How You Use Alfred: Mattias Arrelid, Spotify’s Director of SDK

In this series, we are taking a look at how some users have adopted Alfred in their workplace. They’ll give us a glimpse of how they use Alfred, how they stay productive and what it’s like working for some of the companies we know and love. Last week, we spoke to Ryan Cowles, Happiness Engineer at Automattic.

This week, Mattias Arrelid, Director of the Spotify SDK, shares how he uses Alfred while working on the latest version of Spotify – a service that fuels us with music every day while we work!

Who are you, and what keeps you busy?

My name is Mattias Arrelid, and I’m on a (never-ending) journey to make Spotify infrastructure better™ across all our supported platforms. Lately, this has manifested itself in some much needed tightening of our build & release infrastructure empowering our mobile & desktop apps, as well as some mentoring for one of my teams who is replacing the beating heart that is our player interface that all our features (radio, search etc.) use to play things inside our apps. Exciting times!


On my desk, an Aeropress and some coffee, gloves (yes, this is Sweden), a MacBook Pro Retina 13″ (which may just be replaced this month) and a Cinema Display

How long have you been using Alfred?

That’s one fine, albeit tricky, question right there. Looking through my archived e-mails, I see the first newsletter from you in late February 2011. That said, I was obviously a cheapskate until late 2012 – that’s when I bought the Powerpack. To compensate, I opted in for the Mega Supporter option once I gave you my money…

What aspects of Alfred make your workday more productive?

The workflows, period. Being a big fan of Quartz Composer and scripting in general, it feels pretty damn amazing to have almost limitless functionality at the tip of your fingers at a cost that’s close to zero in terms of setup and complexity.

I don’t even want to think about how much time people spend repeating dull operations in their everyday work-life, when they could be using workflows instead.

Are there any workflows you’ve created or imported that you’d recommend?

Since I’m always running the latest and greatest internal Spotify builds, I’ve constructed a small set of workflows that easily lets me perform common debugging operations. One is starting Spotify with a certain cache and/or username – this has proven itself very valuable when it comes to error reporting, since you always want to prove your bug on a clean install of the app/version combo in question. Combine this with another little script that parses the Info.plist to pick up the version number and place it in the clipboard – I don’t even want to know how many times I’ve used this when reporting/confirming bugs in Jira…

Another workflow I’ve been tinkering around with is one that allows me to easily message/call people using my iPhone. I guess Continuity wasn’t that bad after all, especially combined with the powers of app URIs (that lets you invoke iMessage/Facetime with your contact’s details). I know something similar is available publicly already, but I wanted more granularity in what operation to perform (like FaceTime with or without video).

Another gem that I can’t live without is the IMDb workflow. I love their database, and this workflow gives me the option to just bypass their not-so-nice search box and find the right movie directly from within Alfred itself.

Thanks for answering our questions, Mattias. May Spotify continue to fill our ears with great tunes (and weird back-catalogue tunes too) every day as we work and play!

Want to make your team productive too with the Powerpack? Take a look at our corporate licensing scheme and drop us a line to find out more.

How You Use Alfred: Ryan Cowles, Automattic Happiness Engineer

In this new series, we’ll be taking a look at how some users have adopted Alfred in their workplace. They’ll give us a glimpse of how they use Alfred, how they stay productive and what it’s like working for some of the companies we know and love.

Today, we begin the series in good company, with Ryan Cowles, who is a Happiness Engineer for Automattic, who you’ll also know best as the company behind I’ve been using WordPress for over 10 years now, so it’s great fun to see people like Ryan are there to keep WordPress users happy!


Who are you, and what keeps you busy?

Hi there! I’m Ryan. I work for Automattic (the company behind, Jetpack, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff). I’m a Happiness Engineer, and most of the work that I do is supporting the Jetpack plugin. This involves answering support requests, beta testing, bug hunting, and most importantly, helping our users get the most out of Jetpack.

The work can vary quite a bit from day-to-day. But, whether I am responding to a support request or troubleshooting a Jetpack bug, Alfred is a staple in my workflow.

How long have you been using Alfred?

I’ve been using Alfred for over two years. I started using it for the basic features; Making quick calculations, launching apps, running a quick Google search, and entering system commands. Those features alone made Alfred an integral part of my work day. But when my coworker Bryan introduced me to workflows, that took my usage to the next level.

What aspects of Alfred make your workday more productive?

I rely heavily on workflows. I have one that boots up my local work environment. Instead of opening apps and URLs one at a time, I simply enter my work’ keyword and everything is open and ready to go. And just for good measure, Alfred also sends me a “Good Morning” message.

Custom searches are another great feature. I use a lot of debugging tools, many of which live at specific URLs. Fumbling through bookmarks, pulling up the page, and then entering a URL each time can get exhausting. So, I avoid that process with custom searches.

I communicate with users via text a lot, too. Sometimes it’s an email, sometimes it’s a forum post, and sometimes it’s a comment reply. I have a database of snippets that I use in these situations. This allows me to quickly enter text or drop a link without memorizing a URL. When you’re typing all day, saving those extra keystrokes is a huge efficiency boost.

During these conversations, I sometimes need help with a word. And once again Alfred is there to assist. I can pull up the definition, thesaurus, or spellcheck without disrupting my flow of writing. I’ve also installed Webster’s 1913 Dictionary, which I can search right from Alfred. This comes in handy when I’m doing some creative writing and OS X’s thesaurus just doesn’t cut it.

Are there workflows you’ve created or imported that you’d recommend?

There are quite a few! In no particular order, here are some of the ones that I swear by:

Alfred GistI often share code snippets with users and coworkers. This workflow allows me to create a Gist that I can share without needing to leave my editor.

ColorsWhen working with CSS, I often need to convert colors to different formats. The Colors workflow allows me to do just that, and quickly insert the result.

OS X Toolbox: The author of this workflow calls it a “one stop toolkit to fix common annoyances and toggle states in OS X.” Using the ‘tb’ keyword you can relaunch finder, purge inactive memory, and a lot of other helpful system actions.

TodoistI use Todoist to keep track of my tasks. And of course, there’s a workflow that allows me to automate that process. I bring up Alfred, and type `todo` followed by the task. Then it’s sent directly to my Todoist Inbox and I can file it later.

RenameThis is a powerful one. You can batch rename any number of files in a directory. You can use custom numbering, add dates, use regex, and a whole lot more. I use it a lot when organizing my photos, but it can be used for any filetype.

WordPress Developer ReferenceWordPress has an incredible amount of developer documentation. It would be impossible to memorize every function or hook. So I use a workflow to reference them. I have all the documentation at my fingertips, searchable with autocomplete.

A couple of my friends/coworkers have written posts about their favorite workflows, too:

What’s the first feature you show off when you introduce a friend or colleague to Alfred?

That’s a tough call. There are so many cool things that you can do with Alfred, so it’s hard to choose just one. From now on, I think I will just link them to this post.

Alfred has proven to be an invaluable tool. It is productivity and efficiency rolled into one single app. I can’t imagine my day without it!

Thanks Ryan for sharing your thoughts with us, and thanks to Automattic for helping make the web a more interesting place to read!