Alfred Custom Web Searches: 5 Examples to Get You Started

It’s definitely no secret that Alfred is one of AppStorm’s all-time favorite apps. Several of us use it daily and thoroughly enjoy the extended capabilities it brings to OS X.

One of these awesome features is the ability to set up custom searches. These allow you to quickly launch a search on almost any website straight from Alfred. Today I’ll show you some of the custom searches that I’ve personally set up and use daily.

Built-In Searches

Before we launch on a mission to create our own custom Alfred search queries, we should look under the hood to see what’s already provided to prevent from unnecessarily duplicating functionality.

To see what’s included, launch Alfred and click the little gear icon in the top right to bring up the preferences window. Once you’re in the preferences, click on “Features” in the top navigation and “Web Searches” on the left under the “Web & URL” heading.

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The built-in web searches

This should give you a big list of options for all kinds of web searches: Google, Yahoo, IMDB, Ask, Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, eBay, YouTube and more. With all these built-in options, you’re likely to have trouble thinking of anything that needs to be added! Fear not though, we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s make sure you know who to use these.

To get started, check out the extensive list of options. There are two columns here: Keyword and Website. The latter obviously shows you the search you’ll be running, and in a sense so does the keyword, except that the keyword is more importantly telling you how you can tell Alfred to run this specific search.

For instance, let’s say we want to run a quick search on IMDB. To make sure we know how this is accomplished, we look at the list, find IMDB and check out the keyword. Conveniently, this is simply “IMDB”.

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Finding the right keyword

Now that we know how to communicate with Alfred, close the preferences window and hit your shortcut to bring up Alfred. Next, type in the keyword for the search you’re looking for. It’ll likely pop up at the top before you even finish typing it, just hit enter to have Alfred autofill the rest.

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First type in the keyword

Once you’ve got the keyword entered and ready to go, it’s time to enter your search query just as if you were on the site itself. You don’t need quotes or anything, just type what you’re looking for and hit Return. This will launch the indicated website with the results for the query you entered.

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Then type in your query

Make Your Own

Under the “Custom Web Searches” heading, you can add to the list of built-in web searches by building your own. Don’t worry if this sounds complicated, it’s super easy. The first thing you’ll want to do is go to the site you want to add and manually run a search.

For example, let’s say hypothetically that Flickr wasn’t included (it is) and we wanted to add it. We’d hit up Flickr.com and type any old search query. As a general rule of thumb, short, easy to spot queries work the best, so I used “appstorm”.

Once you’ve run the search, ignore the results and instead take a look at the url that resulted. In our case it should be http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=appstorm. All we have to do from here is find the search string that we used and replace it with {query}. This will tell Alfred where to insert whatever you decide to type in.

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Creating a custom search

Once you’ve got that URL figured out, you can go to the “Custom Searches” section and create a new custom search. Paste the URL in the top field and fill out the rest however you want. Note again that the keyword you enter here will be what you enter into Alfred to bring up this custom search.

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Creating a custom search

Five Must-Have Custom Searches

Now that you know how to find the built-in searches and how to add in your own, here are some custom searches that I’ve built and find useful. If you like them, copy and paste them into your own version of Alfred! I’ve already inserted the appropriate tags so you can use them as they appear below.

Flickr Creative Commons

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Flickr Creative Commons

As I mentioned above, Flickr is one of the default choices built right into Alfred. However, when I’m searching Flickr, I’m typically looking for an image to use in a post, and the most of the results in the default search aren’t licensed for that type of use.

The solution is of course to go into the advanced search options and make sure that you’re checking only in the Creative Commons material. This takes a few steps though so it’s much faster to just run a quick search for Alfred. The snippet below will search only Creative Commons-licensed content for commercial use, adaptation, modification or building upon, meaning you can use the image almost anywhere as long as you show proper attribution to the author.

Website: Flickr Creative Commons
URL: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q={query}&l=commderiv&ss=0&ct=0&mt=all&w=all&adv=1
Shortcut: fcc

Time.is

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Time.is

Time.is is a fantastic website that helps you find the current time for any place on the planet in a gorgeously simple and attractive interface. I work closely with people from Australia, the UK, all over the U.S., and various other places on the globe so I’m always in a state of confusion about what time it is for the person I’m trying to communicate with. My simple and effective solution was an Alfred custom search!

With this custom search, all you have to do is type in “time” and then the location that you want to check. For instance, if I want to check on my friends in Melbourne, I just type “time Melbourne” and hit Return, which instantly brings up the exact time in Melbourne, the difference in time between Melbourne and my current location, and even the sunrise and sunset times!

Website: Time.is
URL: http://time.is/{query}
Shortcut: time

Zootool

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Zootool

Zootool is my favorite bookmarking service. Much better than Delicious, it stores all your bookmarks with convenient little thumbnails. You can use Zootool to store sites, images, videos; whatever you want!

It’s often the case that I’m writing an article or designing something and recall a resource that I bookmarked that can help me out. With a Zootool custom web search in Alfred, I’m never more than a few keystrokes away from my Zoo.

Website: Zootool
URL (Your Zoo): http://zootool.com/zoo/search:{query}
URL (Public Search): http://zootool.com/search/{query}/
Shortcut: zt

Pinterest

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Pinterest

Pinterest is a lot like Zootool, it allows you to store various bits and pieces of the web into personalized collections. However, Pinterest definitely has a strong leaning towards the trendy and chic. The personality of the site’s users is remarkably consistent and the type of content that you find is almost always incredibly stylish and interesting.

Any time I’m looking for some inspiration for design, photography, furniture or even if I just want something fun to make for dinner, I hit up Pinterest and run a public search. With this custom search, Alfred becomes a fantastic instant gateway to what is sure to become your newest addiction.

Website: Pinterest
URL: http://pinterest.com/search/?q={query}
Shortcut: pin

Grooveshark

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Grooveshark

Grooveshark is one of the best things to ever hit the Internet. Pulling content from all over the web, Grooveshark allows you to enter a song, artist or album and instantly hear the music you want, completely free.

Several times throughout the week a friend or colleague will suggest that check out a song or artist, or I get a song stuck in my head and I just have to hear it, or I suddenly have to know the artist behind a specific piece; all of these require a trip to Grooveshark and Alfred makes it that much closer. Just type a quick “gs” and the song you’re after and you’re off to Internet music bliss.

Website: Grooveshark
URL: http://grooveshark.com/#/search?q={query}
Shortcut: gs

Share Your Favorite Custom Searches!

By now you should know all about Alfred Custom Searches: what they are, how to use the built-in options, how to create your own and even five great searches to get you started. So get out there and start building your own!

Leave a comment below and let us know what custom searches you’ve built or are going to build. Be sure to paste the syntax into your comment so we others can grab it quickly.