The Dock on your Mac is a launcher. Ditto for the new Launchpad in Mac OS X Lion. That brings the app launcher from iPhone and iPad to the Mac. Some Mac users swear by Spotlight as a launcher (good for hands that never leave the keyboard). Others prefer Quicksilver or DragThing. The former is for power users, the latter is for the rest of us still living in 1999. My quest to achieve app launch nirvana means there’s a need to Think Different™. That means Alfred.
Alfred The Launcher Does More
The whole idea of an app launcher is to save time, be more productive. The Dock is acceptable but gets overcrowded and requires pruning and management. Launchpad is too Fisher Price for me.
Alfred was a recommendation by a Mac360 reader. It’s more of a productivity app, geared for the almost-power user who needs more than the Dock, and less than Quicksilver.
I set Alfred to pop up onscreen with a keystroke combo. Here’s what it looks like doing a search of Mac on my Mac.
Aflred loads information as fast as you type. Setup is complex, but highly customizable.
The Basic configurations can be set as defaults. Specific configurations include adding accessories like calculator, dictionary, Mail, Address Book, even iTunes. All can be summoned with keystrokes.
Even Albert’s basic appearance and actions can be configured. There are three themes. You can hide Alfred’s hat (recommended). Hide the Menubar icon. Even change the number of visible result items.
There’s a Preference option to display your usage. Alfred has optional PowerPacks which add more functionality beyond the basics, including search filters, custom commands, shell scripts, AppleScript, more themes, and more.
If Quicksilver is way too geeky heavy, and DragThing is too gaudy and bulky, Alfred might be the everything Spotlight-like launcher and search app that fits in between. It’s useful without the PowerPack and free.