My Top 3 Alfred Features For Developers
Alfred is extremely powerful, customisable and scriptable replacement for Spotlight. I first heard about it from Ali's Abdaal video. I must admit - I was sceptical at first, but after realising how much time I save everyday by using keyboard shortcuts instead of clicking through all sorts of menus, I couldn't resist giving it a try. Don't you hold back, Alfred is awesome! Here are my top 3 features I use every day as iOS developer.
1. Custom Search And Default Fallback For Confluence
I am almost certain that company you work for has some kind of internal knowledge base. You might even have your personal one. Regardless if it's in Notion, Confluence, Github or Basecamp it can become huge and hard to navigate. Custom search was a real game changer for me, as only after I've configured it, I started to use Netguru's Confluence. Before that I had to open web browser, remind myself non intuitive URL, wait for it to load, locate the search bar and only then I could type what I am looking for. At this point I usually forgot why I opened it in a first place. Thanks to Alfred I'm able to just press
Cmd + Space and type search term right away. Alfred will construct the URL for given search term and open it in default browser.
Let say I am looking for
hello world, Alfred will convert it to
/search?text=hello%20world, append it to base url and open it in default browser. To omit the keyword, that tells Alfred to use certain custom web search, I had to mark it as second default fallback. After typing the search term I press
Cmd + 2 to see search results way faster!
2. 1Password Integration
This Alfred feature changed my mindset from "I'm using password manager, because it's right thing to do" to "I want to use password manager, because it's convenient". The way it works is that, after enabling integration in both Alfred and 1Password, Alfred can search through visible parts of 1Password entries, for example names. By default it does that for
1p keyword. Search results are displayed in Alfred and after selecting desired result, website associated with that entry will be opened and auto filled with login and password. Mind blown! If there's no associated website for entry, that entry will be opened in 1Password app, which is useful for entires of different type than
SSH Keys. If you like the idea, but use different password manager, look online - as far as I know similar integrations for different password managers do exist.
3. Clipboard history
Sometimes quickly jump between tasks is necessity, despite how much everyone hates it. The most well known example might be coding in Xcode and spontaneously replying to messages on Slack. In those situation I often find myself losing something important from clipboard like snippet of code from Stack Overflow. It's always a surprise to get a piece of message I just typed instead of expected code snippet. Alfred helps in such cases by keeping history of almost everything I've copied, even files. Default shortcut to open clipboard history is
Cmd + Option + C, but it's also possible to open it by typing
clipboard into Alfred. After selecting entry from clipboard's history using arrows, followed by pressing enter, Alfred will paste it and replace whatever is currently in clipboard with it. What about sensitive data we've might temporarily store in clipboard? Worry not - Alfred by default ignores data from apps like Keychain or 1 Password or any content that has been appropriately marked using universal identifiers. More on universal identifiers here.
To sum up the main benefit of using Alfred is ability to do everything solely from keyboard. Not having to move your hand(s) to pointing device like trackpad simply saves time. Muscle memory FTW!
If any of those features sound useful or like a potential improvement to you workflow, I suggest you give Alfred a go. If you decide so, look for other use cases and initially force yourself to do them using Alfred, even if you got used to doing them the usual way. For example take a look at Ali's article. I can't imagine working without Alfred now.