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alternative to quicksilverIf there’s one kind of application that I can’t live without, it would be an application launcher. The comfort of opening applications/files with only a few keystrokes has made it hard for the keyboard guy like me to do it any other way.

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.


alternative to quicksilver

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.

alternative to quicksilver

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.

quicksilver alternative

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.

quicksilver alternative

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.

quicksilver alternative

And the “Updates” area is for, well, updates. Users can also access the update checking functionality from the menubar icon.

02c Alfred Preferences - General - Updates.jpg

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.

03b Alfred Preferences.jpg

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.

04a Alfred Preferences.jpg

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

04b Alfred Preferences.jpg

The “Appearance” tab deals with matters related to Alfred’s look, the way it acts and the number of result items to show.

05 Alfred Preferences.jpg

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.

06 Alfred Preferences.jpg

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.

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  1. Don Parr
    June 11, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    I was a die-hard Quicksilver fan(atic) up until Alcor (Nicholas Jitkoff) decided to move on to Google Quick Search box, which is what I moved to since Alcor was no longer developing Quicksilver. Then along came Alfred, and I haven't looked back. I use it to open files, apps, do web searches, initiate word definitions, and perform basic math calculations. The word I would use to describe Alfred and the developer's vision for its future is AWESOME! Now I'm a certified Alfred fan(atic) :).