Alfred Review: Productivity Redefined
One of the features that has made the Internet so great is Google search. Wether it’s your favorite search engine or not, we can’t deny the innovation in its power and simplicity. This is why Google has won the search wars. They have offered the complete Internet in a search box.
Apple attempted to introduce the same functionality to your computer files with Spotlight, which launched in June 2004. It worked, but not perfectly or elegantly as it should have.
When Alfred came along, I gave it a shot. I fell in love with it automatically and it has become my Spotlight replacement ever since. Just recently, Running with Crayons (best company name ever) has rebuilt the app from the ground up as a 2.0 release. So, what do I think about it?
With Alfred 2.0 you still get the option to find apps, files, search the web, look up contacts, access calculations, definitions and so much more. Though Alfred works pretty good on its own, the true power comes when you purchase the PowerPack. This is where the real innovation shows. Workflows, clipboard & snippets, iTunes collaboration and integration, Theming and so much more.
But what’s really exciting about this release it’s the use of workflows.
You can create workflows based on keywords, actions and code to have Alfred do some powerful stuff. If you are not very fond of creating your own workflows there’s already an active community that shares some of their workflows with users.
Here, you can see howI imported a workflow that tells Alfred to tell me the weather forecast easily:
You also have the option of importing other workflows such as URL Actions + Custom bit.ly URL shorteners, play songs in iTunes, Screen shots, Rdio interactions, Evernote workflows and much, much more.
You can also dress up your Alfred to your own liking. If pink and green are your favorite colors? Theme Alfred with those colors. Prefer a more manly and tough look? Dress it in platinum and black. You create your own themes including colors, fonts, sizes, and more. Think your friends will appreciate your hot pink theme? Share it with the world! It’s easy to contribute your own themes with the Alfred community.
The beauty of Alfred has always been the ease of use. Call Alfred with a quick shortcut (I chose Command + Space bar) and type away. You can tell it to do almost anything or almost nothing at all. It’s your choice. Also, the settings are very deep with this release and you can hack away as much as you want with it.
What I like to do is also look at the statistics. You can see how often you rely on Alfred as time goes by. In the screenshot below, you can see only a day or two worth of use. Since It just launched you can’t see much activity in the screenshot below. But as time goes on, I have a feeling that this will be the most used feature in my Mac.
Most people are happy with Spolight and others with alternate app launchers like Quicksilver. Launchbar and others. However, I would encourage you to give Alfred a look. It has completely changed the way I approach my Mac, and no other software has a special place in my heart the way Alfred does. Alfred has become such an important part of the way I work on my Mac today, that I will never want to live in an Alfred-less world.
Alfred App: http://www.alfredapp.com/
Free (around $23 with PowerPack)