Using Alfred for Company & Developer Productivity

The first in a multi-part series on productivity

by Kelly Packer

I have a confession. I binge on shortcuts. I resolve to be more productive, try to absorb all the things at once, and then promptly never use them again. While binging is wholly awesome if I have a weekend to kill and need to start on season 2 of Gossip Girl (xoxo), it's not great for memory retention. So this is the year. The year of productivity. Slowly, but steadily I will add to my repertoire of efficient efficiencies. And I will document them in blog posts. Come along with me on this journey to do more with less. Your fingers and brain will thank you.

Part 1: Alfred Workflows

I've been using Alfred since it was released in 2010. For many years I only used it to open applications (command-space) and as a calculator. This functionality alone is worth the install, but it always felt like I was squandering its untapped potential. About a year ago, I adopted another Alfred feature into my workflow: clipboard history (command-option-c). Productivity breakthrough! I had tried other apps dedicated to this purpose, but they never stuck. Clipboard history has eliminated so much repetition and has freed my brain from the staccato mind-flow of back-tracking. I decided to track down a few more Alfred features I could fold into everyday use.

Quick tip: The Alfred clipboard history search accepts SQL LIKE patterns, e.g., Fo%de would match Foster Made. Thanks Jonathan Cox.

I installed all the following workflows using Alfred 3 on MacOS Sierra. Alfred is free, but to unlock most of the features you will want, purchase the Powerpack. It's reasonably priced and well worth it. Plus I always like to support developers and their hard work. To install a new workflow, simply download it and double-click to install it.

Company Tool Workflows

We use a number of tools at Foster Made throughout the day for collaboration and other business-related tasks. Here are a few workflows that help with these daily tasks.


We use Harvest for time-tracking and thankfully, there is a workflow for that (alfred-harvest on GitHub). After you double-click on the workflow to import it, type hv setup in Alfred. It will walk you through the setup process. After that hv triggers the actions you can run like starting and stopping timers and adding notes.


Recently we switched from Skype to Slack and there is a workflow for that called slackfred. After installation, the workflow needs to be setup via the slt keyword and pasting in a Slack token.

Note for Sierra users: After installing the slackfred workflow, you will need to install the fixum workflow. Then run fixum in Alfred to update the slackfred workflow to work in Sierra. Then type slt plus token to complete the setup.

Slackfred has a number of actions that can be triggered, from sending messages to a channel to searching for files. Some of the actions, like leaving or joining channels, I don't do enough to burn the keyword command into my brain. Also it's not namespaced like the Harvest workflow so you can't bring up a list of all the actions, but they do all start with 'sl'. The action I use the most is slp away or slp auto to toggle my presence. Now if I can only remember to set myself back to 'active' after lunch...

An action that I think I would use, but isn't included in the workflow is to DM a user. But that is the beauty of open-source, I could add that (assuming the API handled this functionality). However, I do find there is a point of diminishing returns with shortcut tasks. If it's not an easy shortcut and something I do frequently, toggling over to the application and performing the task is the easier road.

Developer Workflows

Here are a few workflows for development related work. I limited them to things I do daily or fairly often.


We have quite a few repos on GitHub and more through invites from other companies. And yet again, there is a workflow for that: alfred-github-workflow. After installing, run gh login to setup. This workflow has many actions, but simply searching and opening your repos is super handy.

The previous workflow returns my public repos, but it wasn't returning my private repos no matter what permissions I granted it. For that I installed alfred-github-repos. The keyword `gh` is the same, but that is okay. Alfred triggers both workflows and the options selected the most filter to the top of the list.


I still use the command line for most git work, but I do use SourceTree to visually see file changes before commits. This workflow allows me to quickly open repos in SourceTree. This helps me on my quest to stop command-tabbing my way to all the things.

Search Dev Docs

This is pretty awesome. This workflow searches the super awesome After installing the workflow, I found it most helpful when I installed the specific docs I want: cdoc:add. After you install the specific docs you want, you can use doc foreach to search across all docs. Or search specific docs, e.g. lodash~4 map (start typing lo and the lodash versions installed will be listed for auto complete). If you have trouble installing a doc or want to see which docs you have installed, open up the Alfred preferences and the devdocs workflow. You can see a list of the docs you installed and the keywords you can search on. The keyword `doc` searches a lot of things, so it might take a few seconds. Searching specific docs is much quicker.

Example: doc foreach


Often I use the site to search for browser compatibility features.

Example: caniuse canvas


Transform query strings through base64, html, url, and utf-8 encode/decode. This example copies '%25', the encoded string for '%':

Example: encode &

IP Address

Copy current IP address.

Example: ip

Process Killer

A shortcut to find processes by name and kill them using kill -9.

Example: kill itunes

iTunes Play

This workflow doesn't just make it easy to play songs, but artists, albums and playlists as well. I stream radio stations like KEXP for most of the day. I have a playlist called 'Internet Songs', but playplaylist didn't bring it up in Alfred. I ended up tricking it by creating a 'KEXP' playlist and adding one random song. Now playplaylist kexp works.

Example: playartist Kevin Morby

Slow and steady

My approach to this year's productivity resolution is to be more methodical. I want to focus on a few shortcuts I will truly use and to be diligent about FORCING the repetition to chip away at my stubborn muscle memory. Stay tuned for more productivity blog posts!

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Posted in: Development, Business

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