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Using Alfred to manage tasks

Recent updates to Alfred (my earlier post here) have greatly enhanced its capabilities to run local scripts and extensions. I’ve long used the Journal Tasks TextMate bundle in conjunction with geektool to manage and display a small to-do list in one corner of my OS X desktop, and now with Alfred I can instantly add items to that list. Quite slick.

Here’s the task list viewed in TextMate: Simple and no frills.

quick list textmate

And geektool displays it on the desktop using a bit of awk:

awk '!/@done/' ~/DropBox/SimpleText/Quick\ List.taskpaper

quick list desktop

I’ve set up an Alfred extension to add to the list using the “do” command:

alfred quicklist

The command in Alfred looks like this:

perl -p -i -e 's/^Quick List:\n/Quick List:\n\n- {query}/' ~/Dropbox/SimpleText/Quick\ List.taskpaper; growlnotify -m "Added item to quicklist"

It finds the header for the appropriate part of the list, and inserts the query passed to it at the top of the list. (Update paths as appropriate; I keep my quick list file in my DropBox folder.)

Growl provides a nice visual confirmation that the item has been added. I still have to open the file in TextMate to mark items as @done and periodically expunge completed items, but it’s great to be able to effortlessly add to the list.

The entire Alfred extension is at github.

Alfred is my favorite new launcher

Back in the day, Quicksilver was the hot app for OS X. I hadnít used it for years, now; at some point it seemed to become unstable, and its indexing sucked up a fair amount of CPU. So until recently Iíve been launcher-less on my Macs. Oh I checked out the occasional alternative like Launchbar, but never took to it.

But now Iím using Alfred and seeing the launcher light once again.

Alfred is nicely capable on its own: Invoke it, type an application or file name, and Alfred displays the matches, each with a hotkey to activate. But with its Powerpack, it gets just fantastic, with dedicated shortcut keys to active popup finder navigation, a mini iTunes player and a Clipboard history. The keyboard shortcuts continue ó each popup gives hotkeys to the options it presents.

These tools have replaced my normal modes of navigating on the MacBook. Itís so easy to invoke any of the powerpack features to find and email a file, fire up a playlist, or simply launch/switch applications. What I used to do with quicksilver, Iím now doing with Alfred, and loving it.

[The launcher app itself is free and available on the Mac App Store; the powerpack, which turns up the capability to 11, costs about $20. Worth it.]


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I’m a sociologist-errant. This site is powered by Textpattern, Pair Networks and the sociological imagination. For more about me and this site, see the long version.

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