Sep
21
2010

Why I Ditched Spotlight for Alfred

Posted by at

Cody reviewed Alfred app for Mac when it first came out in March, but I didn’t really care about the application back then. I was a regular and happy Spotlight user who didn’t need to install a new tool to search my Mac faster. Then something happened over the past months: I started storing lots of files in my Dropbox.

Thanks to some referral codes I threw out there and the awesome people who signed up through them, I got almost 10GB of free file storage in the cloud. Basically, I had a new filesystem accessible from anywhere I installed an instance of Dropbox. I started re-thinking my Mac setup, and I went for a “let’s store anything in Dropbox” simple policy.

Spotlight started acting weird on me, or maybe it just couldn’t keep up with my workflow anymore. It used to be fast and gave me instant results, it became slow, clunky and unreliable. My Mac is just fine, Spotlight just doesn’t help me finding stuff the way it used to do. Moreover, I felt that I needed something that would allow me not only to search locally: I want the application launcher to be smart and allow me to either look for something already on my machine (files, folders) or on the web. So I installed Alfred and replaced the default CMD+Space shortcut.

Alfred is lightweight and fast. It takes seconds to install and search results are literally instant as you type. Looks like it’s a trend these days. The application is smart enough to understand in a few keystrokes whether you’re looking for a file in the Finder or not, and lookup on Google or Wikipedia opens a new tab in your default browser. If I need a quick word definition, I type “define” and the definition I need shows up in Dictionary.app.

The Powerpack (still in development) lets you navigate the file system using your keyboard and play songs from iTunes using the built-in Mini Player. No need to use iTunes, you just fire up Alfred as you normally would. I can’t wait for the Powerpack to add Applescript and Clipboard capabilities.

Back to Dropbox, though, the best thing about Alfred it that it retrieves folders inside it instantly. I have lots of folders and subfolders in Dropbox, and Spotlight takes 5 seconds to find one. Alfred is faster, and it never gives me a spin-wheel. It almost feels as Alfred is the young guy running miles and miles without getting tired, and Spotlight is the creepy old man trying to find his way across the system.

I’m sorry, Spotlight. Alfred is working so much better here.

• You should follow the author on Twitter here.

Tags:mac, os x