Tutorial: Launch a URL in 3 browsers from Alfred or Remote

When working on a web design project, the most time-consuming part is often testing in various browsers. To solve this problem, I created a little workflow that would allow me to quickly launch a URL in three browsers at once by tapping an icon on my Remote.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how you can create this workflow in just a few minutes. I also hope it will inspire you to find those small-but-repetitive jobs in your own day that you can replace with workflows or Remote actions to become more productive and less burdened by tiresome tasks.

Creating a Remote action is a two-step process; First, I’ll create the workflow itself, choosing the actions I want it to perform. Then, I’ll add it to the Remote page.

If you’re completely new to workflows, take a look at this tutorial on creating a workflow without a single line of code, which goes in a bit more detail to get you started.

Creating a workflow to launch in multiple browsers

The first step is to create a new workflow. I started with a blank workflow, gave it a name and icon. I then added one “Keyword” input and three “Open URL” actions from the + in the top right of the workflow page. I connected my keyword to all three actions, then proceeded to set each one up.

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When setting up the keyword, I assigned it the keyword “test” with a required argument, which will be the URL I’ll type or paste in.

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I double-clicked each of the “Open URL” actions, adding {query} as the URL; This means that the text I type after my “test” keyword will be passed on as the URL each browser needs to launch. Of course, I also choose a different browser for each one, so that it launches in Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

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I now essentially have a functioning workflow, as I can type test http://alfredapp.com into Alfred and press return to launch it in all three browsers.

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However, as I want to use this workflow in Remote, I also need to add a Remote trigger object. I connect this Remote trigger directly to all three “Open URL” actions; I’m not connecting it to the “test” keyword as I want the action to launch the browsers, not pop up Alfred with the “test” keyword.

In this case, I decided that I want the Remote action to use my current selection in OS X as the {query} argument. You could choose to use the current clipboard content if you prefer or choose to use text and enter a fixed URL if you’re always testing the same site. I’ve also given the trigger a unique identifier, an icon and a name.

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Adding the action to your Remote

Now that I’ve added a Remote Trigger to the workflow, I can add this action to a Remote page. To do this, I go to the Remote tab in Alfred’s preferences on my Mac.

I want to add the action to an existing Remote page; Clicking on an empty space brings up the list of actions I can add to my Remote. Under Run Workflow Trigger, my “Launch in 3 browsers” workflow contains the single action created earlier.

And here we go, there’s a new action on my Remote page called “Test all browsers”. Tapping it from my iPad will make my Mac launch the URL I’ve selected in OS X in the three browsers I want to test in.

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Tweaking workflows to your own needs

You can download the workflow I’ve created from Packal, or follow the steps above to create it yourself. You can also grab the icon I created for the workflow or create your own.

When creating or importing an existing workflow, don’t forget to customise it to your own needs. For example, I could add a hotkey, similar to the Remote trigger, which launches the workflow with either the OS X selection or clipboard contents. I could add multiple keywords where various pre-defined sites are launched if I know that I’m always testing the same few websites.

I hope that this tutorial will give you a glimpse into how flexible workflows and Remote actions are, and how you can ease the pain of repetitive tasks by creating your own workflows.

Want to see anything in particular in the next tutorial? Tweet us (@alfredapp) your ideas and I’ll cover a few over the coming weeks :)

How We (and You) Use Alfred Remote Every Day

Yesterday was an absolute hoot – thank you to everyone who bought Alfred Remote on launch day! And thank you for all the wonderful tweets, blog posts and comments you’ve made. It’s great to hear that so many of you have immediately adopted Remote into your Mac life.

As Alfred and Remote are so flexible, there are many ways you can put them to best use to suit your own lifestyle. In this post, I shine a light on some of our favourite uses for Remote so far, as well as a few you’ve shared with us so far.

Pair up your Remote to your Mac

Grab your iPad or iPhone and pair it with your Mac. It should only take a moment to check your Mac and iOS device are on the same Wi-Fi network, and pair your devices by following the steps in the Remote tab of Alfred 2.6’s preferences on your Mac. They’ll then be able to securely communicate with each other.

Get the right setup

You’ll also want to set up your iPad or iPhone to be comfortably accessible so that it becomes a quick-fire command centre while you’re working.

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Yes, my desk is always this tidy… ahem…

We’ve got a few iPad and iPhone stands we love; In the promo video and the photo above, you can see the stand Andrew and I use daily. It’s the Anker stand, which is small and understated, and works for both the iPad and iPhone.

The other stand we occasionally use is from Just Mobile; It’s stable and stands a little higher, which is great for the old iPad 2 that sits in the kitchen and primarily serves as a music controller.

So long as your iPad or iPhone can run iOS 7 or 8, it’ll make a great Alfred Remote, so dig out those older devices that are going unloved at the bottom of your drawer!

For your convenience, we’ve included an option in your iOS Settings, where you can choose to prevent your device from sleeping when Alfred remote is active. It’s particularly handy if you’re planning on sitting at your desk all day with your iPad plugged in, and want to keep your iPad awake.

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Fill up your own pages

To get you started, we’ve included some default Remote pages, including a page of popular Apple apps, System Commands, common folders and bookmarks. However, Remote really comes to life once you start swapping out apps for YOUR favourite ones, and creating pages for things you use daily.

For designers and developers

Create a page or two containing your most used apps, folders for your main projects, a bookmark for API documentation you need to use many times a day, and an action to launch your current URL in all of your browsers to allow you to quickly test your work.

In my next post, I’ll also show you how you can power-up your Remote by launching multiple actions with a single tap with the help of Alfred’s workflows.

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For music fiends

You’ll find the iTunes control page bundled with Remote, which gives Powerpack users to control iTunes; Play tracks, start random albums and rate your . However, if you’re keener on Spotify, Vincent de Saboulin has also produced a fantastic Spotify workflow which gives you a huge amount of control over your music.

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We’ve also seen screenshots of a Beats music workflow in the wild, so essentially, if your favourite music player supports AppleScript, it may be possible to create a control panel like this for it.

For the busy people!

Whether you’re a writer, project manager or anyone else who works with a lot of information, there are no doubt repetitive, uninspiring tasks you waste time on every day. Alfred 2 for Mac takes you a long way to improving your productivity with fast file search, clipboard history and an unbelievably broad range of workflows created by our community, but Remote can help you even further.

As well as modifying the Applications page to contain your most used ones, create a page of clipboard snippets to avoid re-typing commonly used bits of text like your office address. Build a page of links to your blog administration page, your site stats, your webmail and so on,  to save from having to remember the URLs.

Numerous workflows are also beautifully useful for writers, project managers and data wranglers; We’ll be featuring some great Remote-friendly workflows soon.

Power-up with Workflows

In the next post, I’ll take a look at how you can launch multiple actions with a single tap. This allows you to customise your actions further, making Remote fit your unique lifestyle even more.

In the meantime, we’d love to see how you use Remote. Share photos of your Remote and your desk with us on Twitter (@alfredapp) and we’ll do a round-up of the best photos in the next few days!

Getting Work Done with Slack, GitHub and Pinboard

Working smart is not the same as working hard. Alfred workflow creators know the difference, and have created some fantastic workflows to give you that extra efficiency boost when using teamwork tools.

These workflows were all updated in the past few weeks, so take a look at how they can help improve your productivity.

If you’re not yet familiar with workflows, you’ll need a Powerpack license to take advantage of this, as well as many other of Alfred’s great range of features.

Slack

slackfred-iconSlack is a team communication platform, and is quickly gaining popularity with teams where staff members might not be working in the same office yet need to keep in contact. The Slackfred workflow by Frank Spinillo allows you to search for files added by your team, usernames and room names. It lets you quickly set your presence as “active” or “away” and more.

It simply requires an API token, and you’re up and running with no further setup. If you’re an everyday Slack user, download the workflow from Packal.

GitHub

octocat.png,qitok=hzLMdciR.pagespeed.ce.aN7ODPBInhGitHub needs little introduction for developers; It’s the favourite code management platform for millions of users. While working on your own software, or even your latest Alfred workflow, you may end up with quite a few code repositories. This workflow also uses an API token to get you started.

With this handy workflow by Edgar Suarez, you can quickly search through your GitHub repositories and open them.

In fact, there are many GitHub workflows on Packal, of various degrees of complexity, so if you have a different task in mind, take a look. You might find a suitable time-saving workflow for your needs, or be able to fork an existing one to turn it into your perfect workflow!

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Pinboard

Pinboard is a bookmarking service, superbly useful for saving and tagging links to documentation you’ll need in the future.

This Pinboard workflow, created by Carlos A. Sztoltz, allows you to search, add and delete Pinboard bookmarks. Enter your API token and the workflow will cache your bookmarks locally for quick access.

Custom searches for your bug tracker of choice

If you’re using a web-based bug tracker, it’s likely that you can also use a custom search. Whether it’s JIRA, Bugzilla or any of the dozens of bug trackers out there, many will allow you to create a simple keyword-based search. Add it in Alfred’s preferences, under Features > Web Search, by clicking “Add custom search” or learn how to create your own custom searches with this tutorial.

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For a pleasing look and quick access using a hotkey, I transformed the custom search into a simple hotkey-based workflow:

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Many of the workflows above can be downloaded on Packal, where you can find many more excellent productivity boosters. In fact, as of today, there are over 375 workflows on Packal, as well as over 70 colour themes you can import with one click. If you’ve created something useful, you can also submit your own as a contributor.

Got any questions about creating workflows? Let us know on Twitter (@alfredapp) so that future tutorials can cover the topics that interest you the most! :)

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.

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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.

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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! :)

Tutorial: Using the same keyword for multiple actions

Today’s tutorial takes a look at how you can create a workflow using the same keyword for multiple actions.

Generally, it’s preferable to have unique keywords, so that you can type it, hit the Return key and launch the workflow. However, when you have a set of similar actions to perform that you don’t use everyday, it can be a useful way to group them together. Remembering numerous rarely-used keywords can be inconvenient when you have a memory like a sieve!

For example, I use Safari as default browser, but need to view sites that requires Flash in Chrome, so I first set up a workflow that launches the Fitbit website in Chrome. I then added two more actions to launch different pages to log activities and sleep when I’ve forgotten to wear my wristband. (What did I say about being forgetful?)

As you can see, the keyword brings up four items; Three workflow entries and the Fitbit Connect app. The most frequently used result (the website) appears at the top of the list, but the other actions are also conveniently available for occasional use.

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To set up this workflow, I simply connected each action to a separate, but identical keyword. If I had connected the three “Open URL” objects to a single keyword, Alfred would have presented me with a single results, and all three pages would have launched at the same time when I hit Return (which can also be useful, but wasn’t the objective here).

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In this case, all keywords except for the Fitbit Connect application are part of the workflow, but you could also use the keyword for a custom search if the website had a searchable documentation section.

Enjoyed this short tutorial? You’ll find many more in the Tutorials section of the blog.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.