So far, my favorite free launchers for Mac are QuickSilver and Google’s Quick Search Box (QSB). While both have their own differences and pluses and minuses, they are siblings which come from the same source.
But now there’s a new alternative to Quicksilver on the field. The name’s Alfred.
The Butler In The Background
Everytime I hear the name Alfred, my mind goes straight to the image of the English butler of Marlinspike Hall that I read in the pages of Tintin. My wild guess is, that might be the same image that the developers of this app have after finding out that the name “Butler” had been taken by another Mac app.
Anyway, if you are willing to give this new assistant a look, you can visit the site and download the app. After a short installation, you’ll have a hat sitting on your menubar. You can access the Preferences from that hat.
Activating the basic functionality of Alfred requires you to hit a combination of keystrokes. By default it is “Option + Spacebar“, but you can change it to anything you like.
The first thing that will greet you upon installation is the Preferences window. This is basically the place where the developer asks the users to help the development process of this app by reporting bugs and requesting new features.
But there are more things that you can customize via the Preferences window. Let’s look at some of them.
Defining The Butler’s Tasks
Let’s start with the “General” tab. The “Essential” part lets users customize the key combination to summon Alfred.
The “Result” area deals with other shortcuts that you can use to further utilize Alfred. For example, if you go with the default setting, hitting Control + Return after opening Alfred will open a search window in Finder.
And the “Updates” area is for, well, updates. Users can also access the update checking functionality from the menubar icon.
Similar to the General tab, the “Local” tab also has three areas. They deal with the behavior of Alfred’s local searches. The areas are: Default Search, File Search and Search Scope.
The “Web” tab consists of links to websites accessible from Alfred along with their keywords. Users can edit the keywords simply by clicking on them and typing in the new ones.
These sites will be accessible from Alfred by typing in the keywords. This functionality is similar to Quix, but without the need of a browser.
Users can also add more sites to the list by going to the “Custom Sites” area and clicking on the “plus” sign. Write down the URL, text to display, and the keyword. Then click “Add”
The “Appearance” tab deals with matters related to Alfred’s look, the way it acts and the number of result items to show.
And last but not the least, the “Experimental” tab. As the name already tells us, the tab consists of experimental items that might be turned into regular items in the future.
More Butler For The Bread
There you go, a quick look inside the Preferences of the new launcher for Mac – an alternative to Quicksilver. We’ll dig deeper into how Alfred works and what it can do in the next discussion.
Until then, feel free to try and play along with Alfred and share your thoughts and opinions about the app using the comments below.
Editor’s note: We’re giving away 10 copies of Hazel for Mac. You might want to check it out.