Mastering Raycast: A Deep Dive into Features, Extensions, and Comparisons

An in-depth exploration of Raycast, highlighting its standout features, powerful extensions, and a detailed comparison with Alfred.

Felix Vemmer
Felix Vemmer
October 24, 2023
Mastering Raycast: A Deep Dive into Features, Extensions, and Comparisons

Welcome to my comprehensive guide on Raycast, a crucial tool in my daily stack that supercharges my productivity by allowing me to control my Mac with just a few keystrokes. Raycast is brilliantly designed to integrate with the apps and services I use every day, enabling me to execute actions faster than ever before.

In this guide, I will share my experience exploring the key features of Raycast, diving into its most useful extensions, and comparing it with Alfred, another productivity tool I've used. This guide is particularly beneficial for Mac users, as Raycast is currently not available for Windows. Whether you're a beginner or a power user like me, this guide has insights for you. So, let's dive into the world of Raycast and discover how it can revolutionize your workflow as it has mine.

Key Features of Raycast

Raycast is packed with a multitude of features designed to streamline your workflow and boost your productivity. From quick actions to powerful scripting, Raycast offers a range of capabilities that make it a standout tool in my productivity stack. In this section, I'll delve into some of the key features that make Raycast a game-changer for me.

Window Management

Once you've launched an app, Raycast allows you to manage its windows with ease. You can quickly switch between windows, close windows, and even move windows to different desktops. This feature is particularly useful for managing multiple windows on large screens.

Here is my setup for window management, which allows me to place windows on thirds and two-thirds of the screen:


Raycast allows you to create snippets for text that you use frequently. You type in a short keyword, and Raycast will expand it into the full text.

You can create snippets for anything from email addresses to code snippets. This feature is particularly useful for saving time when you're typing the same text over and over again.

Here are some of my personal snippet examples:

# My Link
!cal -
# My VAT number
!vat - DE359100888
# Backlink GPT Domain
!bg -
# Lemon Squeezy Affiliate Link for BacklinkGPT
!lmaf -

Clipboard History

I have set up Raycast to access my clipboard history using the shortcut ⌥ + c on my Mac. This feature has proven to be incredibly useful when I'm juggling multiple copy-paste operations.

It also includes a powerful search functionality, which allows me to quickly locate and retrieve any item from my clipboard history.

Launching Apps

Raycast allows you to launch apps with just a few keystrokes. You can launch apps by typing their name or by using a custom keyword. For example, I can launch Cursor by typing cursor or by using the keyword cur. This feature is particularly useful for launching apps that don't have a keyboard shortcut or are buried in your dock.

If you don't know about Cursor, check out my post on Cursor:

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I have set up Raycast to search for files and folders using the shortcut ⌥ + d on my Mac. This simple yet powerful feature allows me to view metadata and perform common actions on the files. It has proven to be incredibly useful for finding files that are buried deep in my file system.

Emoji Picker

Probably not the most critical feature but still very useful when you need to add an emoji to a message or document. I have set up Raycast to access the emoji picker using the shortcut ⌥ + e on my Mac.

There is also a GIF Search Extension that allows you to search for GIFs and copy them to your clipboard.

Whenever I have to log in to my Datev Duo Account for Tax Accounting, I used to google it every time. Now, with Raycast, I can set up a quick link to log in to my Datev Duo Account with just a few keystrokes.

Jumping into Online Meetings

Never miss another meeting with Raycast. It allows you to join Zoom, Google Hangouts, and more, without the need to search for a link. You can jump straight into your calls or check your upcoming schedule. When a meeting is selected, simply hit Enter to open up the meeting URL in the browser.

Best and Most Useful Raycast Extensions

In addition to the core Raycast Extensions, you can also install Extensions developed by the community. These extensions bring together everything you've been looking for in one place.

You can search and browse Extensions for your tools, actions, and more in the Raycast Store.

Below are some of the most useful Raycast Extensions I've found:


Quickly search and open your Vercel deployments.

If you're curious to learn more about Vercel and Next.js, check out this detailed post:

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Linear is a powerful extension that brings the functionality of Linear to every corner of your Mac. With it, you can create, search, and modify your issues with ease. It also allows you to stay on top of your notifications in the menu bar. I personally find it extremely useful for quickly finding issues or creating new ones on the fly.

Spotify Player

Spotify's most common features are now at your fingertips with this extension. You can search for music and podcasts, browse your library, and control the playback. You can even glance at what's currently playing directly from the menu bar.

Similar to the Spotify Player extension, there is also an Apple Music extension.


The easiest way to create and search for Notion pages.

CleanShot X

CleanShot X is a super useful screenshot tool and this extension allows you to access it with just a few keystrokes.


PostHog is a powerful extension that allows you to open the web app, search for projects, persons, feature flags, and cohorts. It brings the functionality of PostHog to your fingertips, making it easier to quickly open up the most important dashboards.

ChatGPT & Raycast Pro

In May 2023, Raycast launched Raycast Pro, a subscription service that unlocks a range of powerful features.

At the core of Raycast Pro is ChatGPT:

Write smarter, code faster and answer questions quicker with ChatGPT in Raycast. Deeply integrated into macOS and just one keystroke away.

Raycast Pro is a subscription service that unlocks a new level of your personal productivity for $10 per month.

What’s included in Raycast Pro:

  • Everything in Free
  • Raycast AI
  • Cloud Sync
  • Custom Themes
  • Unlimited Clipboard History

For an additional $10 per month, you can also get GPT-4 included.

Personally, I think the pricing is fair especially with the GPT-4 integration you end up at the same price as paying for ChatGPT directly.

However, I have not yet subscribed to Raycast Pro. I am keen on trying out the new ChatGPT Pro features as they are released. Moreover, for tasks related to coding, I personally believe that using cursor provides a superior developer experience.

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Installing Raycast

Raycast is open source and available for free. Currently, it is only available for Mac users. But according to this tweet, they are also working on an iOS app:

Raycast For Mac Users

Installing Raycast is super easy. Simply head over to the Raycast Website and download the app or install it via Homebrew:

brew install --cask raycast

Raycast For Windows Users

According to the Raycast FAQ a windows version might be in the works later on:

We want to nail the app for macOS first. Afterwards we will apply our learnings to the Windows and Linux clients.

Alfred vs Raycast

Initially, I started with Alfred, but my usage was quite brief. The shift to Raycast was influenced by tool god Dennis Zoma, its modern aesthetics and developer-centric approach. Raycast being open source with a fast-growing community of developers building extensions is a notable advantage.

Despite my brief encounter with Alfred, I delved into a Reddit discussion to grasp how other users perceive these two tools. Following further research, I also explored another Reddit thread which provided more insight. Here's an enriched synthesis of the user opinions from these discussions:

Efficiency and Usability

  • Alfred is lauded for its efficiency and fewer keystrokes to accomplish tasks, accelerating user experience. Its folder navigation and file move or copy actions are considered more ergonomic and in tune with MacOS's native interactions.
  • Raycast, although modern and sleek, tends to require more setup in terms of shortcuts to match Alfred's efficiency. Raycast's searches are often stalled behind a menu that needs to be triggered unless you configure additional shortcuts for each feature.

Functionality and Customization

  • Alfred is recognized for its no-code editor facilitating easy setup of actions and workflows. Its long-standing community has birthed a plethora of available workflows.
  • Raycast is appreciated for specific functions like date comparisons, baked-in unit converter, and calculator. However, its extension/workflow creation is tied to React.js, which might pose a challenge for those unfamiliar with the framework.

Privacy Considerations

  • Alfred is viewed as more privacy-conscious, only contacting servers for Powerpack license validation and software updates.
  • Raycast's privacy policy suggests a broader use of personal data for various purposes including analyzing interactions with their service, improving functionality, and promoting their business.

Community and Extensions

  • Alfred's longstanding community provides a wealth of workflows and examples which can be a boon for new users.
  • Raycast has a growing community and an easily accessible store for third-party extensions. Users find it easier to find and add extensions in Raycast.


  • Alfred requires a one-time purchase for its Powerpack to unlock full potential, which some users find worthwhile for the features it offers.
  • Raycast is free, but with hints of skepticism regarding data collection or future monetization. Raycast has a paid tier for teams and pro, and its recent AI integration requires a subscription.

Individual Preferences and Use Cases

  • Users with more coding experience or those seeking a modern UI lean towards Raycast, appreciating its out-of-the-box integrations and modern interface.
  • Alfred caters well to individuals looking for a reliable, efficient launcher with a straightforward setup and a rich history of community support.

Appearance and Memory Footprint

  • Raycast is often seen as more visually appealing with its preferences and user interface.
  • Alfred has been noted for its lower memory footprint compared to Raycast, which is around 130-150MB, making Alfred more lightweight.

The discussions suggest that the choice between Alfred and Raycast boils down to personal preferences, use cases, and the level of customization or coding expertise a user possesses. Both launchers have their strengths and cater to different user needs and experiences.