Alfred, my computer needs shining.

Alfred, for the mac!

Of course, I’m not talking about Batman’s butler, but instead about Alfred, a productivity application.

“Alfred is a productivity application for Mac OS X, which aims to save you time in searching your local computer and the web. Whether it’s maps, Amazon, eBay, Wikipedia, you can feed your web addiction quicker than ever before.”

Now what this program does is give you a little box for you to type into. It takes in what you’ve typed and returns results based on the text. Programs like these are often used as application launchers, because you can just type in a partial name of an app, and it’ll return the result instantly for you to open. Say I wanted to open iMovie. I’d start by typing in “im” and it’d return with instant results listing different items. (or in this case, one)

It’s a terribly useful program in the fact that it’s a great improvement on the usability of Spotlight, the search bar at the top right of every mac screen. In the end, it’s basically the same thing, but snappier and with a ton more features.

You can launch it with a hotkey, like ⌘+SPACE. A transparent popup will appear and you can type in the name of an application to find. You can then press enter, and it’ll open up the first entry it finds. In the case above, it would be iMovie.

It doesn’t have to be an application though. The next obvious step would be searching for a file on your computer. That’s really easy too. Open it up, type in a partial file name like “find revolution” and then it’ll search your computer. I was looking for “The Industrial Revolution.pdf”, and there it is as the first result! Awesomely snappy, and the results are instant.

Wanting to do a quick mathematical calculation can be very frustrating. When I have to do one, I always google the equation for a quick answer. Not the most elegant solution as I need to open my web browser to do that. Well, Alfred also works like a simple calculator. I typed in “(1227)^2 + 0329” and I got the result of “1227 squared plus 329” which would be 1505858. Pressing enter would put the result in my clipboard. Math!

Say I don’t know what a unicorn is. Not that I don’t–don’t accuse anybody here! But say that I didn’t and I wanted to look up the word. I could google it or check a dictionary. Both can be pretty darn slow though–or slow in comparison to how fast you can look up words in Alfred. I can tell Alfred to “define unicorn” and it’ll bring up a list of possible words I’m looking for. There’s a quick definition right away, hurray!

The average person will probably misspell the word, “weird.” Bummer. (Hah!) Alfred can help you out if you’re not very great when given the task of spelling words. Try a simple, “spell wierd”, and it’ll bring up possible spellings of any word that looks like, “wierd.” This works for longer and more difficult words as well.

Setting a hotkey to open up Alfred at any time is possible. It’ll overlap other windows your convenience, just like Spotlight. There’s a ton of features in Alfred–more than what I’ve shown here–and that’s what makes it rock.

Interested? Download it now from its website or the Mac App Store!

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