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Questions from newbie


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I have just switched to Mac after decades on Windows, and I'm trying to decide whether to purchase Alfred. I have three questions which perhaps people here can help with:

 

1) Is Alfred safe from a security/privacy perspective? It seems like it has access to absolutely everything on the computer, all controld and information

2) Is is it safe to install workflows, given that they are created by random individuals (no offence meant! just that one doesn't know the source)?

3) Would you recommend the powerpack v4, or the mega version with lifetime updates?

 

Thank you!

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Welcome @bebek. To both the Alfred forums and macOS!

 

3 hours ago, bebek said:

I'm trying to decide whether to purchase Alfred.

 

For many (most?) of us, Alfred is the first app we install on any Mac and we almost feel useless using macOS without it. It can get that ingrained in your usage.

 

3 hours ago, bebek said:

Is Alfred safe from a security/privacy perspective?

 

Like every closed-source software, you have to trust its creators. I wholeheartedly trust Alfred’s team (@Andrew and @Vero) and I recommend you stick around to meet them in the forums. You’ll see they care deeply for Alfred’s users and they have everything to gain from being truthful. Plus, they’re nice people in general.

 

3 hours ago, bebek said:

Is is it safe to install workflows, given that they are created by random individuals (no offence meant! just that one doesn't know the source)?

 

That’s indeed something different, and your reluctance in understandable and healthy. You definitely should install Workflows—like any other software—from people you trust. That said:

  • In these forums, you’ll find plenty of prolific developers with dozens of released Workflows. Get to know us and decide if you should trust us. I think you should!
  • I’ve never heard of an invasion of privacy or security from an Alfred Workflow. In fact, most (all?) don’t even so much as have analytics!
  • The overwhelming majority of Workflows are built in scripting languages, meaning anyone can inspect the code. Hiding something malicious isn’t too viable, especially in popular Workflows.

 

3 hours ago, bebek said:

Would you recommend the powerpack v4, or the mega version with lifetime updates?

 

The latter, as I don’t see myself giving up Alfred any time soon. But no software satisfies everyone’s needs and we don’t know each other, so I can only tell you what I’d recommend myself.

Edited by vitor
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3 hours ago, bebek said:

Is Alfred safe from a security/privacy perspective?

 

Absolutely. Alfred doesn’t upload any data to its creators or anyone else.

 

3 hours ago, bebek said:

Is is it safe to install workflows, given that they are created by random individuals

 

In theory, it's potentially risky. In practice, it's just not an issue. Alfred is too small to be an attractive target. But If someone did create a malicious workflow, there are enough paranoid users (like me) running all manner of security software that it would be quickly spotted.

 

If you must worry about something, worry about bugs, not enemy action.

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Thank you for the friendly responses.

 

13 hours ago, deanishe said:

Absolutely. Alfred doesn’t upload any data to its creators or anyone else.

Is this something that has been verfied by an audit or someone else being able to examine the code?

 

13 hours ago, vitor said:

In these forums, you’ll find plenty of prolific developers with dozens of released Workflows. Get to know us and decide if you should trust us. I think you should!

Are there databases of workflows which can be searched, and generally trusted?

 

Thanks again!

 

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4 hours ago, bebek said:

Is this something that has been verfied by an audit or someone else being able to examine the code?

 

You don’t need to examine the code, only the network connections.

 

4 hours ago, bebek said:

Are there databases of workflows which can be searched, and generally trusted?

 

There are several. All of them are generally trusted, because as we’ve established there’s never been a known problem. I’d recommend this forum, though, where you can interact with the people and reach your conclusions.

 

When it comes down to it, both these questions are just shifting the source of trust. Unless you check for yourself, or know/pay someone who will, you’re still taking the word of strangers by asking. At some point you have to trust someone, which you already are by using a closed-source operating system—macOS now, Windows previously. The latter is specifically known for its invasions of privacy.

 

A certain dose of paranoia is healthy, but Alfred has never done anything even slightly suspicious, and it’s used by a lot of people who would know where to look.

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1 minute ago, vitor said:

At some point you have to trust someone, which you already are by using a closed-source operating system—macOS now, Windows previously. The latter is specifically known for its invasions of privacy.

 

Thanks. Indeed, one of my reasons for switching to Mac was precisely because I trust the macOS to be more secure than Windows... I'm still getting used to how this new universe works.

 

I've just seen on the Alfred main page that "Alfred 4 for Mac is Developer ID Signed and Notarised." This, together with the kind replies from you and Deanishe, has done enough to satisfy me!

 

Now I just need to decide if to get the Mega version. How often do new versions come out, and do they render previous ones obsolete? I get the feeling that I might get hooked and become dependent on some of the functions, so I'm ok with investing for the long-term if necessary.

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3 minutes ago, bebek said:

How often do new versions come out, and do they render previous ones obsolete?

 

Minor versions have frequent releases. Major releases are every few years. Previous versions don’t become obsolete, but Workflows created for a newer version of Alfred won’t work on an older version (understandable; as the newer version always has more features). Some developers keep releasing their Workflows for older Alfred versions for a while (e.g. @deanishe) others don’t (e.g. myself).

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15 minutes ago, bebek said:

I trust the macOS to be more secure than Windows

 

It's probably more accurate to describe macOS as "safer" rather than "more secure". Apple don't necessarily do a better job of security than Microsoft, but macOS malware is rare and unsophisticated compared to the Windows variety.

 

macOS is a huge win over Windows when it comes to privacy, though. Apple take privacy very seriously and view it as a key competitive advantage.

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