Applications launchers are small applications that make it easy for you to open other applications, folders, files, or anything else by pressing a keyboard shortcut and typing part of the applications’ name.
Quicksilver has been the de facto application launcher for Mac for a long time, but now competitors are starting to pop up. One I particularly like is Alfred, and this article is going to help you figure out which one is for you.
Design is obviously subject to personal preference, so I’ll just go with what I think here. Quicksilver has many more options for customizing its design and you can make it look like anything you want, essentially. However, I really enjoy the simplicity and appearance of functionality that Alfred’s default window has. It just looks like it works and it stays out of your way. I like that in an app.
Alfred is not all that extendable yet. It functions simply and does what it should, but it is missing many of the plugins that Quicksilver has. With Quicksilver, there’s a plugin out there for pretty much anything you could need, making it much more than just an application launcher. Alfred is missing this extendability, and that’s something that I miss when using it.
In short, Alfred works. It finds what you need and it is easy to customize it so that it will search for files, applications, folders, or anything else you could want – or you can restrict it. If you don’t want it to search for files or folders automatically, you can always type “find file” and it will search for the file.
That said, Quicksilver can do a lot more. Alfred’s only option is to open the application or file when you navigate to it, but Quicksilver can do so much more. With the help of plugins, it can edit images, upload to websites, move files, and practically anything else you can think of.
While I appreciate Quicksilver’s abilities, I think the Alfred gets the edge for simple functionality because it just works the way an application launcher should.
Both Alfred and Quicksilver have a lot of options (especially if you buy the PowerPack for Alfred), but Quicksilver definitely has more. You can customize every aspect of the application and easy assign any number of restrictions to your searches. Alfred can do this to some degree, but it is more cumbersome and not as clean.
Alfred wins hands down in the speed category. Some tests have shown that it gives you the results up to three times faster than Quicksilver, and I can anecdotally support this as well. There isn’t much to discuss in this category – Alfred wins.
The choice is up to you. I recommend you try both for a week and see which suits your needs better. But if you were to ask for my option, I like Alfred more. It works smoothly and intuitively, and is quick and well-designed. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Want to download Quicksilver? Here’s where you can get it: Blacktree Software.
How about Alfred? Here’s where you can get it: Alfred App.