How you use Alfred: Balthazar Simões, Campaign Monitor

In this series, we are taking a look at how some users have adopted Alfred in their workplace. They'll give us a glimpse of how they use Alfred, how they stay productive and what it's like working for some of the companies we know and love.

Here, Balthazar Simões from Campaign Monitor, shares how he uses Alfred while working with his very international team!

Who you are? What keeps you busy?

Balthazar and Ramona I’m the team lead for the North American support team at Campaign Monitor and I work remotely from Brooklyn, NY where I live with my wife and puppy, Ramona.

My days are filled with managing our support queue, making sure our support folks have what they need, and solving problems for our awesome customers (like you!).

How long have you been using Alfred?

Wow, maybe 2 years now? It’s hard to think of how I got by before Alfred! There’s no going back now.

What aspects of Alfred make your workday more productive?

Alfred is like the perfect waiter: it waits there out of the way until just when you need it and then it appears, as if anticipating your every need. I don’t need to think about using Alfred; I don’t need to worry about it crashing or not working. Alfred simply does what I ask and then politely steps aside.

There is simply no other app that allows me to do stuff so easily and effortlessly.

Are there workflows you’ve created or imported that you’d recommend?

Discovering workflows came way too late for me, but it has changed everything. Alfred was completely wonderful and indispensable before I dug into workflows, but it has taken things to a whole new level now. I began by creating a workflow to get my work day started.

I have Alfred open some apps (HipChat, iA Writer, etc) and open a whole bunch of tabs in Chrome. There are so many things I need to check in the morning and it was way too easy to forget one or two before this; now I press a couple keys and know that my day is off to a good start.

I have a lot of workflows from other people that I’ve installed and here are a couple simple ones that I use a lot:

Trash downloads: Working in support my downloads folder fills up every day with screenshots and files. Now I can keep my downloads folder nice and clean.

TimeZone: At Campaign Monitor I have colleagues all over the world. From Sydney to San Francisco to the UK it can be tough to know if it would be a good time to talk with someone or if they might be cozy in bed or done for the day. Now I can quickly check the time for other timezones. At the time of writing it’s 1:32 AM in Sydney so I suppose I’ll hold off on pinging Mat on HipChat…

What’s the first feature you show off when you introduce a friend or colleague to Alfred?

To really wow someone, I bring out the workflows. Showing someone that I can press ⌘ + ⇧ + C and a whole bunch of tabs and apps open up in an instant usually gets their attention. I like to show off the clipboard history as well because that little gem has saved me so much time and saves me a lot of worry.

In April, the US remote team had a meetup in New Orleans (what a treat that was!) and I presented on Alfred and how I use it to get things done. A few people already used Alfred, but no one knew about workflows or some of the other features of Alfred that have become essential to me. The whole team is up and running with Alfred now and loving it.

Thanks Balthazar for answering questions and giving us insight into your team life! We <3 Campaign Monitor!

The Tools We Use: CacheFly's content distribution network

We're often asked what tools we use everyday for creating and managing Alfred, so we'll share a few of our favourite tools and services in this post series.

A few years ago, we started using CacheFly as our CDN, or content delivery network. It's pretty simple, with a CDN, our Alfred resources are copied to servers in useful locations around the world so that when you click the download button, not only is Alfred's update located physically closer to you (so it's less likely to be affected by online traffic), it also has high availability.

CacheFly has 100% availability SLA – it doesn't really get any better than that!

CacheFly map

We use CacheFly to host quite a few resources, including the Alfred download zip, website resources, images for emails, the auto update xml and online help files. What's more, all of these resources are already being distributed using https on a subdomain of Alfred which means no changes are needed when we migrate our websites to https in the next few weeks.

Previously, CacheFly offered subscription plans at fixed prices, but we've heard that they've started offering a Pay-As-You-Go service with no contracts. [This isn't an affiliate link or an advert, it's just because we've loved using them!]

So if you've been toying around with the idea of hosting your content on a CDN, this would be a great time to try out CacheFly.

How You Use Alfred: James Bull, Design Lead at Shopify

In this series, we are taking a look at how some users have adopted Alfred in their workplace. They'll give us a glimpse of how they use Alfred, how they stay productive and what it's like working for some of the companies we know and love.

Here, James Bull from Shopify, shares how he gets stuff done with the help of Alfred workflows!

James Bull, Shopify

Who you are? What keeps you busy?

Oh hey there! I'm James, a Design Lead at Shopify in Ottawa, ON. All kinds of things are keeping me busy these days, one of my favourites is pushing our design team to do the amazing work they do at Shopify.

We’ve been working really hard to make a commerce platform that’s beautiful and easy to use. The team never ceases to amaze me, whether its new interaction patterns on our mobile POS apps, or rethinking how our web admin looks and functions. You can check out what the team is up to on Dribbble.

How long have you been using Alfred?

It’s gotta be 3 years, or possibly more. I started out with the un-paid version, but it wasn’t long before I upgraded with the Powerpack and got all the amazing features that come with it. Custom workflows FTW!

What aspects of Alfred make your workday easier, smoother, more productive, etc?

It's crazy to think, but I probably use Alfred 100x or more in my day. The custom workflows, web searches, clipboard history, file search, app launcher, preference syncing, spell check, dictionary support, and more make it so damn useful.

When OS X Yosemite launched last year with an improved Spotlight, I thought I’d test it out. Apple touted it as the enhanced app launcher we’ve all been waiting for. Spotlight lasted a whole 32 minutes before switching back to Alfred.

Are there workflows you’ve created or imported that you’d suggest/recommend?

I thought you’d never ask. The most powerful feature for me are the custom workflows, and being able to configure them with our internal tools at Shopify. Most of it involves searching our internal wiki and platform documentation, but the potential is limitless. Here are a few of my favourites:

Dev Doctor: a fantastic developer documentation workflow, easily look up css and js documentation with a few keyboard strokes

OS X Toolbox: a workflow to perform common system tasks, hiding/unhiding system files, relaunching finder, things like that

GIF & Dropbox Workflow: a little outdated, but can be manually updated and tweaked to work really well. you’ll be a Slack superstar in no time.

James Van Der Meme: a gif workflow based off the James Van Der Meme Tumblr

Foursquare & Yelp Search: great to settle office lunch debates

Water Theme: A great theme from James Bryant

I recently discovered Packal as well, so I’ll be cruising the categories for my next favourite workflow!

Thanks James for sharing your favourite workflows and tips with us!

Alfred 2.7.1 Released: A quick fix and a bonus feature!

We pride ourselves on new releases that are not only feature-filled but also stable and bug-free. In yesterday's release, a small issue slipped in that affected Python-based workflows specifically. As such, we're putting out a little update today to ensure that anyone using these workflows can continue to have a pleasant, smooth experience.

This release also gives you a chance to see the new update notifier, which you'll see as a little tab in the bottom left of Alfred's box. The feedback we've had so far from you is that you're as happy as we are with this new way of letting you know that there's a new Alfred update. It's a much more subtle way to be notified!

Alfred Update tab

Bonus feature: Search & sort your URL History

Did you know that Alfred can remember the URLs you've pasted in, for easy access later? You can enable this feature in Alfred's preferences under Features > Web Search > URLs / History.

While this feature has existed for a long time, we've sneaked in a super useful improvement in this release; You can now search and sort your URL history, making it even easier to locate websites you previously opened via Alfred to make it easier to remove results.

To search, use the search box to filter down your results. To sort, click on the URL or Last Accessed column header to re-organise the results.

Once you've found the URL you want, select it and hit backspace to remove a single URL, or press the minus symbol that will appear in the bottom right.

Search and sort URL history

Take a look at the change log for more detailed release notes.

Alfred 2.7 Released: New Remote features, new update notifier and more

Since Alfred Remote was released in late January, you've been creating fantastic Remote pages and workflows. In this new release, we've given lots of love to Alfred Remote and workflows, making some great additions to give you even more room to be creative.

We've highlighted a few of our favourite new features and improvements in this post, or you can take a look at the change log for the full list of changes in 2.7.

New features for Alfred Remote

You can now easily dispatch key combos from your Remote. For example, create a Remote action for global actions like Hide and Minimise so that you no longer have to remember the hotkeys.

Even better, if you use specialist software with complicated or awkward key combos, you can create a whole page for this app's hotkeys!

dispatch key combos

If you connect your Remote to multiple Macs, we've added the ability to selectively hide pages. As a result, pages you've created to use on your work Mac can be hidden when you connect your Remote to your home Mac, or vice versa. Just right-click the page and choose "Hide from this Mac". From this same menu or by right-clicking on an action, you can also reset any item icons and labels you've changed back to their defaults.

hidefromthismac

In the list of actions available for Remote, we've added the OS X Preference panels, so that you can get to any of the preferences you need to access quickly.

Workflow improvements

We've made a number of improvements to workflows, making it easier for our wonderful community of workflow creators to bring their ideas to life. Amongst these, we've added flexibility to allow workflow "Run Script" actions and outputs to run concurrently or sequentially, improved reliability for keyboard layout changes and added useful defaults for script queries.

A new update notifier

We've changed Alfred's update notifier so that you no longer get a pop-up on your screen - which was sometimes inconvenient if you were in the middle of a presentation or task, and the timing wasn't right to update.

Now, Alfred will instead show you that an update is available by adding a little tab to the bottom left of your search box. You'll be able to carry on with your work until you're ready to update.

Update notification

As ever, Alfred remains lightning quick and very lightweight, so once you click the update notification, you'll be up and running with the latest version in three seconds flat!

Latest Blog Post: 3 Ways to Use OS X Tags for Better Search
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