LaunchBar vs Alfred

I have used Alfred for quite some time but I learned recently about the Instant Send feature of Launchbar which seems very nice. Also there is a 3rd party integration of Launchbar with Devonthink (available on Github) which does things I could not do with Alfred and Devonthink.

Can others comment on whether they prefer Alfred or Launchbar? Do some people use both or does that make no sense?

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Check out Mac Power Users 286: Launcher Smackdown and #497: Spotlight, Alfred & LaunchBar

Also the discussion for the latter podcast:


I’m a longtime LaunchBar user, but I went Alfred-only for about three months early last year. Wanted to give it a fair shake, but I never got used to it and was immediately comfortable when I switched back. Everyone’s taste is different, but I never liked Alfred’s way of drilling down through subfolders, something I do a lot.

Very hard to make a judgment for someone else on this. They do essentially the same things but in slightly different ways.


I recently switched to Alfred after using LaunchBar for many years.

Some factors that prompted me to switch:

  • I have two Macs (and iMac and a MacBook Pro). Being able to sync between the two is very helpful. There are ways to sync LaunchBar settings, but they’re clunky and not officially supported.
  • Alfred’s documentation is much better. In fact, there still isn’t any documentation specific to LaunchBar 6, even though it released in 2014.
  • While the LaunchBar team has maintained macOS compatibility over the years, Alfred appears to be in more active development.
  • While I can understand the power user value of the timed typing, it never really stuck for me.
  • Workflows open up all kinds of possibilities and are generally very straight forward to implement. There’s also an extensive library of Workflows to draw from, including ones from Alfred and ones from users.

There are a few things I miss from LaunchBar, most notably the Instant Send feature. But, overall Alfred is a much better fit for me, for now at least.


I’m in the diehard LaunchBar camp, and Instant Send is one of my favorite super powers.

[EDIT] LaunchBar makes doing so many things easy and w/o having to take your fingers off the keyboard. For example, I have created search queries to search all my most used websites directly from LaunchBar. It sounds not that important. After all, how hard is it to press command-L and type a search in Safari? But if you have multiple monitors and your browser is lost or buried on one, you invoke LaunchBar, type the shortcut, press enter, enter your query, and press return. Voila! Your browser gets the focus, and your search is executed. I use it dozens of times throughout the day.

I connect to some network volumes at home. It used to be a pain to connect and disconnect. I’d go to Finder, Press command-K, connect to the server, select the shares, and then have to close a half dozen finder tabs that opened once the volumes mounted. I made life easier by creating two simple AppleScripts (saved as applications) to mount and unmount the shares that I normally access, and just launch the scripts from LaunchBar.

Want an easy way to switch from Dark Mode to Light Mode? There’s a LaunchBar action for that.

LaunchBar is great!


Here are various iterations of the Alfred workflow I use for this:

I like instant send and the way launch bar drills through folders. But, I use Alfred because I can pause during typing - sometimes as I get older I have to pause longer. When I use Launchbar I feel a little rushed because I need to get all the letters in before my time runs out.


Not being a LaunchBar user, I’m not sure I follow what the instant send is doing. To do a search in your default browser using Alfred, simply enter the query and press ctrl+return and it will run the query in your browser using the default search engine. There are also settings to use different search engines if you desire.

What am I missing re: instant send?

Instant send is separate from what I’m talking about. I was describing a search template. “With the Instant Send feature, LaunchBar’s fifth superpower, you select an item before you invoke LaunchBar, thus sending that item to LaunchBar when you invoke the bar. And, LaunchBar is then primed to let you do something with the item by sending it along to some target, such as an app, action, service, location, or search template.” Excerpt From: Kirk McElhearn. “Take Control of LaunchBar (1.1).”

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I much prefer LaunchBar over Alfred. It looks and feels like more native to macOS to me than Alfred.

I also use it for for file navigation and find it better than Alfred. The ability to select a file or a few files, invoke instant send, and then copy or move them to other folders depending on which modifier key you’re holding down (Option to Copy, Command to Move etc.) is something I can’t do without, and ties in with macOS.

I agree that Alfred seems to be more actively developed though, and the forum, shared workflows etc. does make LaunchBar start to feel that it’s only being maintained versus developed.

Because of this I’ve started to try Alfred again, but it soon became clear why I like LaunchBar so much. I don’t like the look and icon style versus LaunchBar. Alfred’s look pretty ugly versus LaunchBar’s more macOS look and feel. I like how easy it is to create custom Spotlight searches/filters for specific file, file types etc. In Alfred, but I’ve still managed to the same thing in LaunchBar (admittedly with more work).

I’m hoping that the devs are working on updating LaunchBar instead of just bug fixes, but I’m not optomistic.


I’ve only used Alfred and I’m not a power user and so, I like the simplicity of Alfred to launch app and search for files. I also use Alfred for simple arithmetic calculations and, unit conversion (with a workflow). I also use it to quickly create emoji to be included in emails and chats (again a workflow). I think I invoke Alfred tons of time a week doing the above. It serves me well and I didn’t find I needed any alternatives.


Alfred is very customizable.
See for some examples.


Yes. I’m a longtime old LaunchBar user, first purchased in 2003, and I still have v.6.x on my system, but I don’t use it as I find Alfred to be faster and not as obtuse/complicated as LaunchBar. (LaunchBar can be more powerful in some cases but I don’t need those features.) And you can make it look practically any way you want.

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You can change the duration of the time before it starts again, think I stretched mine to a second.

It is, but that bookmarks icon makes my eyes bleed :sweat_smile:

Versus the more native Mac looking one in LaunchBar.

I don’t like the Files Actions icons and the teal colour scheme, and I haven’t found a way of changing them.

And I don’t care for the whole purple thing going on in the Preferences.

Maybe if you’re still running Panther

Ouch! :rofl:

I guess I do if that’s how Alfred looks.

…and the nice thing about LaunchBar is that if you don’t like something you can change it.

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Sorry for going off-topic, but are you this Jono Hunt?

And is this also your work?

If so, love your work!

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Haha that’s just what I associate with those Aqua icons :slight_smile:

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Yes, that’s me. And thanks! :slightly_smiling_face:

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