Alfred

Try these 6 great utility and productivity apps for Mac

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Many apps can make using your MacBook or iMac even easier, as well as more productive.
Many apps can make using your MacBook or iMac even easier, as well as more productive.
Photo: Apple

Want more out of your Mac? These six suggestions for solid software are presented by our friends at SaaSGenius.

Though many of us associate the wide world of apps with our iPhones and iPads, they’re crucial for making the most of your MacBook or iMac, too. The best Mac apps can help you expand on your Mac’s capabilities in fun and interesting ways.

Macs are famously easy to use, but great apps make them even easier. And the right apps can jack up your productivity, too. Sometimes the only trouble is finding the best ones.

The list below covers some of our favorite apps to install on a new Mac. Some are free in the App Store (available in your Mac’s Dock or under the Apple menu at top left of your screen). Others you can download from developers’ websites.

Pro Tip: Use iOS Spotlight as a keyboard app launcher

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spotlight keyboard ap launcher
A spotlight helps find things.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Pro Tip Cult of Mac bugDid you know that you can use Spotlight on iOS as an app launcher? It works just like Launchbar or Alfred on the Mac. You just hit a keyboard shortcut and start typing, then hit enter to launch the app. If you have a wireless (or wired) keyboard attached to your iPad, you’re going to love this tip.

Indie productivity app Alfred refuses to let Apple steal its thunder

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Well, there goes Alfred.

That’s the first thought I had when I saw the new Spotlight in OS X Yosemite. I feared Apple had basically made my favorite little app launcher obsolete (we nerds call it “sherlocked”).

I was wrong.

It’s six months later, and Alfred is doing just fine, thanks largely to a vibrant community built around its power features, or workflows. Spotlight may be able to quickly launch an app from anywhere, but Alfred can tell the weather, eject attached hard drives, and control your Nest thermostat.

And now, after five years on the Mac, Alfred is making the leap to iOS with a new companion app called Alfred Remote. Released today, it’s not going to be useful for most people, but serious Alfred users will love it. If anything, it’s evidence that you can still build a great app and community around core features offered by Apple.

New LaunchBar proves Apple hasn’t killed app launchers yet

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App launchers on the Mac have always been geared toward power users, and lately tools like Alfred have become even more sophisticated, with user-created scripts and extensions. When Apple debuted the new Spotlight in OS X Yosemite at WWDC, it took many of the best features from existing launchers, like the ability to find any app you have installed with a couple keystrokes.

LaunchBar was the original app launcher on the Mac, and today a brand new version was released with a themable interface and new features.

Will tools like LaunchBar and Alfred live on when millions of Mac owners start using the new Spotlight this fall? Now that Apple has capitalized on the more consumer-friendly aspects of what makes a good launcher, third-party alternatives are going after power users like never before.

How To Easily Change The File Type Of A Folder Full Of Images [OS X Tips]

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Batch Processing Pixelmator

One of the things we get a lot here at Cult of Mac, especially in our coverage of games, is folders full of promotional images. Now, for a variety of reasons, we often need to change the type of those images from, say, PNG to JPG files.

You can use Preview, of course, opening them all at once, and then selecting them all, then exporting them all to a new folder with a new image type. It’s workable, but it’s tedious.

Using Pixelmator, an affordable image editing program for the Mac, Automator (no relation), a scripting app bundled in Mac OS X, and Alfred, a pretty slick app launching application, you can make these changes much faster.

Here’s how.

Escape Screen Sharing Via Alfred Or Quicksilver Using Command-Tab [OS X Tips]

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Alfred Screen Sharing

I use Apple’s built-in Screen Sharing app all the time to connect from my Macbook Air to my Mac Mini. It’s a great way to just quickly log in from the Air and restart a Minecraft server, for example, or get a screenshot of the latest OS X Mavericks beta feature.

I also use Command-Tab a lot on my Macbook Air to switch between running apps. However, I was never able to Command-Tab my way out of Screen Share, as the keyboard combination gets sent to the remote Mac Mini, keeping me fully in Screen Share Mode.

Until now.

Master Alfred 2.0 On Your Mac With These Five Tips And Tricks [Feature]

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Nice hat, Alfred!
Nice hat, Alfred!

If you haven’t been using Alfred, the amazing app launcher (and much more) on your Mac, you’ve been missing out. It started out as an app launcher, a la Quicksilver, but continued to get improvements and additions over time until now, version 2.0 can do a ton of things on your Mac, all with a quick hotkey press on the keyboard, including launching apps, issuing system commands, and more.

Here are five tips and tricks to getting the most out of Alfred 2.0, one of the best apps you can have on your Mac.

Mastering Alfred 2.0 On Your Mac: Store And Retrieve Everything In Your Clipboard History [OS X Tips]

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Alfred Clipboard Snippets

Alfred 2.0 is an amazing customizable app launcher, email sender, system commander that is free for the basic uses and only £15 for more advanced features in an Alfred add-on Powerpack.

One of these latter abilities lets you store and retrieve anything in your Mac’s clipboard history. Anything you’ve saved to the clipboard is accessible from within Alfred. Better yet, you can even store persistent snippets, turning Alfred into its own text expansion system.

Mastering Alfred 2.0 On Your Mac: Import Workflows For Crazy Custom Commands [OS X Tips]

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Workflow Import

Alfred has a ton of ways to make your Mac life more productive, like launching apps, commanding your OS X system, and even sending quick emails to your contacts. With the £15 Powerpack installed, Alfred lets you create incredibly detailed and complex customized commands using keywords, hotkeys, and actions, all within the app itself.

But if you’re like me, you’re not a huge fan of re-inventing the wheel. There’s a whole community of folks smarter than me who have made their own Workflows with Alfred and have exported these for everyone to download, import, and use with Alfred.

Let’s take a look at how you can grab some of the best of these, and get them working for you on your own Mac.

Mastering Alfred 2.0 On Your Mac: Send Quick Emails To Your Contacts [OS X Tips]

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Email To

By now you know that Alfred does a lot more than just launch apps, right? You can directly command your Mac OS X system from Alfred as well as launch stuff without ever taking your hands from the keyboard, the true power user position.

Did you also know you can send emails, with or without attachments, from Alfred as well? You need to purchase the £15 PowerPack (~$23 USD) to make it happen, unfortunately, but it seems like a pretty good price for such great functionality.

Mastering Alfred 2.0 On Your Mac: Directly Command Your System From The Keyboard [OS X Tips]

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Alfred System Commands

Alfred brings a number of joyful ways to work on your Mac, including launching apps and searching through files. It’s a true power-user’s friend, as it lets you interact with your Mac in all sorts of ways without removing your hands from the keyboard, saving you valuable time in the long run.

Did you know, though, that you can also control many system functions on your Mac with Alfred? Here’s how.

Mastering Alfred 2.0 On Your Mac: Quickly Launch Apps With A Hotkey [OS X Tips]

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Alfred Preferences

If you haven’t been using Alfred, the amazing app launcher (and much more) on your Mac, you’ve been missing out. It started out as an app launcher, a la Quicksilver, but continued to get improvements and additions over time until now, version 2.0 can do a ton of things on your Mac, all with a quick hotkey press on the keyboard.

Let’s take a look at one of the most basic things Alfred can do for you: launching apps. Once you’ve upgraded to or downloaded Alfred version 2, you can import your version 1 settings, and be ready to roll.

The One Mac App You Should Install Right Now On Our All-New CultCast

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Look, every once in a while a Mac app comes along that’s so incredibly useful, it becomes one of those rare staple apps no Mac should go without. On this week’s CultCast, we’ll introduce you to the incredibly talented Alfred, and reveal all the time-saving totally amazing feats this little bit of code can perform for you.

Plus! Word on the streets is T-Mobile’s getting the iPhone and their new plans could give the industry a shake down. We’ll tell you the pros and cons of big T’s contract free “uncarrier” plans and explain what makes them different from the pack.

All that and more on this episode of the CultCast! Subscribe now on iTunes to download our new episodes or just hit play below.

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Great Workflows To Help You Get More Done With Alfred 2.0 [Feature]

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There's a lot you can do with this tiny launch bar.
There's a lot you can do with this tiny launch bar.

Alfred is a great shortcut and productivity tool for the Mac that received a huge update last week. In case you don’t know, Alfred allows you to quickly perform tasks with a series of keyboard shortcuts. If you’ve used similar tools like Quicksilver or LaunchBar, then you already have an understanding of how Alfred fundamentally works.

Over the past couple of years, Alfred has matured from a little app launcher into a full-fleged base station for getting things done on the Mac. Alfred 2.0 is a huge step forward with additional features like customizable themes, but the biggest addition is undoubtedly workflows. You can, for instance, hit a keyboard shortcut, type in the name of a new movie, and have related browser windows from IMDB, YouTube and Rotten Tomatoes instantly pop up.

Alfred has built up a community of users who have created some pretty cool Alfred 2.0 workflows you can download and use for free. Whether you’re a coder or a complete novice, it’s easy to get started with workflows and take control of your Mac.

Alfred 2.0 Will Have Powerful New “Workflows” For Creating Complex Searches On Your Mac

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Alfred app

Alfred is a beloved and widely-used keyboard shortcut utility for the Mac. It can do everything from launch an app in three keystrokes to quickly eject an attached disk.

Fans will be happy hear that Alfred 2.0 is in the works, and soon a completely new version of the app will be released with loads of shiny features. Private betas will be sent out in early 2013, and the folks at Alfred have already started teasing version 2.0.

Alfred For Mac Updated With Quick Look Integration, File Buffer, Other Improvements

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The "compact view" in Alfred 1.3 looks great on the MacBook Pro with Retina display.

Popular keyboard shortcut launcher Alfred has been updated with several new features and improvements. Version 1.3 of Alfred for Mac integrates with Apple’s Quick Look in OS X to let you see previews of files inside Alfred. A neat feature called file buffer gives you quick access to app and file placeholders above Alfred’s main search window.

The developers of Alfred have also added numerous other improvements and bug fixes in this 1.3 update. We’ve got the full change log.

Cult Of Mac’s Best Of 2011 Awards

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2011’s been the best year yet to be an Apple fan, absolutely flush with exciting new apps, products and accessories. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been letting you vote on the best Apple-related games, apps, accessories and products of the year, and we’ve come up with some truly fantastic finalists. Now it’s time to declare the best of each category: best Mac App, best iOS game, best iOS app, best jailbreak tweak, best Apple product accessory and best Apple product. As we all know from Highlander, there can be only one… but did your favorite app or product of the year get beheaded in our finalist rounds? Find out Cult of Mac’s picks for the best of Apple for 2011, after the jump.