Alfred App 101: Web Searches

We're very excited about all the things Alfred can do and the new functions that are being added every day. But sometimes you just want to get started quickly, figure out the basics and launch in. Here's your chance to do this with a short 101-style guide that will get you set up and searching in no time.

In this post, we'll cover:

  • Basic web searches
  • Setting your own web searches keywords
  • Alfred's fallback searches
  • Forcing specific searches

Basic searches

Alfred is great for launching applications on your desktop. But it's also great for helping you use the Internet much more quickly than if you were to manually click on a browser icon in your dock and only then start typing in your search.

Instead, just launch your Alfred with a simple keyboard shortcut (which you can set up in Preferences > General) and start your search with a specific keyword. If you want to search Google, start with "google" followed by your desired search.

Similarly, you can search specific websites with the use of specific keywords, just as in the examples below: Gmail keyword

Amazon keyword

To find a complete list of the keywords that are currently available, just go to Preferences > Features, and tap Web Searches on the left side to have a look.

Web Searches preferences

Setting keywords

The keywords for your searches are fully customisable. If a different one makes more sense to you, or you're a speed wizard eager to shorten searching time even more, simply double click on the keyword you wish to change and then type in your new preferred change:

Setting your keywords

Which will then result in this:

Translate modified keyword

Now you're all set to be the fastest Internet user around.

Fallback searches

Sometimes, even Alfred gets confused about what you're asking him to do. In that case, he will try to guess, usually falling back on a number of general searches you might have in mind. Most often he'll resort to Google or Wikipedia. Admit it, you wanted the help anyway...

Fallback searches

Forcing specific searches

Ultimately, however, you are still the master and Alfred is here to serve you. That's why we've added the option to force a search option, no matter what Alfred thinks you're looking for. To set these up, go to Preferences > General > Results and choose what happens when you hit a certain key combination instead of simple return. In the example below, pressing alt + return will always result in a Google search:

forcing a Google search

Underneath, I want to search for the word "Dropbox" on the Internet/locally/etc. and not actually open the application. I'd therefore simply type in the word and hit alt + return, which would then perform a general web search for me.

Dropbox search

This wraps up the first Alfred guide. Many more coming soon.

Latest Blog Post: Alfred 2.8.1 Released: Compatibility improvements for OS X El Capitan and performance enhancements
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