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Alfred 2.0 adds workflows, improves preferences, more

DNP Alfred 20 adds workflows, improves preferences, moreAlfred is one of my favorite Mac utilities (here's my review of version 1.0). After a long beta period, version 2.0 is now available. I've been using it throughout the beta period and I can say that it's a huge improvement over version 1.x. The new workflows are fantastic, the preferences are easier to use and better organized. Here's my look at Alfred V2.

Looks

Alfred's main interface is still a single input field, but now you can customize it more deeply than before. New theme options let you change the fonts, sizes and the height and width of the results window. You can even change the roundness of the corners.

Once in the theme editor, use a combination of mouse clicks and key combinations to affect different changes. Pop-up help text guides you through the process so it's easy. You can duplicate an existing theme if you want to use it as a starting point, or begin entirely from scratch.

And for the record, I like the Dark And Smooth theme.

Workflows

Let's talk about the big guns. Alfred 2's marquee feature is Workflows. Some people think of Alfred as a launcher. Workflows will change that for good.

Workflows let you combine a series of actions into a helpful sequence. You get your triggers, inputs, actions and then the outputs. What's nice is that it's entirely approachable. You needn't code a single thing, and the supplied templates and examples will get you started. A workflow can be simple or complex. Here are a couple of examples.

Every day I use a workflow called "paste to plain text." Occasionally I'd paste text into TextEdit to strip out the styling. Now I simply hit the hotkey combination I set up in Alfred -- Option-P -- and the contents of my clipboard are pasted as plain text.

One of the example workflows is called "Should I watch this movie?" Here's how it works. Launch Alfred, type "movie" and the the film's title. Hit Return, and Alfred opens the movie's IMDB page, its page on Rotten Tomatoes and its trailer on YouTube, all in separate tabs on your browser.

I also created a quick one that launches QuickTime Pro and begins a new audio recording, which is helpful when I'm podcasting.

There's so much you can do from fun to productive, from triggering AppleScripts to terminal commands. You can even share your work with others.

Other improvements

You can now have Alfred remember where you like its window to appear. You can also change the wallpaper that appears in the background of the theming preference pane. These little improvements stand out and make the experience very pleasant.

Conclusion

Alfred V2 is a great update. So how does pricing work? Alfred is a free download, and the Powerpack, which adds features, is paid. For upgrades, a single license to a mega license is £20. This been the case since the beginning of the beta. You can go from a single to v2 single for £10, and from a family license to v2 family license for £15.

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