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Simple ideas: opening a frequently used folder

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Many times a day I open my ~/Downloads folder in various sizes and shapes of window. However, I have a preferred size and shape for that Finder window and, with a very simple Alfred workflow, it's easy not only to cater for that but also to add some useful options.


The skeletal workflow



The explanation

1, 2 & 3 are all you need for the basic workflow. The remainder are the icing on the…workflow.


  1. I use a Keyword Input because I find it difficult to recall all the hotkeys used in my various apps. Of course, you could use a Hotkey Trigger if you wish.
  2. This is a simple Open File Action containing the path to the folder you wish to open.
  3. We use an Automation Task to set the bounds of the Finder window exactly was we want them.
  4. This is where we are Using Alternative Actions so that ⌥⏎ will take us along the new path in the workflow. Note, in the same Action, we also tell Alfred not to close Alfred's window in order to prevent flickering. (To access the Alternative Actions simply double click the round marker along the connecting line after an input object.)
  5. An Automation Task passes the contents of the folder (choosing, in my case, to sort by most recently added) to…
  6. Alfred's Grid View—where we can see the contents of the folder displayed in a grid (set to "Keep the results in order defined”). In that view we can search for any item, use ⌘O ("O” for "open”) to open any selected item in its default app or just press to move on to action the item in Alfred.
  7. Again we keep open Alfred's window (as in 4 above).
  8. The Action in Alfred action provides access to Alfred's Universal Actions appropriate to the selected item (allowing you, for example, to delete or move the item, open it in Finder, etc.).


In conclusion

Sorry for the long-winded explanation of a very simple workflow. Once you have it up and running you may, like me, use it many times a day and everything very soon becomes second nature.


Incidentally, there's a splendid workflow from Vitor on the Alfred Gallery called Thumbnail Navigation which allows you to navigate the file system with previews…so you may never need anything similar to what I've described here. But you don't learn as much using other's workflows as you do when writing your own, do you? 😉



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@Stephen_C -- this new series of yours is super fun and i'm sure helpful to so many users. Just spitballing here, but if you and the team plan on doing a bunch of these, maybe it should be broken out into its on forum heading for ease of discovery? I'm just thinking these posts will be buried in a week or two.


Again, I think it only makes sense if you plan on doing a bunch.



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@sepulchra thanks for the kind comment. I'm currently doing a couple more (on List Filters but also covering basic variables in the process). I'm slightly conscious of the fact that some of these are getting rather long (particularly with all the screenshots) and don't want to "bomb" the forum!


I'm unsure what the Powers That Be think of all of this 😁 but currently I'm prefacing the title of each with "Simple ideas:"—with the aim of making them easy to find should anyone wish to do so.




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@Stephen_C is there a way to do this grid view search, but for the entire file system (the same way Alfred search files in the default mode)? I tried setting the folder content to `~` or `/` but it was only showing files in the that specific directory and not the child directories

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I tried the Thumbnail Navigation. In that I need to press a keyword > search for a folder > then it shows it's thumbnails in the folder (and i can search within them). Any way i can just press a keyword and it shows all files (with thumbnails) and then i can search within them. This is the way the Alfred's default file search works but it doesnt have thumbnails of course (released in grid view)

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If you notice, Alfred’s file search returns results as you type and is smart about what to show and how many results. What you’re asking for, returning every file on the system with previews, would be resource intensive and would take a while to get everything showing. Performance is important.

To have an idea of how long it takes just to list every file on just your home directory try this in a Terminal: /usr/bin/find ~ You can abort the command at any time by pressing ⌃C or closing the window.

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On 4/15/2024 at 11:47 PM, andy4222 said:


This makes sense.


Let me ask differently. Any way to emulate how the Alfred file search feature but results show up in a  Grid View?

Also interested in such behaviour. At the moment I am using "shift" to preview results from file filter without leaving Alfred, but grid view will make my life easier.

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I’ll ask that we please not bring more separate discussions into this thread, which is supposed to be about one Simple Idea that Stephen is kindly sharing with the community. Words of appreciation and requests for clarifications are certainly welcome, but (especially) since this post is part of a larger collection I’d rather we don’t derail it further.

I’ve posted a reply on the other post.

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