HUGE PROPS to Matt Zak for being our resident Alfred enthusiast and pushing us toward better and more efficient tools. This article wouldn’t exist without him.
If you haven’t heard of Alfred yet, you’re missing out. Alfred is like your own virtual butler. You bark commands, and tasks on your computer are magically completed right before your very eyes. Even better? With Alfred workflows you can turn your butler into a super butler!
Alfred is also infinitely better than asking Jeeves, which apparently is still possible, but I can’t say I recommend it.
Alfred is an incredibly powerful app and something our support team has adopted to help us get things done more quickly, accurately, and efficiently.
There are certain tasks in WordPress Support that happen over and over again, and being able to shave a few minutes off each of these repetitive tasks not only saves time, but it also makes the work a little less mundane, which we all want.
Note: You will need Alfred with Powerpack to use any of the workflows below. We highly recommend it and you can purchase it here for £19 (which I believe is roughly $400 American dollars). OK it’s really around 27 US Dollars
Common WordPress Support Alfred Workflows
Most of the workflows that we’ve built are definitely going to be useful for the WordPress Support pros out there, and I know that hosting company’s support teams could benefit from these as well.
There are a lot of different ways to share workflows. Alfred has a built in sync function that you can use with a service like Dropbox, and we use a shared Github repository where we upload new workflows and pick and choose the ones we want to use.
Once a workflow exists, it’s really easy to share. Right click on the workflow and choose “Export”. That will create a .workflow file that you can easily open in Alfred by double-clicking, or share with your friends and teammates. There’s also a massive directory of workflows at Packal that you can download and install, or contribute your own too.
Word of warning: Once you go to Packal, you may be there for a while.
Now it’s time to get to the good stuff. Here’s our list of most-used Alfred workflows for support professionals!
Download WordPress Core
The true magic of Alfred is really highlighted when you start thinking about what’s really involved in a seemingly simple process.
Let’s look at an example like downloading WordPress. If I asked you to download WordPress and move it to a directory on your computer, you’d probably classify that as two steps, right?
It’s actually a nine step process to download WordPress and move it to another directory on your local machine. Let’s break it down:
Here’s what it takes to download a fresh copy of WordPress for local development:
- Open a browser
- Go to wordpress.org
- Click “Download”
- Click “Download” again
- Double click the zip archive
- Select all files
- Copy all files
- Browse to new directory
- Paste all files
It’s a nine step process ?
Alfred to the rescue! We created a workflow that handles this entire process with one quick command.
Launch Alfred (Cmd + Space for me. This can be customized in the robust app preferences) and type the following:
wpcore 4.8.2 (to download WordPress 4.8.2. The version number is required).
And you’re done!
Note: We designed this workflow specifically for DesktopServer. You should be able to make it work in any local development environment with a quick tweak
Download any version of a WordPress theme
Tracking down old versions of themes from the WordPress repository can be pretty daunting and it’s definitely time consuming.
Lucky for us, all of the theme packages have a nice consistent naming convention we can use to download old versions of themes directly with Alfred.
wptheme and then the theme slug and version to download it.
By entering the themes’s slug (the name used in the compressed zip package) and version number, we can pull the theme directly from the WordPress.org servers. This can be really useful when troubleshooting a horribly out of date theme, or some breaking changes in a recent update.
Copy Fresh Salts for WP-Config
This is another one that doesn’t come up incredibly often, but in 2017 we still see plenty of WordPress sites that aren’t using salts to encrypt cookies. This blog post goes into a ton of technical detail about why that matters, but for the purposes of this article, suffice it to say salts are really important to have for the security of your website.
wpsalts Alfred workflow you can download fresh WordPress salts and have them automatically copied to your clipboard without even opening a browser. It’s super quick and easy.
Then paste the salt keys into your wp-config.php file and save. It’s that easy.
Check HTTP Headers for a Website
When you’re troubleshooting redirects or checking response codes on a server, there are a whole bunch of ways to go about it. There are a few online tools we like to check website headers and make sure they aren’t returning anything too strange.
SEOBOOK has a really handy online header checker that doesn’t have CAPTCHA or any other roadblocks, so we setup an Alfred workflow to check server responses via Alfred.
If I simply type
headers domain.coma query for the SEOBOOK headers tool is fired off and gives me back the results pretty much instantly.
If you find yourself checking server responses at least a few times per month, you’re going to want this workflow in your tool belt.
Open a Trac Ticket
Browsing WordPress Trac can be pretty daunting, so this Alfred workflow takes you right to the ticket you’re looking for as long as you know the reference number.
This particularly comes in handy when you see a Trac ticket number referenced in WordPress Slack and aren’t exactly sure what it’s for.
All you need to do is type
wptrac ticketnumber and the detail page of the trac ticket will load up in your default browser.
SSL Server Test
The best tool we’ve found for gathering all the details for an SSL certificate and its configuration is the Qualsys SSL Labs test. It’s extremely thorough and gives a detailed report of everything you could possibly want to know about the SSL certificate you’re checking.
Thanks to Zach Tollman for recommending this tool to me a few years ago. We use it every single day.
To get the detailed report from Qualsys you can fire off an alfred workflow by typing
ssl domain.com. Then it’s just a matter of waiting for Qualsys to generate the report and you’re good to go!
Perform a Sucuri SiteCheck
Sucuri has been a great partner for us over the years, and they provide a really nice security scanning tool that checks your site for malware, defacements, injected SPAM, and whether or not your site is on any blacklists.
And while the site may not be able to detect every security issue, it can certainly spot a lot of them right off the bat.
With this Alfred workflow we type
sucuri domain.com and instantly get a read out from their security scanner. It’s legit.
Get Whois Data for a Domain
Whois is an incredibly powerful command line tool that returns all sorts of useful information about a domain like the owner, where the nameservers are pointed, etc. With the whois Alfred workflow we make the barrier to entry for getting this data even lower.
Some people like to use browser tools for this. Unfortunately they’re usually littered with CAPTCHA or annoying ads, and other people are downright intimidated of the command line. With Alfred, we put the command line tool at your fingertips in a less daunting way.
You can’t screw up. Type
whois domain.com and your terminal will launch immediately and do a whois search for the domain automatically. Best of both worlds!
Try and keep it simple
Most of the workflows here are relatively basic, but they’re also incredibly useful. You can do some pretty crazy stuff with Alfred, and we’ve really just begun to unleash the power of Alfred.
We’ve also found that automating some of the more basic tasks that we repeat over and over again is the most practical way to get the most out of Alfred, at least for us.
The danger with automation is highlighted perfectly in this XKCD cartoon.
We don’t want to spend so much time working on our tools that we we stop getting work done, so we try and stick to the straightforward tasks that are pain points most often. So far, it’s worked out pretty nicely.
alfred start discussion
Have you used Alfred before? How has it been? What type os stuff are you using Alfred for every day? Hit us up in the comments!