Alfred 4 is Out, and I did something crazy

Alfred 4 is Out, and I did something crazy

Alfred 4

I just saw this somewhere else. Alfred has been a #1 power tool for me in the last year. Combine this with Keyboard Maestro and you have some serious automation power on your hands. Needless to say the Alfred 4 upgrade was a no-brainer expense.

Something I’ve been considering for some time is ditching TextExpander. I’ve often found myself frustrated at the constant need to restart the application just to re-enable snipped expansion after some secure field shuts it down and doesn’t release the lock. It was causing enough friction to where I almost quit using text expansion at all.

Text expansion is a feature in Keyboard Maestro, but if you didn’t know, it’s also a feature inside of Alfred, too!

So… I cancelled my TextExpander subscription and moved all my snippets into Alfred!

This move made sense as I don’t use much of the extensive features in TE like form-filling.

I just wanted to throw this out there as a big change. Alfred’s one of my favorite apps and so I’m glad to try using it more.


I still use a lot of text expansions on iOS. I wish Alfred made an expansion keyboard for iOS too. I’ve tried to use regular text snippets built-in to macOS and iOS but they are finicky and don’t work in every app in macOS. :man_shrugging:t2: So for now I’m stuck with TextExpander.

That’s actually the major reason I could even think about this workflow – I don’t hardly do any text expansion on iOS. My phone is as bare-bones as it can be, and I don’t use my iPad :flushed:

Alfred 4 looks like a great update!

It wouldn’t replace TextExpander for me as I use quite a few of TE’s advanced features (including forms) and often expand my snippets on iOS.

I used to be an avid Alfred user…but switched to LaunchBar a few years back. The key feature that’s missing for me in Alfred is “Instant Send”. In LaunchBar, I can double-tap the shift key with something selected (e.g. some text in an email or a file in the Finder) and use this as an input to a LaunchBar search or action (e.g. use the selected text for an IMDB search or open the selected image file using Acorn).

Doesn’t anybody know if this is possible in Alfred? I tried creating a workflow that duplicated the Instant Send behaviour, but no luck so far.

p.s. Keyboard Maestro is fabulous as well. I’ve been using it for many years…and continue to find new uses.

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I’ll have to look into this, as it seems like a really neat feature.

Thanks, Justin. If this or something similar could be implemented in Alfred I may make the switch.

One feature I miss from my Alfred days is being able to sync settings between Macs. This isn’t something that LaunchBar has ever supported (to my knowledge).

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Pretty sure this is supported in Alfred. I have Double OPT set to open Alfred with what’s selected. I believe it only works with files in Finder though.

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Good to hear this work with files.

I use Instant Send a lot for select text in LaunchBar (probably more so than for files) - for example, selecting an address and sending it to a Google Maps search, looking up a book in Goodreads, searching for a user in my WordPress site (via a custom search), the list goes on. It’s really convenient.

p.s. I contacted the folks at Alfred to see if this is possible. I’ll post an update here when I hear back.


In Preferences > File Search, I can choose the hot key at the bottom of the screen. In this instance, I can select a bunch of files and hit control-` to send to Afred.

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Thanks for sharing, Wilson. It looks like Alfred can handle file actions as well as LaunchBar.

Do you know if there’s an easy way to select text in an app and use this text as the input to an Alfred search…without having to do any copying and pasting?

On LaunchBar, I can select some text in virtually any app, trigger InstantSend with the keyboard (double-pressing shift in my case), and then press tab to send it off to any built-in or custom search (or anything else that takes text as an input). I haven’t found a way to do this in Alfred yet…and suspect that it’s not currently possible.

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Looks like this may be possible with a workflow.

Thanks for the link, Justin.

What I’m trying to determine is whether or not its possible to create a workflow that feeds text into Alfred, without being associated with a specific service (e.g. Google). I contact Andrew Pepperrell (the developer for Alfred) to see if he has any suggestions. It sounds like this may end up becoming a feature request.

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Is there anything that Alfred does that would make you want to switch from LaunchBar? If Launchbar is working for you, I don’t know of a compelling reason to switch.

I haven’t dived deep into the new Alfred 4 release notes yet. I’m not sure what would be the reason to change.

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Probably the most compelling reason for switching is that, unlike LaunchBar, Alfred syncs settings across multiple Macs. I use quite a few custom searches…and manually recreating them or copying them across multiple Macs can get pretty tedious.


FWIW in LaunchBar you can even cut out the tab and enter keys in this equation:

  • Even though the tab key makes sense with muscle memory, it isn’t necessary with Instant Send – you can just start typing the name of the destination
  • The long-press trick lets you skip enter. (By holding the last character of a LaunchBar item’s abbreviation, you trigger the default action – effectively doing the same thing the enter key would. Since g is my LaunchBar abbreviation for Google, I can just do shift shift g (holding the g for a bit longer) to instant send to Google. My IMDB search shortcut only comes up after three letters, so I could type shift shift i m d – and long-press on the d, to trigger that search. In reality, I don’t really use the long-press trick because it’s nice to have a split second to mentally verify the action before hitting enter.)

One other LaunchBar tip for keystroke misers: opt-shift-a lets you assign any shortcut to any item in the index. I use this to, say, map to the shortcut ocr, since I never remember the name of the app but it’s useful for doing OCR.

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Thanks for posting, @dbyler! I didn’t know that about LaunchBar — very neat feature to optimize and minimize typing.

Great tips. Thanks @dbyler!

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