The majority of Mac users find Spotlight, Apple’s integrated tool for searching through apps and files, to perfectly suit their needs. However, power users that require nearly total control over their computer (along with access to shortcuts and tools) frequently look for other alternatives. Alfred, one of the longtime favorites of the group, has recently been challenged by an app called Raycast as a type of options.
I’ve been using Raycast for a few weeks now and have found it to be quite helpful. If you want to give it a try on your own, here are some recommendations.
After installing Raycast from the company website, it will walk you through a brief tutorial before asking you to give it a keyboard shortcut when you first launch it. Option-Space is the default shortcut for bringing up Spotlight, while it does offer instructions on how to switch to Command-Space, which is the usual shortcut.
The main Raycast screen, which features a search bar with a variety of options on what you may do, may be presented to you after you pass the setup page. Start typing, and any purposes and instructions Raycast discovers in your system will update these options.
Raycast can accomplish a lot on its own outside of the field. Of course, it performs the essentials: launches applications using keyboard shortcuts, provides answers to basic math problems, and searches for files; although, unlike Spotlight, Raycast does not automatically include files it finds with your applications; you must specifically tell it that you want to search for a file.
Here are some examples of basic Raycast tasks you can complete:
- Type the app’s name into the search bar and hit Enter to open it.
- Enter the basic math formulas as you would normally, such as “365/50” or “sq. root of 25,” to perform the computation. Entering the result replicates, it.
- Enter your query and select the Search Google option to search the internet. It will launch in your browser when you press Enter.
- File Search may be found by typing it in and pressing enter. The name of the file you’re looking for should then be typed in.
While that will get Raycast up and running for you, let’s look at some of the awesome features that make it worthwhile to invest in.
Searching, Modifying, And Adding
Spotlight or Alfred’s default setting will prompt you to search Google for the answer if you type something like “12 PM EST to PST,” “1 LB to KG,” or “20 BTC to USD.” Without requiring you to visit a browser, Raycast performs the conversion for you.
In my experience, Raycast is both faster than Spotlight and gives you more control. If Apple’s search engine returns the item you’re looking for as the second result, you must use the arrow keys or mouse to select it while keeping your fingertips off the home row. When viewing the search results in Raycast, you can hold down the command key and the programme will list numbers next to each result. Then all you have to do is press the number that corresponds to the desired outcome, and it will open. (Alfred has a system that is truly related.
Making A Move
In Raycast, pressing Command + Ok reveals a plethora of other actions you can take with a search result, each with an associated keyboard shortcut. When I find the item I’m looking for, for instance, I can use Raycast’s action menu to display it in Finder, copy it, or even display a list of other files in the same folder. The Raycast window has a “search for motion” bar in the lower right corner to help you find the action you need despite the fact that the menu’s abundance of options may be overwhelming. ( You may entirely disregard that bar if you want to. I used Raycast for a few weeks before I even realised it was there.
It’s challenging to avoid the app’s default search bar’s complexity. Due to how many things Raycast can perform for you, using it for the first time may be overwhelming. When you search “Mail,” the first result it shows you is Apple’s Mail program, but below it are options: “Do you need to search for this using Google? DuckDuckGo? Your list of contacts? If you’re coming from Spotlight, you might also get unexpected results since in addition to your applications, Raycast also shows system settings like a dark mode toggle, System Preferences panes, and other controls.
You can handle which instructions flash up underneath each search and even which of them can be found in any regard. However, I’d advise making an attempt them out for some time sooner than you do as a consequence of its these directions and Raycast’s retailer (from which you’ll set up new ones) that essentially make Raycast shine.
However, here’s how to turn everything off if you want to:
- Launch Raycast and enter “Extensions” The first option should become familiar with Raycast Preferences Extensions. Choose that.
- Uncheck the Enabled box next to a possibility to ensure that it never appears in search results.
- The options marked with a > to the left suggest that it is a class. To view all of the student instructions in the class, click on that. You can uncheck entire categories, such as System, which includes commands like Show Desktop or Empty Trash, or specific commands.
- Even better, you can prevent specific apps from appearing by expanding the Applications group and unchecking specific apps.
Type Manage Fallback Commands into the search area and press Enter to control the alternatives that appear beneath each search. Choosing devices from the Available portion and pressing Enter will cause them to appear, while choosing devices from the Enabled part and pressing Enter will prevent them from appearing.
Utilize Integrated Into Raycast
You can get a wide range of instructions to control the shape and size of the current app you are using by typing Window into Raycast. You can enlarge it, make it smaller, set it to fill the left side of the screen, and more. Additionally, a built-in notes tool is available for quickly recording ideas into a floating window. Even Raycast has a built-in command that causes a shower of confetti to appear on your screen.
You can find community-built extensions that let you control music playback, translate text with Google Translate, or start a Zoom meeting if you explore Raycast’s store (which you can access merely by typing Store into the search field). Since programmers are the ones who build extensions, it makes sense that the majority of them are aimed toward programmers; yet, there are many tools that practically all computer users would find useful. It is used by one of my coworkers to copy two-factor authentication codes from Authy.
Including Your Own Instructions
Using Quicklinks and Script Commands, you may even add customised functionality to Raycast without having to create a full extension for it. Quicklinks are comparatively easy to use; they let you search the internet using the text you have entered into Raycast. As an example, I have a quick search option that allows me to type “verge [insert search question here]” to obtain results from our collection of articles. I even have one that enables YouTube searches. More powerful script commands allow you to create your own mini-packages and sets of actions in a variety of languages (similar to Bash, Apple Script, Python, and Node.js).
The method for adding a Quicklink will depend on the website you are trying to search, and there are some interesting additional things you can do using parameters. I like to suggest reading up on Quicklinks in Raycast’s documentation to learn more about how to add one. It takes a lot more skill to set up script instructions because they include scripting (because the identify would counsel). But if you feel comfortable doing that sort of thing, you can start by reading Raycast’s documentation on creating Script Commands.
The Control Of Keyboard Shortcuts
You can give keyboard shortcuts to almost any command in Raycast if you really enjoy bragging about it or save a few moments on each search. I have an extension that allows me to search Apple Maps, and instead of having to type “Maps,” hit enter, and then type my query, I can just press Command + M to go straight to the Map search field.
One important thing to note about the keyboard shortcuts, which are completely programmable, is that they are common; they are active even if Raycast is not specifically activated. This is useful for some tasks since you can add keyboard shortcuts to Raycast’s window management tools and switch an app to full screen without even opening the tool. However, if you want to avoid using sophisticated keyboard shortcuts, it could be unpleasant. I tried setting my Verge search to Command + V, but I soon realized that I was unable to paste into any apps. So be careful with the combination you pick.
To give a command a keyboard shortcut:
- To access the Raycast preferences panel, run a search for Extensions in Raycast.
- Locate the command or application you want a shortcut for (there is a search area within the high left if you would like to minimise down on the scrolling).
- Then, hit the necessary keyboard shortcut while clicking the Record Hotkey button that appears next to it.
By placing your cursor over the hotkey area and clicking the X that appears, you can remove a keyboard shortcut.
A Better Experience With Raycast
Even though I’ve covered many of Raycast’s key features, it seems like I learn something new about it every day. I recently discovered that it will alert me to impending calendar events that have slipped my mind (utilizing the Command-Ok shortcut, I can dismiss this notification). Additionally, I discovered that I could change my cursor into a lightsaber and move my mouse about while it made swooshing noises until I toggled the feature again by entering lightsaber.
How Does Raycast Compare To Spotlight And Alfred?
While Raycast is packed with entertaining features, at its core, it serves the same purpose as Alfred. Raycast has a more modern appearance and feel, and it comes with a ton of free features out of the box (there are plans for a paid Teams model that can allow you to share snippets and scripts). Alfred offers many of the same possibilities, but only if you buy the Powerpack, which costs 34 British kilos (about $ 41 at the time of writing). Additionally, while Alfred excels in the ability to construct personalized actions, which it refers to as Workflows, these are undoubtedly one of Alfred’s paid choices.
It’s also important to note that Spotlight will receive a ton of improvements in the upcoming release of macOS, including the ability to run shortcuts. That can almost certainly be the only option if you’re searching for it.
Digging In More Details
I sincerely doubt that you should rush to switch to Raycast if you are an Alfred energy user who is using a paid version and who has your workflows and settings perfected until there is some absolutely essential feature that you have seen. But Raycast actually seems like the greatest option right now if you’re using Alfred’s free version or are looking to switch from Spotlight for the first time.
To be entirely honest, I had tried Raycast a few years prior but had given up on it partly due to its intricacy. But now that I’ve committed to reading it—a process that only required an hour or two of real reading—I can’t see returning to Alfred.