Optimising for Speed

29th March 2021

I’ve been trying out a couple of new apps this week, and although they aren’t related at all, I’m using both for the same reason.

The apps are Alfred 4 for Mac and Spotify. Both of these apps are replacing Apple’s solutions, Spotlight and the Music app.

It started with Spotify, and the reason behind the switch was the way search works in the Mac app. I have a thread with a few videos, but essentially Spotify searched as you typed your query, whereas the Music app only[1] allowed you to see the results after you finished typing a query and then pressed return[2].

This is most likely a minuscule quality of life enhancement to many people. But if there’s one thing I know about myself, is that I become frustrated quickly when it feels like I’m being held back. So I thought for once maybe I should try and see what I can do to make my life a bit easier.

This then opened my eyes up to Alfred.

I’ve been aware of Alfred for a while, but I always saw it as a much more advanced and customisable version of Spotlight. And while that may be the case, as I don’t need any advanced functionality, I didn’t give it a real go.

However, I started to think that forgetting the additional features, it might just be a better Spotlight. And after using it for a few days, I certainly think it is.

There’s not much I used Spotlight for, apart from opening applications, launching various system preferences, or looking up a definition. Alfred does all of these, and at a much faster pace than Spotlight.

I think it’s a bit of an odd situation where I’m using two alternative pieces of software simply because I can type and receive feedback faster, instead of it being a feature comparison. One thing is for sure. It does represent my recent attitude towards software. Where I would rather things “get out of the way” and just let me get things done and fast. It feels like a type of maturity.

I have many thoughts on how this relates to iPadOS because I think the OS is slower in general. But I’ll leave that to another day.


  1. Music does have a short list of suggestions which do slowly appear as you type, but these aren’t actionable. They are simply links to a page in Music. ↩︎

  2. Sometimes I’ve found that you actually have to hit return more than once to get the results. ↩︎

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