Alfred is more than an application launcher for your Mac, though I bet that’s what most Alfred users do most often—I’m certainly no exception. A quick command-space, type what I’m looking for, tap enter, done. But there is so, so much more that you can do. In fact I learn more things to do the more I use it. But to get you started here are my top 10 tips and Alfred actions…

  1. Powerpack Alfred App – Powerpack. Yes, the free version of Alfred is great, more than half of my favorite things to do with it are core to the free version. The thing is that some of the most useful shortcuts come with the Powerpack.
  2. System commands. Need to quickly lock your machine to step away? How about empty the trash without your hands moving to the mouse? Oh yes, all of these and more are right at your fingertips with Alfred. You can even change the default commands so if “emptytrash” is too pedestrian you could use “eradicate”. If “shutdown” doesn’t work, maybe “abort”. They are your commands…do as you wish.
  3. File searches. Sure Spotlight is great and doing a search in a Finder window when you’re in a Finder window is convenient, but what if you aren’t? Start with “find” and Alfred will search through all your files or use “in” and Alfred will search within your files instead. Found what you’re looking for? Email it, open it, go to it, even delete it. Pretty much just control it.
  4. Searching the web. Sure it’s simple, but just start your Google (or other engine) search with a couple taps and your fingers barely have to leave the keyboard. Oh, and it’s not just Google, it’s Bing, Yahoo!, Amazon, eBay, IMDb, even your Gmail and Google Docs, and even more.
  5. Calculator. Quick what’s (3+4)/2*8+10? Yeah, with Alfred you start with the “=” (enable the advanced calculator in the preferences) type it in and the result is there to copy (38 is the answer).
  6. Spelling. Look up definitions or find the right spellings in a few seconds.
  7. Clipboard (PP only). This is my fav of all the Powerpack add-ons, built in clipboard history. And with Alfred 1.2 you can now append to the current clipboard item and then paste that. You can even save snippets of things (like in TextExpander) that you wind up using often.
  8. Address Book (PP). Look up people in your by just typing their name. Then copy info to the clipboard or email them. Right there.
  9. Email (PP). Speaking of email, you can start emails right from Alfred too. Oh and with the myriad different file actions you can do, emailing a document to someone is never more than a few taps away.
  10. 1Password (PP). This is another new feature in Alfred 1.2 for Powerpack users. If you use 1Password start with 1p then start typing the service you’ve saved a password for…select, enter, and your browser opens and logs you in.

You can download Alfred either through the Mac App Store or directly through the website (which is the course I’d recommend actually) and while the features included for free are, well, awesome, the real fun comes with spending a little coin, £15 (about $25 US/CAD) gets you the Powerpack, which ramps up Alfred to a whole new level of awesome.

Frankly, even pulling together this top 10 list I found another half dozen Alfred actions I want to try. Like opening the last files a particular app opened or navigating through the file system or launching URLs or controlling iTunes. Alfred is one of those apps that is awesome for the moment you start using it—and then it just keeps getting better from there.

(Photo credit: Man in Bowler Hat by Wonderlane via Flickr)

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