I've seen a lot of people talk about Alfred in the past year. I don't use it — apart from a quick download/launch/delete I have no experience at all with it. Not because it isn't a great tool, but simply because I already have a better option in my tool belt. But whenever I see someone writing or tweeting about it, I wonder why more folks don't give LaunchBar a try.
So many of us started out with Quicksilver. But, until quite recently, it appeared to be abandonware. Apart from that, there is always a risk when using free tools. Ben Brooks recently wrote about the Fragility of Free and used Quicksilver as an illustration:
When Quicksilver went away I paid for a version of LaunchBar and moved on with my life. 2 It’s not cheap, at $35, but that money gives the developer a reason to stick with development — it becomes a real business instead of just an elaborate hobby
I don't understand why more folks don't keep this concept in mind when it comes to the app launcher/utility knife category of applications. To me, there is no more important piece of software on my Mac (email clients come close, but email really runs on protocols, which makes switching clients mostly frictionless). Whenever I use a machine other than my own, this type of tool is the one I miss the most.
Like Ben, I was more than happy to pay for LaunchBar, replace the functionality I had in Quicksilver, and move on. Sure, it took some learning, but it more than does the job and saves me time in the general usage of my computer.
Before I made this choice though, I did fairly extensive comparison of three options in this category. You can read my post on this subject from last year. And although I had the following conclusion:
The point here is that you pick one that works for you. Then spend some time learning it — there are inevitably some other features included that can save you some of your time.
I was remiss in not adding this point: the fact that LaunchBar was actively in development played a role in my choice. Alfred may also be a good option, but the fact that the basic functionality comes for free would worry me slightly. As well, it doesn't appear to have the full feature set that LaunchBar does.
All this rambling is intended merely for this purpose: if you're giving some consideration to using a tool like Alfred, Quicksilver or the Google QSB, do yourself a favor and give LaunchBar a look as well.