by Flo Preynat

If you’re a designer like I am, even more if web design is your full-time activity, you probably do things over and over on a daily basis, whether looking for files or looking up things on the web. If you are in that case, and haven’t jumped on the Alfred bandwagon YET, then this post is for you.

Alfred is a mac-only productivity application to help people save time when searching for files online on locally. I downloaded it recently, and let it sit in the top right corner of my mac for a few days withouth touching it.

Then, I dedided to look under the hood and see what the fuss was all about, since I had failed to find an automatic use for it. Needless to say I wasn’t disappointed, and as thousands and thousands of very intelligent people already use it, it would have been surprising otherwise.

I am not going to drill down in detail every feature present in Alfred, mainly because I am far from a power user and don’t know them all, and also because as of today, I have yet to buy the Powerpack (supposedly packed with even cooler features).

Search through local files

Standard install seems to come with the file search disabled. It was the case for me anyway. So make sure you tick the folders, documents, images …etc tickboxes in the default results section of Alfred’s preferences.

Alfred file search preferences

Modify web search shortcuts

Shorten those pre-entered web search shortcuts, by altering the command keyword to a minimum (and to your liking). Example, I set the standard google search to a bare “g”, and google images from images to img.

Customize your Alfred triggers

[Alt + Space bar] to open Alfred command line, then “g css framework” (for example) to trigger the corresponding search. Same principle applies to google images (or maps… and more).

Add Custom web search

As mentioned above, we look for stuff every day on the web. But we tend to come back to preferred locations. As far as I’m concerned, I will always tend to click on a css-tricks blog post or forum entry if they come up in the results page.

Why not shortcutting the action by adding a custom search on, let’s be honest, if you are looking for something specific on web design, chances are it’s been covered by Chris at some point.

It takes two ticks to get those custom searches trigger working. Find out what the website’s results page look like, and replace the search term(s) by {query} in the Alfred’s search URL. Set an icon if you want and give it the trigger of your choice (here I chose css). Booya.

A custom CSS-tricks alfred search

Customize as many shortcuts as you want, you’ll quickly find a variety of websites you will want to add to your little app.
Github, Nettuts, and your own blog if you keep coming back to it, to name only a few.

Have a go at Alfred. Really.

My name is Flo Preynat and I am the freelance webdesigner and developer behind shoogle designs. I live in France and specialize in responsive web design. Give me a shoogle or get in touch with me on twitter.

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