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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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!
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.