As a Windows user, you have probably struggled with the search tool and wondered if there's anything that compares with the Alfred application launcher on macOS.
While Microsoft is making efforts to improve the Windows search functionality, it still lacks the simplicity and necessary features in comparison to many third-party application launching apps made for productivity.
So, if you have exhausted your research ideas on third-party search tools and feel more confused than ever, then here's a brief list of Windows alternatives for Alfred to get you started.
Referred to as the "Alfred for Windows" by many, Wox displays quick real-time results. Once installed (which may not be a user-friendly experience for some), all you have to do is press Alt + Space to launch the app and begin searching. You can look for program files and perform web searches for IMDb, Wikipedia, Amazon and other popular sites.
The app has various built-in plugins that let you search for color hex codes, use a calculator, and even execute system commands.
To enable the commands, right click on Wox in the icon tray and choose Settings. Access the Plugin tab on top and choose Shell from the left column bar. Check the Replace Win + R box.
You can also customize the look-and-feel of the search bar by choosing from a range of Themes under Settings. For more value-added functionality, you can choose to download Everything as well (provided in the same link).
Download: Wox (Free)
Searching and launching applications with Listary is lightning fast. As soon as you complete the install and launch the app, it runs you through a quick tutorial highlighting basic search functionality. The default hotkey for the app is hitting the Ctrl key twice.
Once you start typing, you also see the options to search only files or jump into the Action menu with commands to cut, copy, paste, and more. The search bar goes a step further to offer access to favorites, recent items, and commands by expanding the ellipsis (three dots on the right of the bar) built into the bar itself.
The app has certain default keywords to choose from when you conduct a web search for popular sites including Gmail, Twitter, and eBay. To access Keywords and other settings, choose the Listary icon from the system tray and select Options.
The free version can do everything that you would typically expect from a search app and that's what makes it one of the best Windows file explorer extensions for file management. But if you feel the need to explore greater features, you do have the option to upgrade to a Pro version.
If you use Windows 10, you're using File Explorer. Try out these handy extensions to get more out of File Explorer!
The company calls it "A fast launcher for keyboard ninjas". That's what we experienced too. We recommend you have a zip file extractor handy prior to installation. You can bring up the Launch Box using the Windows default Ctrl + Win + K. With the app running in the background, you can launch it either using the hotkey or clicking the system tray icon.
You get results instantly on typing and can see the 'k' logo change to icons of popular websites or applications that you're searching for. You can do a couple of things like associate keywords with items, view bookmark suggestions, and extend system path locations by configuring the apps.ini file.
Compared to all the other apps on this list, Keypirinha settings have to be manually edited using a plain text editor as opposed to just accessing a built-in Settings or Options menu. Just right-click the Keypirinha icon in the system tray and choose Configure Keypirinha, which will open two notepad files side-by-side, one is a read-only file with a detailed 'how-to guide' and the second is for you to make changes.
This might be intimidating for you as a user if you're not comfortable playing around with a few lines of code. Although, there's nothing more to it than a simple copy-paste, which allows you to configure an extensible set of features.
The app also comes with a bunch of different packages that you can configure to your liking. For instance, the web search package allows you to run searches on supported search engines in the default system browser.
Begin by typing the name of a supported search engine or option like Yahoo, Twitter, or Wikipedia, and hit Tab. Now type the search query and hit enter again to open the search results page in your default browser.
Download: Keypirinha (Free)
Hain has a very clean and user-friendly interface with no bells and whistles. Upon launch, the app opens with a simple console highlighting its search bar and prompts you to try out a few things. Search results populate quickly and with ease. The app ignores some typos. For instance, you can get away with typing exel or wrd for Excel and Word respectively.
There are multiple plugins to search for popular websites, launch commands with cmd.exe, jot down simple notes, use the calculator, open URLs, and manage other tasks. You can also use the apps' built-in plugins for file search and file extension and either add or delete choices accordingly.
Hain also has a dedicated setting for the Window position, which could be set to a Draggable window or to Automatically remember window position. It can also be centered or set to a specific position on your desktop when you launch the app. Internal themes are limited to light and dark modes, but it offers external links for supported themes.
Download: Hain (Free)
Developed under the MIT license, Jarvis is by far the simplest Windows 10 search app. Alt + Space is the default hotkey and once you fire it up after installation, start searching for a query. The user interface is bare with a clean white search bar and has only two options under the Settings menu.
While one option is to check for updates and get update previews, the other is the File indexing option. You can choose to add access for folders and file extensions. It supports most of the extensions for various file types for audio, video, images, and documents.
There is no theme customization available for the app and the developers assert that it's built only for Windows 10. If you can use it on other versions of Windows, consider it a plus. The app is still under evolution and one can expect more features in the future.
Download: Jarvis (Free)
Which Windows Alfred Alternative Is Best for You?
While Windows has become more user-friendly overall, the search tool certainly has room for improvement. It's worth mentioning that while you can do more on Windows 10 with PowerToys, there's still a lot of ground to cover, especially in ease of use and functionality.
Just like Alfred, these third-party alternatives for Windows are minimal but offer better quality and faster searches. You could try them all and choose one that best suits your needs.
Windows Search is only good for basic and casual use. If you search Windows often, you may be better off with an awesome third-party search tool.