How I’m using Alfred on my Mac – Part 1

This is Part 1 of how I use Alfred. This is not a review of all Alfred’s features. It’s how I use Alfred. If you’re looking for a review of Alfred’s features you can find it here.

Last year I wrote three articles about some of the ways I use Alfred. To get started, I’m going to refer back to those for those of you who may have missed them.

How I use keyboard shortcuts to launch apps

How I use keyboard shortcuts to trigger system commands

How I use Alfred to launch Safari bookmarks

All the ways I’m using Alfred app on my Mac

Update: February 12, 2018

Below are links to all the articles in my “All the ways I’m using Alfred Series”:

How I’m using Alfred on my Mac – Part 1
How I’m using Alfred as a clipboard manager on my Mac
How I use Alfred for text expansion on my Mac
How I use Alfred to launch files and folders on my Mac


If you been following my blog you know I’m a big fan of Alfred. It does an amazing array of things on my Mac. It’s without a doubt my most used app.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of articles about the ways I’m using Alfred. As a heads up, some of them require the Powerpak.

If you’re new to Alfred the basic app is free. The Powerpack is $26 US, which I highly recommend. If you would like to follow along go ahead and download the free version now. That way you’ll be ready to follow along when the first article in the series is published.

To make sure you don’t miss an article click on the Follow My Blog via Email button in the left column of my blog and enter your email address.

 

 

Using Alfred to trigger common system commands

One of my most used Alfred features is triggering system commands from the keyboard. This saves me a lot of mouse clicks. I can empty the trash, force quit apps, lock, logout, restart, or shutdown my Mac right from the keyboard.

The System Commands section in Settings has triggers for the most commonly used system commands.

I’ve carried this one step further. Instead of invoking Alfred and typing the trigger I’ve created hotkeys for my most often used system commands. So for example, instead of invoking Alfred and typing logout to bring up the action I use the hotkey ⌃⌥⌘O.

This is something you may want to do so you can download the workflow here.​

iPad – Can it replace my Mac update

I switched to Apple products about 4 years ago. My first device was an iPhone 6 that replaced an LG Android phone. Shortly thereafter I replaced my ailing Windows PC with a late 2013 21” iMac. Next came my early 2015 13” Retina MacBook Pro. And I recently upgraded my iPhone to a 7 Plus. With this setup, I never felt the need for an iPad. In fact, I recently wrote an article Can iPad replace my laptop.

So here’s how I’ve ended up with an iPad. Several months ago a friend gave me a B&H gift card that I had actually forgotten about. After rummaging through some stuff the other day I ran across it and realized it was going to expire on October 30 which was only a few days away. Not knowing what to get I decided on an iPad. So I placed an order for a 2017 iPad 9.7” with Retina display and 128 GB storage.

I’ve been using it now for a few of days. The setup was pretty straightforward. I installed all the apps that I want on it and purchased a Speck Slim Balance Folio case for it.

Now how does this iPad fit in with my iPhone and Macs? My computing needs are pretty simple. I write, read, browse the web and manage my finances. Knowing what I do, I am sure I wouldn’t want to completely switch to an iPad. So far I like the reading and web browsing experience on the iPad is. It’s lightweight making it easier to handle than my MacBook and easier to read on than my iPhone.

Writing is not so great. My writing workflows include apps like Keyboard Maestro, Alfred, PopClip, and Marked 2 that improve my productivity. There are no apps like this for iPad. I have to jump through too many hoops to do the same things (if at all) I can do on my Mac.

Here’s the bottom line. I like having an iPad but I certainly don’t need one.

Search Safari and Chrome tabs at the same time

As you all know I’m a big fan of Alfred. I use it more than any other app on my Mac.

Here’s a helpful workflow I found a few weeks ago and I’d like to share it with you.

Do you ever have tabs open in Safari and Chrome and want to go to a specific tab but you can’t remember whether it’s open in Safari or Chrome? Here’s an Alfred workflow that lets you search the open tabs in both browsers at the same time.

The workflow is “Search Safari and Chrome Tabs” and you can download it here.

To search your tabs, type “tabs” in the Alfred bar followed by your search term.

When you select a result, it’ll bring your browser to the front and switch to the selected tab. You can also close a tab by holding down alt when selecting a result.

How I use Alfred for Safari bookmarks

Safari is my default browser. The Alfred feature I’m going to tell you about works with what ever browser you have set as your default. You’ll also need the Powerpack.

I launch all my bookmarks using Alfred. Alfred recognizes URLs when I type them into the Alfred box so I can launch a website in Safari from anywhere. Once I’ve typed a URL Alfred remembers it in a history.

Now the next time I want to launch a bookmark that’s in my history all I have to do is start typing in the Alfred box. For example, if I want to go to the Mac Stories website I can type “mac” in Alfred box and hit ⌘3. As you can see the macdrifter and macsparky URLs also appeared.

This saves me several mouse clicks over using bookmarks in Safari. And remember, you can launch a bookmark this way from anywhere.

This feature can be enabled under Features > Web Search > URLs/History.

Use Alfred to launch Safari URL in Chrome

Safari is my main browser. From time to time I come across a website that doesn’t play well with Safari. When this happens I open the site in Chrome. Thanks to Alfred I have a very simple way to automate this. Whenever I come across a site that isn’t working well in Safari I hit ⌥⌘G and it takes the current Safari URL and loads it in Chrome.

Download the Alfred workflow.

You can also do the same thing using Keyboard Maestro if you’re a KM user. I wrote about how to do it here.

Launch your favorite Mac apps with keyboard shortcuts using Alfred

The other day I wrote about launching Mac apps with keyboard shortcuts using Keyboard Maestro. If you’re an Alfred user you can do the same thing with an Alfred workflow.

Here’s my workflow to launch Safari with the hotkey ⌥S. You’ll need the PowerPack to do this.

Step one is to create a new workflow.

Step two is to setup a trigger for the hotkey.

Step three is to add the Launch Apps action and drag in the application(s) you want to open. The easiest way to do this is to search for the application or file in Alfred and drag it directly from Alfred’s results into the action box.

Optionally, check the “Toggle visibility for apps” to tell Alfred to show/hide the app. Connect the action to the hotkey to quickly launch the app.

I prefer launching apps with Alfred for one main reason. I like the way the show/hide app functionality works in Alfred better than the way it does in Keyboard Maestro.

Can iPad replace my laptop?

Brett Terpstra recommended this article in Web Excursions for July 14, 2017.

An in-depth look at the current state of the question “Can iPad really replace my laptop?”

This is an excellent article that will help you decide whether an iPad or MacBook is better for you.

Can iPad replace my laptop? by Joshua Carpentier

In this post, we’ll have a look at the biggest changes to iPad with iOS 11, when an iPad is most suitable as a laptop replacement, and when a laptop is still the best choice. We’ll even look at a THIRD OPTION you’re probably not aware of that gives you the best of both worlds. But let’s start with taking a look at what you should think about (but aren’t) before making any purchase.

What to consider before buying a new computer

When looking for a new computer, many (I’d even argue, most) people claim they “need a laptop”—usually because that’s what they’ve always had. And so they naturally think that’s what they still need because they haven’t done these two things:

  1. Assess what they actually do on a computer
  1. Learn about the changes in technology since they last made a laptop purchase

I’ve always felt that an iPad couldn’t replace my laptop. I’m even more convinced after reading this article.

Productivity tools like Alfred and Keyboard Maestro are a major part of my daily workflow. These tools have no iOS counterpart. I use both many many times everyday and I’m not willing to work without them.

I prefer to do most of my writing on my iMac instead of 13″ MacBook Pro Retina because of the extra screen space. I’ll often have Ulysses, Marked, nvALT, DEVONthink, and Safari open at the same time. Safari may have up to 10 or 15 tabs open as well. I can’t imagine doing this on iPad.

After reading the article you’ll have a better idea on whether an iPad can replace your laptop.

Recent Items 4.2 for Alfred 3

If you’re not familiar with Alfred, Alfred 3 for Mac is an award-winning app for which boosts your efficiency with hotkeys, keywords, text expansion and more.

Recents is an Alfred workflow triggered by the rec keyword. This opens up the navigation menu shown in the screenshot below where I can select a category to narrow down my search of recent items. The available options are Now (for the most recently accessed files), Folders, Applications, Documents, Downloads, and Favorites.

I use this instead of using Finder or the Recent Items menu to find recently used files, folders, documents, applications etc. I find this much quicker as all my recent items are in one place.

The download link for the workflow is here.

My Must-Have Mac and iPhone Apps for 2017

I don’t know about you, but I spend a huge chunk of time using my computer and iPhone.

I’m using my computer right now. And, as I type this story, my iPhone is just is just a few inches away.

I use these devices almost all day every day for work stuff, family stuff, writing stuff and more.

I want to share my Mac and iPhone setup with you in hopes that you’ll discover a new app that will improve your workflow or make you more productive in 2017.

My Mac setup:

I have two Macs. My iMac is a 21.5” late-2013 model and my MacBook Pro is a Retina 13” early-2015 model. I work from home, so my iMac is my primary work machine. My MacBook is where I do most of my reading and a lot of my browsing.

Here’s my software and what I use it for:

Productivity

  • Safari — is my browser of choice. It just works best on macOS for me. I’ll occasionally use Chrome when something doesn’t go right with Safari.
  • Fantastical 2 — is where I keep track of all my events and reminders for both work and personal.
  • Bear — I recently started using Bear as my notes app in place of Evernote and Apple Notes. I’ve been using it for a few months now. I upgraded to the Pro version so I would have iCloud sync across all my devices. FYI Bear is a lot like Ulysses so it would also be a good writing app if one didn’t want to pay the price of Ulysses.
  • Alfred — is a productive app I just recently discovered. It is like Spotlight on steroids. With Alfred I’m to boost my productivity with hotkeys, keywords, text expansion and much more. In fact, I like it so much I upgraded to the Power Pack. Alfred is a free. You should definitely give it a try.
  • Copied — is for managing my clipboard. Copied allows me to collect all my clipboard data and have it quickly available to use again.
  • Dropbox — is where I keep all my files, both personal and work.
  • 1Password — is for my password management. This is another must have app.
  • Postbox — is my personal and work email client. I’ve tried many email clients and never found one that accommodated all my needs until Postbox. In my work, I send a lot of repetitive emails. What sold me on Postbox is Responses. Responses allow me to send the same message without having to type it over and over. Responses are like canned responses in Gmail.
  • Zoho CRM — is a web based app where I manage all my client data.

Reading

  • Reeder — is my feed reader for my Inoreader RSS feeds integrated with Pocket for reading later.
  • Tweetbot — is for following my Twitter feed and saving links to Pocket for reading later.

Writing

  • Ulysses — is the app I use to write all my stories. In fact, I’m writing this story in Ulysses right now. One of the great features of Ulysses is the ability to publish directly to WordPress and Medium right from the app.
  • Grammarly — For proof reading all my stories for grammar and punctuation.

Utilities

  • f.lux — to protect my eyes at night.
  • App Cleaner — is for uninstalling apps you no longer want. It deletes all the junk that gets left behind when you just drag the app icon to the trash.
  • TunnelBear VPN — is for security on public WiFi and privacy while browsing.

My iPhone setup:

I have an iPhone 6s in Space Gray. I’m currently considering an iPhone 7 Plus. I use my iPhone for all work and personal phone calls. When working I use a Jabra Bluetooth headset for hands free calling.

Here are my apps and what I use them for:

Productivity

  • Safari — is my browser of choice.
  • Mail.app — is for my work and personal email needs.
  • iMessage — is for messaging my friends and family.
  • Fantastical 2 — is where I keep track of all my events and reminders for both work and personal.
  • Copied — is for managing my clipboard.
  • Bear — is my note taking app.
  • Launch Center Pro — is my productivity app for launching actions in a single tap.

Reading

  • Reeder — is my feed reader for my Inoreader RSS feeds integrated with Pocket for reading later.
  • Tweetbot — is for following my Twitter feed and saving links to Pocket for reading later.

Writing

  • Ulysses — is on my iPhone but I rarely use it for writing. It’s there for the share sheet capability for that’s that I want to get into to Ulysses for use next time I’m writing on my Mac.
  • Drafts — is for multi-purpose writing and note taking.

Utilities

  • TunnelBear VPN — is for security on public WiFi and privacy while browsing.

Fitness

  • Strava — is for recording and tracking all my cycling activities.

6 Things you can do with Alfred 3 to boost your productivity on macOS

A couple of months ago I came across Alfred 3.0 for macOS.

Alfred is an award-winning app for macOS which boosts your efficiency with hotkeys, keywords, text expansion and more. Search your Mac and the web, and be more productive with custom actions to control your Mac.

Since I’ve never used a launcher, it took awhile to get used to doing things with the keyboard rather than the mouse. It also took awhile to learn all the things I could do using Alfred. Continue reading “6 Things you can do with Alfred 3 to boost your productivity on macOS”