Memes fuzzy finder using Alfred, fzf and jq

Let's create a Alfred workflow to search for memes in a folder(our collection) and put that image in the clipboard so we can user it wherever we need it. Yes, it sounds useless but it was fun to made.

First we need to cover some things to understand how an Alfred workflow works. There are many types of elements to build a workflow, this time we're going to use 2 specific elements:

  • script filter: prepare a list of options that can be filtered along as we type

  • run script: run a command to send the selected option in the previous step into the system clipboard

Create a workflow

Let's go to Alfred settings/Workflows/+/Blank workflow

/images/blog/memes-fuzzy-finder-using-alfred-fzf-and-jq/create-blank-workflow.png

Name our new workflow, you can use whatever name you want, let's put "Meme fuzzy finder"

/images/blog/memes-fuzzy-finder-using-alfred-fzf-and-jq/name-new-workflow.png

Create a new element of type script filter

/images/blog/memes-fuzzy-finder-using-alfred-fzf-and-jq/create-script-filter-element.png

Now we need to make some adjustments over the defaults values:

/images/blog/memes-fuzzy-finder-using-alfred-fzf-and-jq/script-filter-initial-config.png

  • keyword if the word that will be used by Alfred to trigger this workflow, we're going to use meme so we can type meme something and it will return all the matches with something.

  • Use /bin/zsh instead of /bin/bash as language, there will be a bug if we use bash, more details later.

  • Select with input as {query} instead of with input as argv, this allow us to read a injected value instead of reading argv.

  • Now we need a script that makes the magic happens.

script filter can execute a script and it should return results in a json format like the following example:

{
  "items": [
    {
      "title": "it's alive.gif",
      "icon": {
        "path": "/Users/erick/Documents/memes/it's alive.gif"
      },
      "arg": "/Users/erick/Documents/memes/it's alive.gif"
    },
    {
      "title": "elmo on fire.gif",
      "icon": {
        "path": "/Users/erick/Documents/memes/elmo on fire.gif"
      },
      "arg": "/Users/erick/Documents/memes/elmo on fire.gif"
    }
  ]
}

Every element of an item has a meaning:

  • title will be shown while we type

  • icon/path will render a preview of the selection

  • arg will be passed to the next step

To produce this output we're going to use two tools:

  • fzf: fuzzy finder to select an image as we type

  • jq: tool to process json data

We're going to combine these tools in the following script:

# replace this with your collection folder
dir='/Users/erick/Documents/memes/'

# prepare a list of json elements using jq templating system
items=$(ls $dir | fzf -f {query} | jq --arg dir $dir -Rn '
def build_item($filename): {
    "title": $filename,
    "icon": {"path": "\($dir)\($filename)"},
    "arg": "\($dir)\($filename)"
};
[
    inputs
    | select(length>0)
    | build_item(.)
]')

# prepare the resulting json using the previous items and building a new json value
jq -n --argjson items $items '{items: $items}'

# this will send the result to ~stdout~, Alfred can read them from there

Some notes about the script:

  • {query} will be injected by Alfred when the workflow is active, we changed this after we create the workflow

  • Replace dir value with your collection folder, make sure directory ends with a /, this is required because we concatenate that value with filename

  • Replace calls to fzf and jq using an absolute path, Alfred doesn't load our /.zshrc so it won't know where to find those programs, we can get full path using which e.g which jq will return /opt/homebrew/bin/jq in my case

Now we have the script we need to copy it inside script filter, the result should be like this:

/images/blog/memes-fuzzy-finder-using-alfred-fzf-and-jq/list-filter-complete.png

We can check it's working using the debug tool in Aflred and typing the keyword and a query term, for example: meme elmo:

/images/blog/memes-fuzzy-finder-using-alfred-fzf-and-jq/script-filter-debug.png

Copy chosen image to clipboard

Now we need to define a second element, a run script action:

/images/blog/memes-fuzzy-finder-using-alfred-fzf-and-jq/new-run-script-action.png

This time we just need to change one thing, language to AppleScript and now we can paste the following code to take the selected choice and send it to clipboard:

on run args
  set the clipboard to POSIX file (first item of args)
end

The result should be:

/images/blog/memes-fuzzy-finder-using-alfred-fzf-and-jq/script-action-done.png

After that we should have a workflow with two components:

/images/blog/memes-fuzzy-finder-using-alfred-fzf-and-jq/complete-workflow.png

Demo

And now when we type meme elmo Alfred will show the result and when we hit enter that image will be copied to clipboard.

/images/blog/memes-fuzzy-finder-using-alfred-fzf-and-jq/demo.gif

Enjoy :)