Episode 46 – Casting Rays

Peter wants to know how Scott's using Raycast, so Scott tells Peter how he's using Raycast. That's pretty much it! We do drink beer, and we do talk about the beer, so there's that. But it's all fun because beer in extreme moderation is fun, and Raycast in giant doses is fun!

Friends with Brews!

Hi Peter!

That is a fail. Oh my god. The epic failure continues!

It’s a Monday, what do you want?

Hey Peter, I have a sound clip that I’ll play as though you were playing it to me.

Okay great.

Great Scott!

Great Scott! Well you’re great Scott and I’m Peter and neither of us needs an introduction but we have introductions which is great and I’m also drinking a beer that needs no introduction but I’ll introduce it just the same. Returning one of the few repeats we have here is Golden Road Brewing’s Mango Cart. Back for another year and back for another beer.

I think that’s perfectly fine. And I have… Peter can you see?

Tres Arroyos Mexican Lager.

Tres Arroyos, yeah. Three creaks. And I’ve had three creeks on here before but I had the chocolate.

That’s what I said. I said that.

Yeah, three creeks, brewings, tres o royos, Mexican lager.

Tres o royos. Tres.


Tres o royos. Cool.

So you’ve opened yours noisily. I shall open mine.

That was a nice pop.

And now the pour. I’m sorry if this makes you go to the bathroom listener.

Well mine won’t.

I don’t know.

Okay there we go.

All right Peter you’ve talked about your beer before but since that was in a previous episode go ahead and talk about it some more right now. Tell us what you think of it, your history with it, how long you’ve been romancing that beer.

Mango cart. I first had it, I want to say two summers ago or maybe it was last summer. I don’t remember now. It’s a nice, light, refreshing, sweet mango flavored beer. What more do you need to say?

I don’t think you do.

Golden Road Brewing and it is a whopping 4% alcohol so it goes down smooth and won’t get you drunk until you drink a lot of it.

speak for yourself okay I what is this so this three creeks brewing Mexican lager tres Royos where is the percentage 4.5 percent so it’s very similar

drink a lot of that too

and it is likewise a well it’s Mexican lager it’s you can see from the color it’s not heavy it’s a nice and light color it’s good it tastes about like what you would expect it’s very non-offensive it’s very light it’s very easy to drink it has a slight bit of zing to it oh yeah it says traditional flaked maize, maize adds just a touch of sweetness.

Maise, that’s corn isn’t it?

Yeah so I believe it this is good stuff I like this they call it the easy drinking cerveza. Okay. I like it I do like it this is a good beer this is a good thing with what you would consider summer foods and stuff stuff like that.

Okay, good. We’re both drinking summery foodie beeries.


So, Scott, we have tons of things we could talk about but -

But we won’t. Bye! Oh, what, too soon? Literally too soon?

Yeah, where were we?

You said we have tons of things to talk about but you were gonna lead us away from talking about any of them.

Right, because I was gonna lead them into you talking to us about Raycast.


Yeah, so talk to me. What’s Raycast all about?

Okay, well look, if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re also a listener to a lot of the other Apple-related tech podcasts, you may be sick of hearing about Raycast. I know I was! And to be honest, I didn’t really want to like Raycast because I was already using… I was already using… What’s it called? not Albert. Oh my god, starts with an A. Al. Fred. Alfred5. Yes, I was using Alfred, not Albert. And these apps fall in the category of what are known as “launchers,” which is a little bit weird because at this point in time they are far more than just launchers. They can certainly launch apps, etc, etc, but there’s so much more than that, and it’s those other more than that things that I find fascinating. And it’s actually those other more than that things that Raycast is better at for me than Alfred. And I’ll tell you why.

Let’s set it up. Alfred is an app that you pay for one time. You download to your Mac and everything happens on the Mac. There’s no cloud component, there’s nothing there except stuff that runs on your Mac. So when people create plugins for it. There are little scripts that run on your Mac and so on and so forth. Raycast is a little bit more of a hybrid. Yes, it runs on your Mac, but it also has, I think, some cloud components to it in terms of like backing up, syncing, probably what information they gather, to be quite honest. They have an extensive privacy policy, but they’re a little vague on exactly what they do with when you’re using the app, where that information goes.


And it’s not that they’re trying to sound weaselly, it’s just that it doesn’t answer all my questions.


And it’s a subscription model if you want to go past the basic Raycast functionality.


So those two things are the reasons why when I initially looked at Raycast, I said, “Yeah, not for me. I’m going to stick with Alfred.” But I’ve done a lot of things on Alfred with different workflows that people have created, and I don’t know if it’s just the plugins themselves or whether it’s just the nature of Alfred and what stuff you develop for it is going to look like. But Raycast extensions are way better than Alfred plugins in terms of the results I get back in terms of how they appear. Like when I generate things, they look better. When I… it just gives you better windows to work in.

And to be clear, when you say a Raycast extension versus an Alfred plugin, those are functionally the same things, right?


It’s code that somebody writes to add functionality to the launcher. And third parties can write those or they can be first party as well. Sometimes, you know, Raycast has created some of their own. For example, the people behind Alfred, I’m sure created some plugins for Alfred. but for the most part you get a lot of, they both have little stores or whatever you want to call them that you can go look at, libraries or stores that you can go look at and find popular ones or see what people have created and you can download them and install them.


So you talked about getting into Raycast a little bit and I thought, damn it Peter, you’re going to make me revisit this again. And I started doing some Googling around And one of the more interesting articles I found was on The Verge, but it was a year old. And I know that Raycast has been updated significantly in the past year. So that provided me a starting point and kind of got me interested. But I thought I better install this and find out for myself what it’s all about. And when I did, I started finding that Raycast suits my workflows better. It’s easier for me to add stuff to it. It’s easier for me to remember how to get to those things. it’s easier for me to remember to make use of them.

And the reason why is because there’s a very consistent approach in how you address a specific plugin. Like let’s say you want to save snippets in Raycast for use in later and other things. Let’s say there’s a CSS snippet when I want to do a specific thing in CSS and I can’t remember the syntax, but now I have that saved as a snippet in Raycast. And all I have to do is start typing search snippets, and then I can open command by hitting return when it’s highlighted. Now in my snippets, I can just do a search for CSS. It brings them all up. All I have to do is highlight the one I want. And I can get way more granular with my search, by the way. I can say CSS size clamp. I can say CSS font. I can say CSS block quote, whatever I want, CSS grid.


And it’ll bring up stuff that matches those search terms. and then all I have to do is hit Enter when I’m highlighting the snippet I want. All I have to do is hit Enter and it will paste that snippet into whatever is the front app or the active app on the Mac at the time.


So if I have a code editor open and I’m looking at a snippet here and I hit Return, boom, it goes to wherever my cursor is in the code editor, just like that. I actually, this is interesting. You could use this for pasting things right into the browser URL bar if you want to. And you could even replace a very specific part of the URL with it that way too. I also did that with another app that I’m using called Paste, but I’ll talk about that some other time.

Some of the other interesting things about Alfred is, well, it can search your files, it can search apps, of course it can launch. Well, let’s just look. Oh, one of the nice things I like about this app, Raycast, is that when you do Command + Tab, or sorry, Alt + Tab and you open it, Then you can do Command, comma, just like any standard Mac app, to bring up its settings. So you can do that right there from its little search bar. So let’s look at some of the extensions that I have installed. I’m going to take apps out of the picture.

I’ve got an extension for Homebrew, so I can search for casks or packages. I can install them from here. I can show the installed ones. I can upgrade it. I’ve got a calculator, which can also do conversions. And so I can say things like right in the Raycast thing, I can say 6 point whatever euros I was looking at the slack pricing today. I’m like, how much does slack cost if you upgrade it so that it keeps your history for a long time? And it was 6 point something euros per user. And that was seven something dollars per month. You know, it just did that conversion right there for me. There’s calendar, there’s clipboard history. Oh, there’s a color picker.

I like this one. So I can choose the color picker. I can just hit enter and it make create a little cursor that highlights whatever color my cursor is over. And when I hit return, it’ll copy that color to the clipboard. That’s great for design type stuff. There’s GitHub integration. Like I said, there’s Obsidian integration. There’s…

That’s pretty slick.

Oh, one of the big ones, Peter, is window management. And this one came built in. This was not one I had to add.

Talk to me.

If you open Raycast and you type window, you’ll see all the different window options. almost maximized, first two thirds, first three fourths, first third, all the way down to, you know, reasonable size, middle third, move left, maximize height, maximize window, all these different things. And you can assign commands to those keystrokes so that even when you don’t have Raycast open, if you perform a keystroke that you have set for an extension in Raycast, it happens anyway without Raycast open. So if you set up your window management in there, you can get rid of lasso, you can get rid of Moom, you can get rid of rectangle, and you can have whatever keystrokes you want to pop your windows right to wherever you want on the screen. That is what I’m doing right now. I got rid of all my window managers.

So how does Raycast do that?

It just does.

Like, what can you do? Walk me through, walk me through setting up.

You have Raycast on your Mac, right?

I do. So Alt + Spacebar.

Alt + Spacebar. Or for me, it’s Command + Spacebar for me, but anyway.

Yeah, okay. Now type window.


Middle third.

(mumbles) Make smaller, maximize width, maximize height. Previous Display. Maximize.

Now, what you can do though is from here, if you hit Command, comma, to bring up your settings.

Command, comma. Mm-hmm.

And then scroll down to the bottom where you see Window Management.


Now you can record hotkeys for any of those window settings. Those are just standard Mac keyboard shortcuts. So whatever keyboard shortcuts you’re using in Rectangle or Lasso or whatever you’re using, just plug them in here for the appropriate position.

And it’d do the same thing that Rectangle or Lasso does.

Yeah, then unload Rectangle, unload Lasso, and make sure they don’t load at start, and then… Boom. This, just by virtue of the fact that Raycast is on your system and running, you can do these right away.

So I’ve only memorized a couple of the commands in Rectangle.

So… Here’s the simplest one. Here’s an example. Let’s say you find yourself a lot of the time having a window on one side of the screen or the other. So I was used to, I think it started in rectangle where Control + Alt + Arrow would throw it to one side of the screen or the other. So if I do Control + Alt + Right Arrow, the window takes up the right half of my screen. If I do Control + Alt + Left Arrow, it takes up the left half. Then for 25%, so if I want it in the upper quarter on the left, I hit Command + Alt + U. And then I hit Command-Alt-I for the upper right. I hit Command-Alt-J for the… It’s pretty easy to remember. It’s just those four buttons, U, I, J, and K. And by the position, I can tell where my window’s gonna go. And that’s my quarter.

I have Control-Alt-Enter to maximize the window. I have Control-Alt-C to put the window in the center of my screen, and it takes up like three quarters of it or something like that.

If I like where a window’s at, but I want to make the height go from top to bottom, that’s Ctrl+Alt+H for height. If I like where the window’s at and I don’t need it to fill the whole screen, but I want it to be as wide as the whole screen, I can do Cmd+Alt+W for width. Those are some of the basic ones that I’ve set up. And I also have make larger by doing Ctrl+Alt+Equals, which is the same as the plus key. I have Make Smaller by Ctrl+Alt+Minus. And yeah, that’s pretty much it. Those are pretty much the ones I have set up, but those are the ones I use all the time.

That’s pretty cool.

And if I ever need a window position that I haven’t set one up for, I just pop open Raycast, type window, and then select the one that I want. It’s a little bit slower, but it’s there for those ones that I don’t use all the time and don’t need a keyboard shortcut for.

Okay, all right, cool.

Okay, another thing that I’ve been using it for is, As you know, I had a couple different GPT apps. I had Mac GPT, which was a menu bar app.


And I could hit Control + G and I could do conversations with it. I could have different chats and so on and so forth.


Now Raycast, since I’m paying the eight dollar a month thing, Raycast has it built in, has AI built in. And I’m not paying for GPT-4, so it’s using GPT 3.5, But now I have the keystroke. So you just type whatever you want and then hit Tab and it will ask the AI. So I can say, what’s the time zone in Boston called?


As if I didn’t know. Now I hit Tab and ChatGPT comes back and says, it’s called the Eastern Standard Time, which is really weird. I don’t know why it would be called Eastern Standard Time for somebody in the East. But anyway.

It’s standard.

So you can ask GPT questions right in Raycast. The other thing is you can trigger a window that looks very much like what Mac GPT did. It’s a standalone window. And I assigned the same keyboard shortcut to it that I was using for Mac GPT. So if I do Control + G, it pops up a standalone window outside of Alfred, complete with history and multiple chats. I can select which of my chats that I’ve had that I want to continue. And each of those has its own settings. It has the model setting, the creativity setting, the instructions. Like you can say, you are a cowboy from the Wild West, and every time I get near you, you want to shoot at me, or whatever your prompt is, right?


But you can have that window, and you can do the chats right in that window. So it’s like a standalone app, but it’s really part of Raycast. And that’s just built-in functionality. And I really like that. That’s replaced all the different chat GPT apps that I was using for different situations. I’ve replaced them with this one right now.

That’s cool.

It’s super cool.

That was an extension or is that built in? I forget.

That one’s built in if you pay for the $8 a month.

That’s the Raycast AI add-on.

Raycast AI is.

Got it.


So I’m curious, back to Windows Manager stuff for a second. I’m finding it slightly easier to find the window positioning that I want in Rectangle’s little drop down menu than in Raycast’s selection. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because rectangle shows all the possible things right there and I don’t have to scroll.

Well not only that, but if you type “window” in Raycast, it shows them alphabetized. Is that true?

Well, that’s fine.

No, that’s not true.


But you can type “window thirds” and it will narrow it down to that. You can type “window center” and it will narrow it down to that.



Window top, and it’ll show you all the top options.

I can move you to the top right sixth.

Right, so if you type window left, it’ll show you, so you can narrow it down more than just typing window.

For sure.

And if you type window max, it’ll give you, if you type window maxi, and heading towards maximize, it’ll show you four options for maximize. Almost maximize, maximize height. Maximize, maximize width.

Got it, got it. All right, that’s kinda cool. That’s kinda cool. All right.

And that’s one thing I like about Raycast is, in general, whatever tool you’re working with, you can narrow things down in a predictable way like that. In a way that Alfred was always like, “I know this thing’s in Alfred, I should use it, but I have no clue what the trigger is.”

So I guess I never got that deep into Quicksilver, Alfred, not yet into Raycast, any of that. I just use them to basically launch applications.

Yeah, but Spotlight can do that. The one downside to Spotlight is, like every other Apple thing, and I’m sure you’ve had this happen on your phone, where you do something, it pops something up in response, and just as you tap it, it changes whatever it was, it shuffles the order and it accepts the new order. Well, Spotlight on the Mac does the same bloody thing. Whereas these, they won’t do that. Alfred never did that, Raycast doesn’t do that. So that is one thing better about launching apps from there than from launching from Spotlight. You know that the order’s not gonna change right as you hit enter.

Got it. All right, and it’s got my shortcuts there. It’s got all kinds of cool things.

But I’m not sure that just for launching apps, I don’t think I would use a third-party one because they do place more of a drain on your system. They use memory, they use CPU, they use battery.


In fact, I can’t prove that it’s Raycast specifically, but I can say 100% for sure that ever since I installed Raycast, my battery usage on my laptop is significantly faster than it was before. Now, the reason I’m saying I can’t prove that it was is because according to Activity Monitor’s power usage view, Raycast doesn’t seem to be sucking that much power.


It looks like VS Code is the culprit, but I use VS Code a lot on my Mac, so I don’t know what would have changed.

Something from Microsoft using a lot of resources?

Right. But I also think that my installation of Raycast also coincided with me using VS Code on my laptop, you know, away from my desk heavily for three or four days. So there might be something to the fact that it’s just VS Code. I’ll have to play more with it when I don’t plan to use VS Code for a couple of days, if I can do that and then see if Raycast is really a culprit or not. But according to Activity Monitor, it’s not. But something’s draining my battery faster. That much I do know.

So. Well, there you go.

So anyway, I guess what I would advise people is if you literally just want an app launcher, just use Spotlight. It’s good enough. Unless you’re an exceedingly fast typist and you have no patience and you just hit enter the minute you see it. Like if you’ve got good reflexes, like when you’re driving, if you know what’s going on around you at all times, you’re probably the type of person that when you get on your Mac and you start typing in Spotlight and you see that it’s got number one, there’s my option, you start hitting return and it changes, that probably will happen to you. If you’re a little slower and you’re more easygoing and you take your time and you start typing and as the order shuffles you’re kind of waiting and then it then you just need spotlight that’s all you need. But if you do get Raycast or Alfred or any of these other tools look into what they can do because there are some really cool things and some of these are things that I do all the time this actually helps make those better for me so.

Okay well cool I learned something new. I installed Raycast, again, as we discussed last week at the tip of that whatever dude there whose YouTube channel we like, and I didn’t get into it. And then the next thing I know, I’m getting messages from you and screen recordings of all these cool things you’re doing with Raycast. I’m like, I guess I got to dig into this a little deeper because Scott found something cool.

Well, this is what happens. I get something on my computer and then instead of doing the work or the project or whatever I was planning on doing I stay up until two or three in the morning playing with this thing trying to understand it so that’s kind of what happens.

Maybe that’s not the best approach. Maybe you need to apply that to work that you can do or something like that.

Oh I did not once I figure it out I definitely apply it to work I could do.


But what I’m saying is when I get into something new I like to understand it. Now next time I’ll tell you about a little utility called paste. It’s just one of the many clipboard managers for the Mac. But one of the cool things about this is it does more than just remember your history. You can also create little pinboards in there. And then even if you clear out your clipboard history, those things will stay in there always to be used until you delete them.

It’s got some pretty neat things. And it also is one of those things where if you highlight one of the things in your clipboard history and then you’re on an app, all you have to do is hit return and it just pastes it into right over where you were. So today when we were working on tickets, I actually used it to get back to some of the tickets because I had the numbers copied from the tickets. So I just went there, highlighted just the ticket number on the URL and hit return and it entered it for me from the, from paste. And then I was back at that ticket again. So it was pretty cool that way.

All right. That is pretty cool.


So anyway, I got to tell you, being back on the Mac a hundred percent of the time and and not trying to use the iPad for stuff. Just the power of the automation and utilities and the stuff that you’re allowed to do on the Mac that you can’t do on an iPad. And if Apple ever changes it, they’re gonna have a lot of people storming the doors of, you know, I feel like.

I remember when we talked about that, about, you know, when they introduced the App Store and when there were rumblings that they were gonna require you to use the App Store. I remember having a, we did a dis- it was a, must have been a pocket-sized podcast where we talked about that and it was, you know, whoever we had on as a co-host just couldn’t understand, like, what do you mean? I was like, well, I mean, they would like not let you install anything unless it came from an app store. And whoever it was, it was on the front, just couldn’t wrap their head around it. I always thought that was kind of funny. You know, the Mac is, it’s been more open all the time. So we’re just used to that.

If you’re used to using the Mac, you can’t wrap your head around that wanting to be the model that you would use. You don’t want that to be the model. You want the option. But to not be able to wrap your head around the fact that maybe Apple would do that, considering it was the time when they had locked down iOS and iPad OS completely, and now they’re introducing the Mac App Store, and they could have easily just said, “Hey, the Mac’s gonna refuse to run any apps that come from an outside source.” It’s not like it was a 99% probability, but it also was not at all an unreasonable thing to have to worry about. And I get not being able to wrap your head around, how would I use my Mac anymore if that was the case, but I don’t understand not being able to wrap your head around, you know, Apple could do this really dumb thing that they think is right for everybody.

Walking things down.


It’s not like Apple hasn’t done dumb things that they feel is the best for everybody before. So.

Well, cool. Well, I think that was a useful little tutorial cast. and I’m out of beer.

I’m not, ‘cause I was talking a lot.

Well, you should do something about that.

You know what I’m gonna do today? I’m gonna take a very short nap with my cat.

That sounds like fun. I don’t have a cat, but I have three dogs visiting. They would love to nap with me, so maybe I’ll do that. But it’s like, it’s 6.30 my time. It’s a little late for a nap.

Yeah, it is late. Yesterday, I didn’t wanna take a nap. I wasn’t tired, but my cat was literally sitting on the bed, staring at me. And when I got near the bed, he started trying to get on me before I was, and then I realized he wants a nap. So I took my laptop in the bed. I laid in the bed and worked on my laptop while he slept on my legs. As soon as I got in bed, he was sound asleep on me.

Got it. So he can’t nap unless you’re on the bed? Is he a lap cat?

He’s not, that’s the thing. And he naps all over the house in his comfortable places without being on us. But sometimes he just has it in his mind that he wants to take a nap on a human And damn it, the human better get ready.

Human better comply.

That’s right. Well, he’s a good cat, so take care of him.

I will.

Cool, well, on that note, I think we should wrap it up. If you wanna get in touch with us, you can find us at friendswithbrews.com. But you should know that ‘cause you’re listening to this podcast. How did you find us? Well, you might’ve found us in a podcast catcher like Overcast or Shutter Apple Podcasts.

You can find Scott@app.net.net.net. App, ad app, ad ad, dot. -

Give it up. Hey, I’m also on threads now.

Oh, really? -



It’s kind of like, it’s better than Twitter. It doesn’t have all the current downsides of Twitter, but it is like Twitter in the sense-

I mean, X. -

Yeah. It is like X Twitter in the sense that if you look at it too much, you will become depressed and wanna kill yourself because you know how it is. It’s just the current news. It’s just, you’re gonna come away convinced that we’re all gonna die from climate change immediately, which I believe is true, but I don’t wanna have to think about it every 10 minutes. And then, you know, I just, I know why people are talking about the things that are going wrong. Somebody has to, and we gotta fix ‘em. But I don’t wanna see it all the time. I don’t wanna see it every time I open a social media feed, ‘cause it’s all stuff that’s terrible that I can’t do a damn thing about.

Did you hear about the latest thing with respect to the App Store and the X app.

They can’t name it X in there because Apple doesn’t allow-

They can’t name it X. One letter.

I wonder what the rationale behind that is.

I guess so they don’t have a lot of apps called ABCD. I don’t know.

Yeah, I have no idea. So anyway, I thought it was funny.

I think that Elon Musk has other problems ‘cause I don’t think, I think he’s gonna run into problems with the name X.

I don’t know. There’s been a lot of things pointed out with prior use with the logo, prior use with the name, prior use with this, that, and the other.

If I recall correctly, Meta owns the service mark for the letter X. So, having your biggest competitor have your service mark, that’s pretty funny. So, all right. Well, on that note, I think we should wrap this up. I think we should hit the big red button. I think we should go take a nap with a cat or get dinner. What do you think?

At a certain point, we gotta move on.

I think this is that point.

Listeners, please move on. But not too long. Please come back next week.

Come back next week for another filling and alcohol-infused episode of Friends with Brews.

Clicking the big orange button.