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Mac Gems: Alfred 2 ups the launcher-app ante

Dan Miller | April 18, 2013
When I first reviewed Alfred, the app- and file-launching utility, back in early 2011, I praised it for its simplicity: You'd invoke the utility with a shortcut key-combination, type the first few letters of an application or file's name, and Alfred would find what you wanted and open it. It did more than OS X's built-in Spotlight feature--if not quite as much as other launchers such as Butler, Launchbar, or Quicksilver--without a lot of monkeying around.

Like its predecessor, Alfred 2 provides more launching power than Spotlight with little or no intervention on your part. And if you're willing to invest the time required to set up Alfred's more-advanced options, as well as to take advantage of the new workflow feature, Alfred provides impressive power and flexibility. However, if you are willing to invest that kind of time in a launcher utility, it's worth asking what you really want in return: Butler offers its incredibly extensive configuration screen, Launchbar its seemingly bottomless index, Quicksilver its catalog, triggers, and plug-ins. Each offers more built-in actions and customizability than Alfred does. But in each case, tapping into that power requires considerable time and effort. If its comparative simplicity or its new workflows appeal to you, Alfred is still a great choice. But if you're after the most powerful, most infinitely configurable launcher you can find, I recommend checking out the other three before deciding.


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