Spotlight search plays a major role in finding items on Mac. Just like Windows Search does on Windows. You can press Command + Space (Spotlight keyboard shortcut) to start Spotlight Search and find anything on your Mac. While it works closely with native apps, you can also search online using it. That said, it has a few shortcomings. So Alfred 4 can easily replace it with several app integrations and lots of smart tricks up his sleeve.
Alfred 4 is able to take your research experience to the next level. Those with technical knowledge can also take advantage of the Workflow add-on to create complex automation. If you are confused between Alfred 4 and the default Spotlight search, read on to find all the differences.
Simultaneous use of Spotlight and Alfred 4
Let’s get it straight. You can easily use Spotlight Search and Alfred 4 side by side. All you need to do is assign a different keyword for Alfred 4 and keep the default Command + Space shortcut for Spotlight search.
However, this is not a practical solution. You can choose one of the two and assign a hotkey combination for better workflow.
Look and feel
Let’s talk a bit about the look of the search bar on both Spotlight Search and Alfred 4. The default Spotlight search has a gray theme and matches the rest of the operating system perfectly. Switch to a dark theme and the Spotlight search menu follows that with a similar look.
Alfred looked a bit overwhelmed with Apple’s default solution. With v4.0, the company took the thematic part seriously and added a lot of options.
Go to Alfred’s Preferences menu and open Appearance. You can choose any of ten themes including classic theme, dark theme, teal theme, high contrast, etc. We mostly prefer Alfred’s default macOS theme because it intelligently blends with macOS.
Alfred easily beats when it comes to font customization. Go to Alfred’s Preferences menu and you can choose from dozens of fonts to personalize the experience.
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Search function and interesting tips
Let’s talk about the main reason for choosing a third-party Spotlight search alternative. The default search feature is limited to proprietary apps and a handful of third-party services. Let’s talk about it.
Using the default Spotlight search, you can find installed apps, bookmarks and history (Safari browser), documents, folders, images, music, movies, presentations, spreadsheets. calculation, etc.
The features don’t end there. You can use Spotlight search to solve basic calculations using the default macOS calculator app. For example, you can type “5 * 40 + 78” in Spotlight search, and it will provide accurate answers using Calculator app.
Another cool tip is the currency conversation. Run the Spotlight search and type $ 50 in euros or pounds, and it will return the correct answers using the Yahoo Finance service.
Siri also benefits from a neat integration with Spotlight. When you type the query into the search bar, you will notice the Siri suggestions just below the search box. Spotlight search is very useful for managing content stored in Apple apps. Wait until you see Alfred’s abilities.
Alfred compensates for features that are not available in Spotlight search ends. And it’s only when you try them out that you’ll realize why this third-party app is so popular with fans compared to native macOS functionality.
Besides the usual search queries, Alfred works great with popular third-party apps like Google Chrome and 1Password. For example, if you are using Chrome as your default browser on Mac, you can type the name of the website and press Enter to open the tab in the browser. Another great add-on is the support for 1Password which is useful for protecting your passwords.
Search for the 1Password entry without opening the app and get the relevant information right from Alfred’s search menu.
Alfred also offers keyboard shortcuts for quick access to a response. When the application presents you with many suggestions, you can use the “Command + 1/2/3…” keys and quickly open the relevant answers.
Another integration you might like is Wikipedia and Amazon. Just type in a product name or query, and you can choose from Google, Amazon, or Wikipedia search. You can also access clipboard data using the Alfred search menu. Neat, isn’t it?
The smooth integration of system commands might bring you down.
Start the Alfred search and type Sleep, then press Enter to put the Mac into sleep mode. Use the Volup or Voldown controls, and you can increase or decrease the volume on the go.
Want to shut down your Mac without hitting the power button? Type Shut Down in Alfred, and you can shut down your Mac quickly.
Open the Alfred search and type Exit, and he will offer you to quit a specific app or all apps with just one click. We use the Exit and Sleep command all the time. And the good news is that system commands are part of the free version. No need to shell out extra money for it.
With Spotlight Search, you can define exactly where to look and what to avoid. Go to System Preferences> Spotlight and turn off the options you no longer need. You can also add Mac folders and have Spotlight exclude them from search results.
Alfred offers workflows. This is Alfred’s version of IFTTT (If This Then That), and you can create custom workflows that meet your needs. Create custom scripts and run them using defined keyboard shortcuts. The whole workflow is a bit geeky and you have to spend some time with the software to get familiar with it.
Workflow is part of Alfred Powerpack which costs £ 49 as a one-time purchase with free lifetime upgrades.
Improve your productivity
Compared to Microsoft’s implementation on Windows 10, Spotlight search on macOS is much better. However, the Alfred 4 takes the experience to the next level and clears the floor with system controls, integration with Google Chrome, customization options, and workflow. Go ahead, give it a try, and share your experience in the comments section below.
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Last updated on April 23, 2021
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