Alfred 2Alfred, one of my favourite productivity apps for the Mac just saw a major upgrade. Alfred 2 is a complete redesign of the app that includes numerous enhancements as well as a major new feature called Workflows.

Among other things, Workflows can be used to assign keyboard shortcuts to frequently accessed applications, folders, websites, web searches and system commands. As a general rule, it’s much faster to control your Mac using the keyboard than it is using the mouse or trackpad. Setting up and learning keyboard shortcuts takes a little investment in time, and it’s an investment that quickly starts to pay dividends.

The main challenges people have when it comes to hotkeys are:

Keyboard Conflicts — Hotkeys must be chosen careful to prevent conflicts with the hotkeys that come with the apps you use as well as system-level hotkeys. The key (pardon the pun) is to choose keyboard combinations that are unlikely to already be defined elsewhere.

Remembering Hotkeys — It can also be a challenge to remember a long list of hotkeys. One solution is to use standard conventions when assigning hotkeys and to use these hotkeys regularly so that they become ingrained. In many cases, using the hotkeys consistently for a few days is all it takes to develop the muscle memory that makes using them automatic.

The following video introduces recommended conventions and walks you through the process of defining hotkeys in Alfred 2. Please note that you’ll need to purchase the Alfred PowerPack before proceeding as the Workflows feature is not available in the free version of Alfred.

Alfred Hotkey Conventions

The conventions referenced in the video are:

Launch Application: ⌃ + ⇧ + key
e.g. ⌃ + ⇧ + T to launch TextEdit

Open Folder: ⌃ + ⌥ + key
e.g. ⌃ + ⌥ + C to open Clients folder

Open Website: ⌥ + ⇧ + key
e.g. ⌥ + ⇧ + L to open LinkedIn website

System Action: ⌃ + ⌥ + ⌘ + key
e.g. ⌃ + ⌥ + ⌘ + ⌦ to empty trash

Web Search: ⌃ + ⌥ + ⌘ + key
e.g. ⌃ + ⌥ + ⌘ + G to search Google

Show Clipboard History: Double-tap ⌘

Show Documents Folder: Double-tap ⌃

Show Desktop Folder: Double-tap ⌥

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16 Responses to Alfred 2 Hotkeys Screencast

  1. Brett Nord says:

    Thank you for creating this screencast. Very helpful to see you walk through the steps of creating workflows that I tend to do often! This will make it much smoother. Good work.

  2. […] TechnicallySimple: Alfred 2 Hotkeys Screencast […]

  3. Michael Aaron says:

    Great job on this, Tim! Really useful stuff.
    Do you have a link to download these workflows (if we are ok with doing it exactly as you do)?

    • Tim Stringer says:

      Thanks Michael! I thought about including a link to the workflows, but given that everyone’s folder structure, apps, favourite websites, etc. vary so much I didn’t think it would be that useful overall.

  4. jimmy says:

    Great info in here! I was a big Quicksilver user and switched to Alfred last year. This update gets me a little closer!

    (one little nag – please get a shock mount for your mic or put your mic stand on a towel so we don’t hear every trackpad click through the mic. It can be very distracting.)

    • Tim Stringer says:

      Glad to hear this was useful, Jimmy! And point well taken on the clicking sound. I’ll address this in the next screencast I record.

  5. cantab says:

    The icons for your workflow looks awesome. Where can I get them?

  6. Timm says:

    Hi Tim, thanks a million for this, very useful!

    One comment: I think it makes sense to check the ‘toggle visibility for apps’ box for the app hotkeys. In case people miss it on their screens while configuring those.

    Thanks again, this really helped me a lot, I transferred a lot of stuff directly, but also re-did a workflow I had because you made me aware of a built-in feature.


    • Tim Stringer says:

      Glad to hear you found this useful Timm…and thanks for the mention on your blog! Interesting idea to use the hotkey to toggle visibility if the app is in the foreground. My personal preference is for the hotkey not to do anything if the app is already in the foreground and to use ⌘+H to hide the app.

      • Timm says:

        True, that works as well. But with one disadvantage: If there’s an app in fullscreen, ⌘+H doesn’t bring you back to the desktop you were on before. With ‘toggle visibility’ enabled, the app shortcut does. I find that very useful for peeking at Reeder for example, that’s sitting in fullscreen around all day.

        And also without that, this ‘peeking’ aspect works nicer with pressing the same shortcut twice instead of using one for launching and another one for hiding.

  7. […] TechnicallySimple: Alfred 2 Hotkeys Screencast […]

  8. […] you’ve watched my Alfred 2 Hotkeys screencast, you know that I’m a big fan of shortcut keys. I maintain that it’s a good idea to […]

  9. Mike Stok says:

    Thanks for this screencast, it gave me the push I needed to buy the Alfred Power Pack and make Alfred a load more useful to me.

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