular needs and the frequent tasks in your personal routine. In this post, I’ve gathered a few valuable tips on organising and managing your growing collection of workflows.

Sync your workflows

NsntJZzYPbAY4hb-v2mPIxYuSjcFKtg0rpCJgw5vIsoIf you have a Mac at home and that you’re lucky to have an enlightened boss, you might have a Mac at the office too. If you use Alfred on both, you can sync your Alfred settings – including your workflows – between your two Macs using Dropbox. Create a new workflow at work (or a theme, custom search or snippet) and it’ll be automatically synchronised with your Mac at home.

Jump to the Advanced tab in Alfred’s preferences to set synching up, or take a look at the tutorial on syncing using Dropbox for a walkthrough on syncing your settings.

Categorise and filter your workflows

As your collection of workflows grows, you can organise them into categories. There are a few default categories to get you started, but you can add your own so that you can quickly locate all your music-related workflows, for example.

Once you’ve assigned your workflows to categories, you can filter to show a single category by clicking on the magnifying glass at the top of your list of workflows.

Find out more about creating workflow categories and filtering on our support site.

Show which hotkeys are in use

If you’re a hotkey fiend but your memory sometimes fails you, you can see at a glance all of your workflow hotkeys in the workflows list. You can toggle this view by clicking on the magnifying glass and checking the “Show hotkeys” box under Display Options.

sidebar_categories

As well as showing the hotkeys, there are other Display Options; Show categories, show workflow creator’s name and only show enabled workflows.

Group actions into a single workflow

A handy way of keeping track of similar actions, such as hotkeys used to launch applications, is to add them to a single workflow instead of creating a new workflow for individual hotkeys.

For example, below is the workflow I use for launching applications like browsers and tools I need frequently. To add these hotkeys, you simply need a “Hotkey” trigger connected to a “Launch Apps / Files” action.

multiple_hotkeys

You could do the same for a collection of file filter workflows or any other actions you’ve grouped together, making it quicker and easier to locate them.

Look out for workflows created by other users

As well as creating your own workflows, it’s worth taking a look at the wonderful range of workflows created by fellow Alfred users.

You’ll find some here on the blog, on the Alfred forum and on the wonderful Packal (created and maintained by Shawn Rice). Many developers host their workflows on their own websites so it’s also worth a quick Google search and a look at Github. It’s likely that if you’ve thought about it, someone has created a workflow for it! :)

10 Great Uses for Alfred’s Hotkeys

One of the best tools in the productive Mac user’s bag of tricks is undoubtedly hotkeys. We can all remember that first lightbulb moment where learning the basic shortcuts in OS X gave us that instant productivity boost!

With Alfred, you can kick this keyboard control into high gear. In this post, I’ve gathered ten of my favourite uses for hotkeys, so take a look at how you can improve your workday by adopting these tricks and creating a few handy hotkeys of your own.

In order to use some of the features below, you’ll need the Powerpack.

1. Launch applications, files or websites

Start your day with focus by using a hotkey to launch the websites, applications and files you need. For example, this workflow launches Mail and Safari, the Alfred forum and my to-do list text file, which makes it easy to kickstart my day while having my first coffee of the morning.

You can connect hotkeys to almost anything in a workflow, so there’s no need to pop up Alfred and type a keyword.

morning links workflow

2. Use the Cmd, Ctrl & Alt modifier keys with Return

When using Alfred’s search box, pressing return will open the application, file or website you’ve selected. Using modifier keys, your return key can do more. Press the modifier keys and you’ll see your results’ subtext change to an alternative action.

modifierkeys

You can change what each modifier key does in the Advanced preferences tab.

3. Launch Alfred with a File Filter

Let’s say you frequently search for PDF documents on your Mac. You can drastically speed up your search by using a hotkey to jump straight to a file filter workflow; No need to launch Alfred and type the keyword for your PDF search workflow.

Press your assigned hotkey to pop up the search box with the file filter already active. Your filter is identified by its icon on the left of the search box.

pdffilter

Download my PDF File Filter Workflow to see how simply you can create your own filters.

4. Large Type

Press Cmd + L to show any text in Alfred in large font across your screen. Handy for seeing phone numbers from across the room (or to share silly messages with everyone behind you in class!)

largetype

5. Paste as plain text

Paste text from the clipboard as plain text without showing the Clipboard Viewer with this handy little workflow.

6. File selection

Found a file in Finder you need to take action on? Select the file and pop up Alfred’s File Action panel with the Cmd + Alt + \ hotkey.

You can even create your own actions and add them to this panel with a “File Action” workflow object for tasks you repeat often.

fileaction

7. Speeding up hotkeys in workflows

This isn’t a hotkey as such, but a way to make your existing workflow hotkeys perform their task even quicker.

To ensure that hotkeys always work smoothly on your Mac, Alfred waits a few milliseconds before letting the modifier keys (alt, cmd, ctrl) go before performing the action associated to your hotkey combination. If you want to speed this up, you can change the trigger behaviour to pass the modifier keys through and give you faster hotkeys.

Right-click on the hotkey field in your workflow object to show the hidden menu below.

hotkeys-settings-fastest

8. Get to the Preferences quickly

Like most OS X applications, Alfred uses the standard Cmd + , (Cmd + comma) to open its preferences, so you can quickly put into action the new things you’ve learned here.

9. Contextual hotkeys

When setting a hotkey in your workflow, you can specify when you want the hotkey to be active by including or excluding applications. Just drag the related apps in!

contextualhotkeys_fade

10. File Buffer

If you need to take action on multiple files at once, the File Buffer is the best way to stack up the files you need before performing an action on all of them.

Use Alt + Up arrow to add a file to the buffer from Alfred’s results and Alt + Right arrow to take action on all of them. For the full set of File Buffer shortcuts, go to the File Search > Buffer preferences or have a look at the File Buffer support page.

Fancy discovering more great productivity features? Have a look at our Tutorials section for tips, tricks and workflows you’ll love.

Alfred v2.3 Released: Context-sensitive hotkeys, external triggers and more

Hot on the heels of the last release, Alfred v2.3 is now available in in-app update or from our website. It contains an abundance of new Powerpack features focused on workflows, including some very handy improvements for those of you who love hotkeys.

Context-sensitive hotkeys

While many of us can’t live without Alfred’s hotkeys for workflows, these can occasionally clash with hotkeys in other applications. From v2.3, you can now set hotkeys to be active or inactive while particular applications are in focus, to create app-specific hotkeys or disable certain hotkeys while in Photoshop.

With this new feature, you can shake the feeling of running out of hotkeys for good. To set it up, add a hotkey object to your workflow as usual and set your hotkey. Search for the relevant applications in Alfred and drag them from Alfred’s results directly into the “Related Apps” tab. Choose whether you want the hotkey to be active when these apps are or aren’t in focus, and you’re done.

workflow_hotkeys_related_apps

External triggers

You can now use AppleScript from an external source to tell Alfred what to do using the new External Trigger objects.

The possibilities are endless; iCal can execute a script at a particular time or your external app can use this trigger to tell Alfred to display text using the Large Type or Notifications.

Open a set file with a specific app

A simple but very handy addition to the “Open File” workflow object is the ability to select a static file and an application to open it with.

For example, this can be set to open an audio file in a non-default music player or to launch regularly-used reference files in a specific application.

short_circuit_workflow

Workflow defaults for creators

With such a wealth of workflows being created, developers can now set their own defaults so that their name, URL, readme and other important information is included every time they create a new workflow!

These are only a few highlights from the many new features, improvements and bug fixes we included in v2.3. Have a look at the change log for the full list.