Alfred, 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 ⌥