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crisb

Alfred as app switcher - including browser tabs/windows?

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I'm giving Alfred another try after not having used it for a while. I'm mainly considering it as an alternative to an app switcher called Contexts (https://contexts.co/) which, while generally excellent, suffers some unfortunate side-effects that Alfred doesn't.

 

I work with many apps running on the mac, and jump between them often. Cmd-tabbing through a long list is too slow. So I want to use the Alfred popup window to search for my already-open stuff and jump there.

 

For apps, this works nicely -- if the app is open, Alfred finds it and its window is brought into focus; if not, it the app is found and launched. Perfect.

 

The scenario it doesn't cover (but Contexts does) is for web apps open in seperate browser tabs (or windows for that matter). I use Trello, for example. Rather than jumping first to Chrome, and then finding the Trello tab, I want to start typing "Tre.." and have Alfred offer it.

 

Note the crucial thing for me is that all this is one integrated action (search for running apps and tabs/windows). I am not, for example, looking for a 'search browser tabs' workflow. That adds the load of deciding which Alfred operation to perform (standard Alfred search, or search tabs workflow), dozens of times per day.

 

Is this something Alfred can do? I'm currently on Alfred 2 but will upgrade to 3 if Alfred can do what I want.

Edited by crisb

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Do you use desktops? I have a lot of apps like browser, editor, terminal, chat, etc. and I need to switch between them quickly. So I've created 7 desktops, bind main apps to it's own desktop and assigned shortcuts for them (cmd+1 - cmd+7). Switching between desktops/apps in such way is very fast.
But it will not help with browsers tabs, so for such case appropriate workflow is required.

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I think this workflow is ready for you.

 

https://github.com/stuartcryan/rapid-browser-tabs-for-alfred

 

That's precisely what I'm not after. I want to hit one keystroke to search for and then jump to any open app, window or tab. Not to have to think "is this task in a window or tab?" and then choose between a bunch of workflows/keystrokes.

 

Do you use desktops? I have a lot of apps like browser, editor, terminal, chat, etc. and I need to switch between them quickly. So I've created 7 desktops, bind main apps to it's own desktop and assigned shortcuts for them (cmd+1 - cmd+7). Switching between desktops/apps in such way is very fast.

But it will not help with browsers tabs, so for such case appropriate workflow is required.

 

I have used multiple desktops in the past but tend not to at the moment (I fell out of the habit). I think my current workflow tends to involve too much flicking between disparate groups of small windows than really fits siloing them in separate desktops. Also my natural tendency is more verbal than spatial -- I think 'project name' not 'desktop 3'. But it's definitely worth thinking about, so thanks for the suggestion.

 

Having given all this a bit more thought, I've realised Alfred is probably the wrong tool for this particular job, excellent and flexible though it is in general. For it to suit my case, Alfred would need to have the capacity to plug workflows into the Default Results (ie. to inject open app names, and window and tab titles in amongst the app and file search results), as opposed to launching a separate workflow. AFAIK this isn't possible.

 

I have found a different tool that I think suits this particular job better.

Edited by crisb

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AFAIK, Chrome doesn't officially export a list of its tabs that Alfred can read (like 1Password and Safari do with their bookmarks), and I don't think Andrew would consider adding anything to the default results if Alfred has to query the application for the data, not load them directly from disk.

 

The reason is that it can take 100x longer to ask an application for data versus loading them from disk, and that's in the best case scenario that the application responds as quickly as possible.

 

Here's a concrete example of asking Safari for a list of its tabs versus loading a list from disk (using Go and JXA):

            From App    From Disk
20  tabs    0.65s       0.004s
50  tabs    0.94s       0.012s
100 tabs    1.5s        0.022s

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 What tool? I am looking for the same thing!

 

I know of two, each with its own tradeoffs (I assume it's OK to post this here as neither is a direct Alfred competitor):

 

If you can live without the tab search, Contexts is an excellent app switcher. It has a search mode which can find windows based on partial typing of the app name or window title. I like this app so much I tried using it for a while, and just not using Chrome tabs at all (using one window per site). That proved unwieldy. I have asked the developer if browser tab titles might be supported, and was told it was a frequent request that would be considered for the future. I'm keeping an eye out on that.

 

So now I'm using Optimal Layout. This is a window manager that's useful enough just for that purpose, but it also has a built-in app switcher with search. It can find browser tabs. The caveat is that it excludes Chrome tabs by default. This can be changed in the preferences, but there's a warning that Chrome tab support comes with bugs. I've found that to be true, but it's worth living with as the only workable solution for me so far.

 

Note I did refer to a 'different' tool, not a perfect one (yet) ;)

Edited by crisb

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