I have used some type of Mac Utility App like LaunchBar, Alfred or some other Text Expanders for many years. For a while I was using only Alfred, then I switched to LaunchBar for a while. Now, I am back to Alfred. You can search for previous articles for Alfred on the blog, but they are about earlier versions. I am currently working with version 3; it is super powerful. Today I want to talk about Alfred’s new and improved Snippet capability.
So, what got me started on this Snippet adventure. Well, I was reading an article about writing more assertively. The article was for business people, but it still had some good pointers for the rest of us. The point of the article was to not use passive, weak words and terminology. They provided a Collection of word substitutions to be loaded into the Alfred Snippets area. There is a link in the article to download the Collection, once you have it you drag it into the Snippets Collection window and the substitutions appear. You can check the box for the ones you wish to use. With all this in mind, let us take a look at Snippets in the powerful Alfred App.
Snippets are contained in the Features area of Alfred:
Once you are in the Features area you click on Snippets:
Don’t let all this stuff overwhelm you. I will be looking at some of these Features in future articles. For now, lets focus on Snippets.
To make Snippets work you have to click the “Automatically expand snippets by keyword” box. When you do, you will be taken to the Security & Privacy Preference Pane:
Select “Accessibility” and then check the box “Alfred Text Service.app.” Now Alfred can insert Snippets in your documents automatically as you type.
Creating Your Own Snippets
Alfred has some canned Snippets you can download if you wish. It is easy to create your own Snippets from scratch. First, select or create a new Snippet Collection:
Then, click on the “plus” symbol in the lower right corner of the Alfred window. You will get the Snippet creation drop down window:
1. Put in a plain English name for the Snippet, 2. Enter the abbreviation for the Snippet (capitalization is important here), and 3. Enter the actual text that will be inserted when you type the abbreviation.
If I was going to make an abbreviation for “Best Regards” the setup would look like this:
Note, the capital letter “B.” So, when I type the letters bee rrrr (that is a capital “B” and the letter “r”) I get
You can create tons of Snippets using this method. The problem with Snippets is remembering all the abbreviations!! You could always make a little cheat sheet with the most used ones I guess.
At this point, I am transferring all my Snippets from other Apps into Alfred Collections. I do not have that many, but the ones I have are used quite often. Alfred has tons of features. The Snippets Feature works well, I will be using it extensively. Alfred is a free App, but to take advantage of all it’s powerful Features you need to buy the Powerpack from their website for $25. Believe me, the Powerpack is worth every penny.