When you’re in a writing flow, the powerful and handy, Mac tool, Alfred, can make it super easy to retrieve and paste previously copied text in its clipboard manager.

Because I constantly copy and paste pieces of text in most of the writing I do, I use three clipboard managers (including iClip and Copy’em Paste) for different purposes. Alfred’s clipboard manager retains all your clippings in the background, and you can quickly access the manager using a keyboard shortcut, or a Keyboard Maestro string trigger.

Alfred is probably most used as an application and file launcher. You trigger Alfred using an assigned hotkey.  When the Alfred window pops up, you can, for example, type a Google search term, or a keyword to search and launch a file or folder.

Alfred can be used with Keyboard Maestro and BetterTouchTool.

You can also search your clipboard history and paste the selection in  the currently active application.  Here’s a quick demo of the clipboard manager in action. (Note: if the video doesn’t play, click to its direct link).

To search for a clipping in Alfred, you rarely have to type more than a few letters, or a word or two before what you’re looking for pops up. Alfred is extremely quick, and it remembers and defaults to the items you have searched before.


Alfred pretty much allows you to keep you fingers on your keyboard while searching for copied content. If the search result appears at the top of the list, you can simply click the Return key to paste the item. You might also keep typing and expand the search term to drill down through the search result list and bring the item you looking for to the top of the list. This approach is a lot faster than typing the Command +V shortcut to paste copied text.

You can set it up in Alfred’s preferences. There  you get several options, including setting your preferred hotkey and how far the clipboard history should retain copied items. (Note: I believe the clipboard feature in Alfred requires the pro version of the application.)


Notice also that you can type a keyword in the Alfred viewer to bring up the clipboard manager. You can also keep snippets of text, like URLs and canned email letters, in Alfred to search for and paste when needed. I prefer TextExpander for managing and pasting snippets of text, but Alfred could certainly come in handy for the same purposes.

String Trigger Action 

Because I don’t like using keyboard shortcuts, I prefer to trigger the Alfred window by using either a Keyboard Maestro string trigger or Dragon Dictate voice command.

By mapping the Alfred clipboard to a string trigger, I can simply type “clb” and it will open the clipboard history in the Alfred. From there I can perform my search without having to use the assigned hotkey.


Voice Command Action 

When I don’t want to type the string trigger, I can issue the voice command, “Clipboard,” and it will execute the above Keyboard Maestro macro.  I typically use the voice command when my hand is not already on the keyboard, but on the trackpad instead.

Dragon Dictate_action

Feel Empowered? 

If you’ve never used Alfred before, I think after learning and using it for a while, you’ll feel more like a Mac power user, because it enables you to keep your hands on the keyboard and perform all sorts of actions.

Be sure to subscribe to this site for more tips using Alfred, and would appreciate you feedback on how you use the clipboard history feature in Alfred or a similar application.




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