A recent study by Brainscape has shown that just learning keyboard shortcuts instead of mousing around the screen would save most computer users almost two full weeks of work time each year. I’m a big shortcut user (per my previous Gmail shortcuts post), though I also depend on a slew of free or cheap tools that similarly make my Mac far more pleasant and efficient. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be cataloguing the best of the bunch.
I spend that vast majority of my computer time in my web browser. But I also regularly dip into a number of other apps, as projects demand. Launching them the traditional way – going to the Finder, then opening the Applications folder, and double-clicking the app – is painfully slow. And Spotlight, the built in search functionality in OS X that also can launch apps, is underpowered and not much quicker.
Enter Alfred, a small app with a big impact. Once loaded, you can launch Alfred with a keystroke (by default, ‘command-space’), which loads an empty command bar, like this:
Launching an app with Alfred is ridiculously easy. Just start typing the app’s name, then click enter once it appears:
You can also use Alfred to quickly open files the same way:
It works as a calculator, too. Just start typing an expression, and it automatically calculates the result:
Alfred does far more than that, pulling info from contacts, managing iTunes, or saving prior cut-and-pastes from your clipboard. With custom workflows, you can add even more powerful behaviors – with just a few keystrokes, I can add a song on the current Spotify playlist to my saved files, for example.
In short, it’s a pretty deep rabbit hole. But in my experience, even if you never use it for anything more than app launcher, file-finder and quick calculator, it will already make your Mac wildly easier to use; enough so that you’ll chafe with irritation borrowing somebody else’s Mac that doesn’t have Alfred already enabled.
You can download Alfred free directly from creator Running with Crayons’ site.