Today, we released Alfred 3.1, which brings you new workflow objects, as well as tons of great performance improvements.
Three new workflows objects have been added; A "Hide Alfred" utility, and the "Dispatch Key Combo" and "Call External Trigger" output objects.
The "Call External Trigger" output is a powerful new output object which allows you to call a workflow trigger directly. This not only removes the need to use AppleScript to loop-back in a workflow, it gives the flexibility of passing through the current argument and stream variables. It also allows you to create callback-style functions from one workflow to another. Take a look at the new example in the Getting Started workflows collection in 3.1 to see this object in context.
The new "Dispatch Key Combo" output simulates a keypress in OS X as an output from a workflow.
We've also made significant performance improvements in many areas, giving you an even faster and more reliable experience. In particular, responsiveness has been improved when a Mac is under load, as well as making the Actions panel and Large Type snappier.
To find out more about the numerous other improvements in this release, take a look at the complete change log.
You can update to Alfred 3.1 from Alfred's Update preferences or by downloading it directly from alfredapp.com.
In June, Apple announced the next version of its Mac operating system was coming soon, and announced its new name: macOS.
In preparation for the public release of macOS Sierra, due in the autumn, we've released Alfred 3.0.3 and 2.8.6 to ensure compatibility with Apple's new requirements.
Alfred 3.0.3 bring improvements to workflows, including fixes to a few issues and the addition of a script environment variable (alfred_workflow_version) so that the version can be set in the workflow. It also includes improvements to Clipboard History and Snippets; speed and efficiency improvements, the ability to exclude snippets from the clipboard, and better support for non-standard applications.
You can take a look at the full change log for details.
For those who are still on Alfred 2, updating to the latest build will provide you with compatibility enhancements ahead of macOS Sierra too.
Don't forget: If you have an existing Powerpack license, you're eligible for a discounted upgrade to Alfred 3, so why not join the fun with Alfred 3?
Alfred 3.1 is already in the works, with some exciting new features ahead! Stay tuned, and follow us on Twitter (@alfredapp) for sneak peeks in the coming weeks! :)
When you start using Alfred regularly to launch apps and find files, you'll quickly find that Alfred presents you with the right results. But how can you ensure you always get what you want?
Alfred learns from your usage
Prefer using "s" to launch Spotify rather than Safari? Simply select Spotify a few times when typing "s" to teach Alfred this is the app you want to match.
No need for fancy steps; Alfred will learn, and the more you use him to launch your apps and files, the more he'll add to his knowledge.
Setting the right search scope
The next most important step to get the right result quickly is setting the scope of the results you want include in Alfred's search.
By default, when you type your search term with no prefix, Alfred's search scope includes Applications, Contacts and Preferences in the locations set in Features > Default Results.
I like to add folders to these results, and we offer a few additional file types you can add. To keep your results tidy, don't add all available file types; Just your essentials for types you'll need instantly.
Searching for files
To search for a broader set of files, including your images, PDFs, music and more, the spacebar is your friend.
To open a file, type "open" or press the spacebar, followed by the name of your file.
You'll see all the relevant results, and you may need to scroll down if there are a lot of results - Just use the arrows to keep navigating down the list. Press Enter to launch your file.
There are two other useful keywords; "find" will reveal the file in Finder instead of launching it and "in" will let you search for the content of files, such as text in a document.
Adding keywords as nicknames
Let's say the app you want to launch is Photos, but you keep calling it "iPhoto", out of habit or nostalgia for the old days.
Alfred can help you resolve this in a few ways:
1. Create a mini-workflow
You can create a simple workflow using Templates > Files and Apps > Launch file group from keyword or by creating your own blank workflow and connecting a keyword to a Launch Apps/Files object.
You can add multiple objects to this particular workflow, connecting each app you want to launch to its respective alternative keyword.
2. Add a Tag or Spotlight Comment
Why did I put this simple option second? OS X can require permissions to add tags & comments to System files, which can make it a little fiddlier.
However, using Tags to label your files can be a very powerful way to search for files. Our guide to using OS X tags for better search can help you make the most of tagging.
Creating custom file filters
We love file filters so much that we've included an example workflow to show you how smoothly they can help you find what you need.
To add it, click the [+] at the bottom of the Workflows preferences, and choose Examples > Dynamic File Search.
Type "ff" in Alfred to first select a search scope:
Then type the name of the file you're searching for within that folder:
You could even add an extra filter object to set the file types you want to search for.
This shows just how flexible Alfred's search is; Whether you just want to get the right app first, or dig out obscure files in the depths of your file system, your results are just a few keypresses away!
Take a look at the Tips and Tricks category for more ideas on how to make the most of Alfred.
If you used Alfred 2 to create your own workflows, you'll have adopted the new Alfred 3 workflow tools as easily as one slips in their favourite comfy slippers. But you may not have noticed that we've transformed them into jetpack-powered, laser-guided super-slippers!
Alfred 3 workflows are vastly more flexible. They include many new objects that allow you to do more without coding anything yourself, as well as features that make creation more efficient.
As you discover workflows and start creating your own, here are a few tips to help you make the most of them, whether the workflows are for your own use, for your team and friends or to share with the wider Alfred community.
1. Insert new objects before/after existing ones
Once you've added a few objects and connected together, the quickest way to add new objects is to right-click the object next to the one you want to add.
You can then insert before, after or even replace the selected object, saving you the hassle of manually re-connecting objects to each other.
2. Use colours to identify streams or outcomes
Another one of my favourite additions is the ability to colour-code workflows. Right-click to see the configuration menu and choose a colour for the selected objects.
While I sometimes add them just for fun, colours can also be helpful in identifying workflow streams, such as passing or failing when a script is run.
3. Copy objects or their configuration
Need to duplicate objects? Select as many objects as you like, and copy them with Cmd + C, then paste them somewhere else in the workflow, or in another workflow.
Alternatively, right-click an object and choose "Copy Configuration" (e.g. its keyword, text and settings), then right-click another object of the same type and choose "Paste Configuration".
4. Click the grid to show workflow in Finder
Each workflow object includes a little dotted grid next to the Cancel/Save button; Clicking this icon will open the workflow's folder in Finder, making it easy to add relevant icons, scripts or files to your workflow folder.
5. Add notes to objects
You can annotate any object to add useful information; What the object does, notes on improving your own workflow at a later date, tips to explain the workflow to other users.
To add a note, right-click an object and choose "Edit note".
6. Include a workflow introduction and version number
Hand in hand with annotating the workflow itself, you can now add an "About This Workflow" section, which will be shown to users who import your workflow. It's a good place to explain what it does, and highlight any special features of your workflow.
You can add a version number, as well as Workflow Environment Variables.
7. Use the ? for more info
Each workflow object (and every Alfred feature) has a question mark icon, so if you're looking for more information on using that particular object, click it to head to the help page for the object.
Don't forget to check out the Getting Started, Templates and Examples in the Workflows menu; You'll find lots of great ones to help you understand how you can make the most of workflows!
Over the past few weeks, it's been fantastic to hear how quickly Alfred 3's snippets expansion have become part of your daily productivity tools. From creating your own speedy email replies and signatures, to URL collections and funny emoji sets, the snippets are getting some great use!
Can you see the teal blue colour running through my usage graph every day? This hints at how much time and typing I've saved thanks to snippet auto-expansion (and more!) during the Alfred 3 release, using Alfred 1029 times on the day after release. Amazing, isn't it?
New to snippet auto-expansion?
Snippet auto-expansion is a Powerpack feature new to Alfred 3, and is an evolution of the existing Clipboard History and Snippets features we already loved in Alfred 2.
Expansion allows you to set a short keyword (in this case, !star), a title and the text you want to paste when using your short keyword.
To paste it, type the keyword, which is magically replaced by the full snippet. Whether you're saving your most frequently used sentences, greetings, addresses, URLs or silly emojis, it's a brilliant time saver.
Find out more about getting started with Snippet Auto-Expansion.
Tips For Better Snippet Expansion
To get the most out of the expansion feature, your keywords need to be memorable but shouldn't be triggered by mistake. Here are some ideas to help you set useful snippet keywords.
- Use non-word keywords to avoid unexpected expansion; Don't use the keyword date to paste the date, otherwise every time you try to type it's a date!, you'll find yourself saying it's a 01/06/16! as your snippet auto-expands.
- Start all your snippets with the same non-alphanumeric character, such as an exclamation mark, colon or semi-colon. (e.g. !office)
- Use unusual capitalisation (Alfred will respect the capitalisation you set, e.g. officE)
- Use double characters (e.g. ttime)
Using Snippets from the Viewer
There's no need to use auto-expansion for every snippet you've saved if they're used less frequently, as you can also access your Snippets through the Snippets Viewer just like you did in Alfred 2.
Works beautifully with Clipboard History
Copied something to your clipboard that you know you'll need to use frequently? While in the Clipboard Viewer, press Cmd + S to save it as a snippet. The text will be saved as snippet and you'll just need to add a snippet name and keyword, and pick which collection it belongs to.
Exciting Plans Ahead
Those who've been part of our community for a long time will know that we've always got something new planned. We're already scheming some great new improvements to the Alfred 3 features for the coming months.
If you're an existing Alfred Powerpack user, you are eligible for a discounted upgrade to Alfred 3, and if you're a new user, you can buy a Powerpack license to get started.
Keep an eye on our tweets and be sure to sign up to our newsletter (here in the page footer or in Alfred's General preferences tab) to find out about future updates and sneak previews!