In Praise of Alfred Workflows

Alfred is the first program I install on any new Mac. If you’re not familiar with it, Alfred is an Application Launcher, an app that sits in the background and, upon being triggered, can quickly launch applications or other useful features (a dictionary, a calculator, etc).

There are many similar application launchers (Quicksilver, Launchbar, Spotlight), but Alfred–for my money–has the best and most rapidly evolving feature set. And with its most recent update, Alfred now supports “Workflows”–user-developed plugins for automating regular tasks. It’s a brilliant addition, and the Alfred community has quickly developed a wealth of workflows.

My favorites:

Evernote & Alfred

The Evernote 6.0 Workflow provides quick Evernote access within Alfred. You can search within notes or note titles, add notes, edit notes, append text, and more. The search feature is especially handy. For example, when a student comes to me to add a minor, I simply trigger Alfred (command+space), type ent (the keyword to search Evernote titles), and type minor. Alfred quickly lists the change of minor forms I’ve saved. Very handy.

YouTube Downloader

I frequently need to archive YouTube videos, and the YouTube Downloader Workflow offers a very simple means of saving YouTube content. Find a YouTube video, trigger Alfred, type YD, press enter, and a high quality video file will be saved to your desktop.

Swith Retina Resolution

This one might be specific to my needs, but the Switch Retina Resolution Workflow allows you to quickly jump between the Macbook Pro’s “Best for Retina” resolution (which offers the sharpest text) and its “Maximum Space” resolution. I use Best for Retina when reading PDFs, but I will switch to a larger workspace when working in Photoshop or developing a project that needs multiple open windows. This extension makes that switch quick & simple.

Open Current Finder Window in Terminal

The Open current Finder window in Terminal/iTerm and vice versa Workflow does just what it says, offering a versatile means of dealing with the file system. For me, this is most helpful when I’m digging through Finder windows and need to quickly jump into the Terminal. There are probably better ways to deal with such a problem, but this is the perfect hack for me.

There are many, many more workflows. If you’re an Alfred user, take a look at the Workflows forum. If you’re not using Alfred, I recommend you try it out.

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