Your Mac is incomplete without Alfred

Alfred is easily one of my most essential and most-used pieces of software. It’s usually the second app I install on a new Mac when setting it up (right after Dropbox, which I only set up first because Alfred’s settings are synced via Dropbox).

And yet if you hear my excitement about it and ask “What is Alfred, anyway?”, well, I can’t quite answer!

Oh, okay, well what does it do?

See, that’s also kind of tricky because it doesn’t really do much of anything on its own. It does make it quicker for me to do other things.

The simplest use case is that it’s an app launcher. Wait, I can already launch apps on my Mac, you say. “Well, what I mean is that you can launch any app from Alfred just by starting to type its name on the keyboard.” But, doesn’t Spotlight already let you do that?

“Yeah.”

“But Alfred can do waayyyyyyy more.”

And even with that, it’s hard for me to describe what Alfred can do without just listing off a bunch of completely different but useful features and sounding super scatter-brained about it.

The truth is, Alfred is fundamentally a very open-ended tool that makes it quicker and easier for you to accomplish things that are typically kind of tedious or repetitive.

For Alfred to become useful to you, you have to develop the habit of using it, and you do have to find yourself on the lookout for new opportunities for using it and customizing it to really benefit from it. You don’t have to use every single feature it offers, but once you have a general idea of what you can do with Alfred, you will develop an eye for new things Alfred can help you do more quickly.

Alfred looks deceptively simple. When you invoke Alfred with its standard hotkey, you just see a text field like this:

screenshot of the Alfred window

Looks pretty unassuming, huh?

But once you begin to type things into Alfred you find that it can do all sorts of things you ask it to do.

Oh, so Alfred is like Siri, but you type it

“Well, sort of. But on the other hand, sigh. Siri and Alfred aren’t even in the same league.”

Instead of trying to just tell you everything about Alfred that would no doubt be a dry and boring read, I’m going to make a series of short posts about things you can use Alfred for.

But wait, there’s more!

And to sweeten the deal and spread the Alfred love, I’m going to give away some Alfred Power Pack licenses to some lucky readers (confession: you probably don’t have to be that lucky; I don’t have very many readers). I’ll post rules to enter in an upcoming Alfred post, so you should subscribe so as to not miss out.

I’ll be giving away at least two licenses, and possibly more depending on how many ideas for posts I have. Also, not to put on too much modesty here, but almost no one actually reads icanthascheezburger, so if you are reading this and you want to score an Alfred Power Pack license, your odds are… pretty good!

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