What makes Raycast special?

Great post @Cpenned

I think Raycast is great, but I would shed some light from my perspective.

Alfred has this. You can press Tab on the command / action / file / folder that you are triggering and it will show these commands. Not a lot of people know this.

Alfred also has universal actions. If you are on a file or a piece of text or URL, can you perform 100s of actions on it. My shortcut is double tap Shift key and, these 100s of actions show up. It’s system wide. This replaced so many apps for me.

I think this is where Alfred shines. You can write a script in any editor you want, and just trigger it from Alfred workflow. You don’t have to fiddle with the UI. Although I do think the UI is very powerful, maybe not for you since you are in getting your hands dirty. But the advantage of that UI is that non-coders can also make workflows for themselves, which isn’t that easy with Raycast

Again, Alfred has great advantage here. You can use React and Typescript, but also use Python, Go, Ruby, shell etc to make workflows.

Most importantly, Alfred is made by a team of 2 people (maybe 3 max) in contrast to Raycast, which is a bunch of people (15-20 the last time i checked a few months ago).

Alfred does not market their feature well enough. That does not mean they are not well documented, they are. But their feature promotion isn’t that good, so most people don’t know about 70% of the features. Raycast is good with this with brand promotions and website sponsorships etc.

Alfred focuses on customer privacy and does not have any interest in VC money and unlike Raycast, which is free, but that is too good to be true. They did say they will be making money from corporate licensing but of course, when something is free “You’re Not the Customer; You’re the Product”

I think it’s OK for a free product, but I don’t think it comes close to the Alfred in terms of feature and speed and community.

If someone is fine by using an app that might move to subscription model after taking VC funding sometime in the future (like 1Password), I would not wanna invest in it, but to each their own

EDIT: A few users above mentioned the Raycast workflows page, which I strongly agree is better and consolidated. Alfred team could/should do the same

PS: I have made a post on the Alfred forums, let’s see if they’d consider a consolidated workflow repo like Raycast

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I found Alfred does have some consolidated workflows

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Thanks for the tip.

Yeah, I for me as well that’s one of the biggest selling points of Raycast. They have an amazing store ecosystem already which is rapidly growing and a great extensions API. In terms of extension, I do believe Raycast has moved past Alfred in terms of design and capability. As a developer, the Typescript and React implementation makes me smile :relaxed:.

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Appreciate the feedback! Your post helps me understand why people like Alfred as much as they do and helped me learn some new things about Alfred!

Perhaps my current preference for Raycast has more to do with approachability, marketing, and/or the newness of the app? With Alfred, you can do so much that when I looked into it, I was getting into my own way trying to write my scripts. Yes, you can customize the look and tweak every setting, but I just wanted it to look nice and accept my custom scripts. Raycast gave me that and more. It took 20 seconds to see the straightforward implementation of both 1) scripts and 2) official extensions. It was a simple, “Ah, I get it“ and I just started writing in my preferred scripting languages. “Growing up with Raycast” is probably why it seems so approachable to me.

Like I’ve said a few times, Alfred doesn’t need to prove itself. It’s the standard for a reason. And I don’t blame people for sticking with it. It’s a beast. Thanks for the extended explanation. That was really helpful for me! (And it’s nice to know that if the VC funding ever makes Raycast go sideways, I can just port my stuff over to Alfred without any work :slight_smile: ).

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I’m back to trying Recast after a brief look several months ago. I love the little built-in interactions, such as being able to enter and view Reminders and calendar events right from the UI. Is there anything similar for Messages, or via something in the Store? I couldn’t find anything. (One of my most-used LaunchBar features is to start typing “Compose” and then selecting a Message action which pops up a composition window, without ever opening Messages, where I can type a message to someone and send it via the Messages app.)

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Alfred users, I got a response from the Alfred team. They said the app store is on their radar and they have a few ways to implement it.

Importantly, they said a some very special things are coming out this year.

@BradG @kennonb @SetKu @zkarj

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Yay! Can’t wait for what might be in these new updates.

Looking forward to seeing the new features and updates.

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This has been a useful post. I tried Raycast for 1 day. I started using it because of the window management features. But, I followed MacSparky’s keyboard maestro guide for window management and have the actions mapped to a layer on the keyboard. Admittedly, I am the wrong person to appreciate Raycast, as I do not program anything. I do not totally understand creating actions in Alfred, but I can usually kludge something together.
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Sometimes, a bit of fresh competition can prompt the incumbents to stir and re-establish their dominance (or this was always on their radar).

Either way, that’s great to hear.

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Asking the question a different way …

Are there things that:

  • You prefer Alfred (or your current tool*) for?
  • You prefer Raycast for?

And is there a reason you would not use both for the things you prefer?

* not just apps like Launchbar, Quicksilver, Butler, but also Moom, Stay, Rectangle, Texepander, Typinator, to list a few, which you prefer for specific use cases.

For example, I have Alfred with the Powerpack. But I prefer Typinator for text expansion. On the other hand, I use Alfred for clipboard history, instead of a dedicated clipboard app.

So I could see tuning both Alfred and Raycast, if there were things I preferred about each. Just like I use both Moon, Stay, and Better Touch Tool for window management.

And of course I understand there cognitive is a cost to learning multiple apps, as well as a financial cost in some cases (as with my Moom, Stay, and BTT example).

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I had suggested Raycast for the April Software of the Month topic, and this was exactly the type of discussion I was hoping for.

So thank you for starting this thread.

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Agreed! Healthy competition is great for everyone!

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Yay! I’ve wanted an easy timer on my Mac, and this is good. Thank you.
I’d love a couple more options in the short ones (without going into custom), like 3 minutes and 8 minutes.
Or if the custom saved ones were quicker to access.

BUT, I’ve wanted a timer for ages and haven’t found anything I liked, and I like this, so thanks for contributing and I love it how it is already :slight_smile:

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I’m enjoying Raycast, and am going to stick with it for a while, or maybe permanently. Two things I’m currently missing, although I could just be overlooking things:

  • quick access to recent documents on a per app basis. In Launchbar, for example, you can start typing an app name, and then type a modifier key to see the app’s most recently used documents. This can be done with the app not running, and let’s you launch the app directly into that document

  • as mentioned a few posts above, sending a message via the Messages app, from the Launchbar interface, without ever opening Messages

These are two of the most-common things I do with Launchbar, so I hope I’m not sticking with Raycast just because it’s new and shiny. Wouldn’t be the first time. :grinning:

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I can’t respond to this thread without first pouring one out for QuickSilver. RIP. QuickSilver is what made me fall in love with macOS in the first place. I then moved on to LaunchBar when it was no longer supported and never did give Alfred a try. I didn’t like the UI.

I got a new laptop for work in November of last year and decided to try Raycast. I did not install LaunchBar in an attempt to force myself to learn it and not revert back within days. Muscle memory was the hardest thing to overcome—having to invoke an additional key or type a phrase to start searching for files or go through my clipboard history was a pain at first. Adding a command helped with this significantly. However, the thing that did me in was the file search. I could select what folders were in the Index for LaunchBar, so my search never drilled down to files and folders that were not my active projects. Another missing feature for me was the “Send To”, where I could use a special command to take the selection (often a file in Finder) and choose what app to open it with. Turns out someone has since made a Raycast extension for that called Open With App. If only I were patient—I did try Raycast for 5 months before giving up.

Ultimately, I didn’t go back to LaunchBar… I went to ScriptKit and I have not turned back. Creating extensions or scripts is an absolute breeze and you can easily load npm libraries if needed. I have all the features I use the most and then some.

  1. App Launcher
  2. Clipboard History
  3. File Search
  4. Open File With / Send To
  5. Calculator
  6. Trigger my Personal Scripts
  7. Integrated Terminal
  8. Snippets

I’ll eventually put together a post of what I’m doing with it and my custom scripts. The community is great. The developer streams his work on the Kit app and has a video course for getting started. At this time the only thing I’m missing from LaunchBar or Raycast is the ability to pull open my calendar and automatically open the invite link to whatever call I need to join (most likely MS Teams or WebEx). If someone else hasn’t developed that plugin yet, I’ll get started when I have the time.

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As I noted in another thread, when there is a choice to make, I select all of the above. It’s what I do. :man_shrugging:

So I just downloaded ScriptKit. There goes my weekend …

I am concerned that this is a single developer and it is free, although it is open source.


Update: Free for now. I found this while looking around on the website: " 1. Script Kit Pro. A paid version with additional features not found in the base version. Not ready to talk about it, but it’s exciting!"

I am encouraged that the is a plan to make this a viable business. Also interesting that there are beta versions for Linux and Windows.


And if I like it I’ll have a reason to finally learn JavaScript!

Thanks, I think …


Update 2: One can call Script Kit scripts from Raycast …


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For the first of your pain points, I don’t think you can currently do that with Raycast. For the second, I’ve just mapped the contacts to a shortcut so I can invoke it automatically and start typing for a contact. One keyboard press and you’re writing a message to that contact. I’ve also added an AppleScript for my wife and set it as a special keyboard shortcut so from anywhere in my system I can press a key, type a message to her, and hit return to send her a message.

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Thanks! I’ll check out your AppleScript. As far as mapping the contacts to a shortcut, do you mean you just set a keyboard shortcut to launch the contacts app?

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On a related note, I discovered that at some point I made a Shortcut in the Shortcuts app to text my wife. If I start typing the name of the shortcut in Raycast, I get the same popup window that happens in LaunchBar. I stumbled upon this, but there might be something to work with there.

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That ended up being easy enough. I took the shortcut I mentioned in the previous message, and edited it to remove the recipient, and I named it “Compose Message.” Now if I start typing “Compose Message” in Raycast, I can select that shortcut, and I get the same popup that I previously got in LaunchBar. I keep the “Show When Run” box checked, and I can do it all in one window. If that box is unchecked, which some might prefer, you first get prompted for a recipient, and then for the content of your message.

Here is what I see in Raycast when typing the name of the shortcut:

And then here is what the popup windows looks like:

And here is the super-simple shortcut that makes all that happen:

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