Raycast: The Must-Have Spotlight Successor

2023-09-25

Raycast logo

What is Raycast?

Raycast is a free replacement for Spotlight, the built-in macOS system search. It's more than just a search tool; it’s a productivity powerhouse, a customizable companion, and a developer’s delight, all rolled into one sleek package.

Raycast was founded in 2020. Since then over 100,000 people use it and there are over 1,000 extensions. Right now the app is only available on macOS.

Replacement for Spotlight

Spotlight, available out-of-the-box for Macs, is a convenient feature allowing access to apps, files, settings, and even performing mathematical calculations with a simple command (⌘ Command + Space).

Raycast isn’t just a replacement for Spotlight; it can straight-up replace the need to use some other apps. It takes the foundational elements of Spotlight and enhances them with added customization, control, extensions, and scripts, transforming it from a simple search tool to a comprehensive productivity suite.

Raycast allows users to tailor their experience, offering a level of control and customization that Spotlight simply can’t match. It’s not just about finding files; it’s about creating a workflow that suits your needs.

Raycast and Spotlight together
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This beautiful screenshot was taken using the Window Capture tool in Raycast's Advanced settings.

Raycast Extensions

Once Raycast is installed, you can either find Extensions in the store or searching for Store in Raycast. The app also comes with a load of built-in extensions for things like the Calendar and Calculator.

Using extensions is as easy as typing a command, but you also have the option of binding every extension command to a keyboard shortcut.

Extensions can be added from the Raycast store or by searching for the word "store" in Raycast, providing users with a seamless way to enhance their Raycast experience.

Image of Raycast store

Some standout extensions include ScreenOCR, which extracts text from screen captures, and ray.so, which creates beautiful code screenshots, along with integrations for popular apps like Slack and Obsidian.

Security Concerns

However, it’s crucial to note the potential security risks, as the extensions are stored in a monorepo with relatively lax write permissions, making it possible for them to be updated by malicious actors.

Scripts

Raycast can run scripts in a number of languages. Bash, Apple Script, Swift, Python, Ruby, and Node.js. Meaning that you can likely adapt everything from Alfred (if you are using that app). Raycast has an internal API to help with writing scripts that will feel modern.

Users of Keyboard Maestro or Alfred will appreciate the simplicity offered by Raycast.

Script commands documentation

Community

The Raycast community is thriving, with hundreds of publicly available script commands that range from system control to timers, showcasing the versatility and adaptability of the platform.

Conclusion

Raycast is amazing. The app has proven to be a clear productivity boost for me and many others. Raycast is such an upgrade, that I believe it to be the right choice for practically everyone.

This app is new compared to the competition, and everything it brings to the table is impressive.

Check out Raycast