Alfred powered working

Author: Garry Shutler

26th July 2016

By far one of the most useful things we’ve done at Cronofy is double down on using Alfred.

For those of you that don’t know, Alfred is OSX’s Spotlight on steroids. One of the key features is the ability to specify custom searches, accessible via single key combination.

Searching all the things

Whenever you’re supporting a system, there will inevitably be the need to lookup the information either for the person you are supporting or the information they have provided you. To make this as simple as possible we have a omnisearch box within our support/admin area to take a single ID, made particularly powerful through the use of opaque IDs as you can tailor the search to the type of ID provided *before* doing any lookup.

This search box can be used directly through the site, or you can go directly to your search target via a URL like https://{ADMIN}/search?q={term}. So when looking at a support ticket we can quickly open a new tab with their information by copying their email address, opening Alfred, typing “cronofy ” and pasting their email address. Boom. Context for that user in your face in as few interactions as possible. If they’ve provided a calendar ID or similar? Same deal. Copy the ID, open Alfred, type “cronofy “, paste the ID. Magic.


Short codes

We also have short codes built into the omnisearch for going to common pages such as our various dashboards. So if I want to look at our top-level dashboard at any time, I open Alfred, type “cronofy dash”, and, you guessed it, BOOM. Adding a new alias is easy, and you don’t have to learn or set up a new shortcut.

This mechanism can be nested, so if a top-level page makes sense to have search functionality, that can be made to accept a query in the same way. For example, https://{ADMIN}/foo?q={term} can be configured as a short code with a forwarded portion. Then “cronofy foo {term}” is available directly from Alfred.

Other sites

It can also reduce friction for other scenarios. For example, we use Zendesk for our support. Now I often don’t have a Zendesk tab open because I’ve set it up so that when I type “zen” in Alfred it opens a new tab on the overview page.

I find this much quicker and easier than switching from my current application to my browser, and selecting the Zendesk tab or opening a new tab and typing the URL.

The Alfred custom search functionality doesn’t have to be for a search box. Zendesk tickets have a URL structure of https://{CLIENT}{TICKET_NUMBER} so you can provide {TICKET_NUMBER} via Alfred to go straight to a ticket. So if someone asks me to take a look at ticket 1234 in Slack, I can open Alfred, type “zen 1234” and jump straight to it. Then I may want to look up the customer’s details, so that’s a quick “cronofy {email}” and I have that information to hand too.

But wait, there’s more

Here’s some other custom searches I have set up for Alfred:

HTTP status codes
http {code}
Add to Alfred

Redis commands
redis {command}
Add to Alfred

gem {name}
Add to Alfred

Mozilla Developer Network
mdn {query}
Add to Alfred

giphy {query}
Add to Alfred

These all build on top of the out-of-the-box functionality such as file and directory searching, going to an address in Google Maps, search terms in Google or Google Image Search, the calculator for when you need to do some quick maths, the dictionary for when you want to check a definition, and much more.

There’s also great integrations with tools like Dash for referencing documentation and 1Password for credentials and secrets.

Got any Alfred tips if your own? Let us know on Twitter.

Avatar of Garry Shutler

Garry Shutler

Date: 26th July 2016 | Category: Business, Cronofy