I have been a long time user of Quicksilver but lately it has been crashing once or twice a day during normal usage and was really slow to load at startup and to refresh its index. I didn’t really start having any issues with Quicksilver until I upgraded to Snow Leopard. It got better after the last update which provided better support for Snow Leopard but it still wasn’t as stable as I would like.
So I decided to give Alfred a try as soon as the beta was made available. There wasn’t much of a learning curve since I was able to setup it up to use the same hot keys that I had been using with Quicksilver. I also modified the default settings to hide the Alfred logo, toolbar icon, and chose the dark theme which made for a much cleaner look against my desktop background.
I primarily use Alfred to launch applications, open folders, search my local file system or the internet. To launch an app you simply start by typing the name of the app and Alfred will display a list of potential options as you type. To interact with files or perform searches you simply type in keywords to indicate your intent such as “open” to open files, “find” to search your file system, and “google” to search with google.
Here are some of the other keywords that are currently available:
- Web Searches: Amazon, eBay, Wiki, and IMDB
- Open Google Tools: Gmail, Docs, Reader, and Maps
- Search Engines: Google, Yahoo, Froogle, Images (for Google Images)
- Open or Search Social Networks: LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter
Alfred can also make a handy calculator, spell checker and word definition tool. It integrates with the native OSX calculator and dictionary applications to allow you to type “25+10”, “define” or “spell” to get the answer you are looking for.
Overall, my experience with Alfred so far has been very positive. My advice is if you are a current user of Quicksilver or you are in search of an application launcher then give Alfred a try. It’s free, fast and has an active development team behind it.