How to Instantly Paste Any Bible Passage Using Alfred

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I couple weeks ago I wrote about the Mac application Alfred. In that article, I gave an overview of some of Alfred’s beneficial features for productivity and promised that I would share some additional workflows with you in the future.

So, this week I want to show you how to be a master Bible copy-paster using a couple Alfred workflows. I included a simpler workflow that will work for you right out of the box, as well as one with a bit more power under the hood (it requires Accordance Bible Software and possibly a little tinkering).

The power of pasting

[yikes-mailchimp form=”1″]What do you do if you want to paste a Bible passage into Microsoft Word, or Facebook? You have to pull it up on a site like Bible Gateway or on your Bible software, find your preferred version, copy it, return to your word processor, paste it, and fix the crazy formatting.

What a drag!

Look, I get that these are some serious first world problems. And I’m not complaining.

We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to access to the Bible—numerous English translations, the incredible search functionality of Bible software and the internet, and the ridiculous ease that word processors afford us in writing about the Scriptures. It is silly to complain. But if our computers can make it even the tiniest bit quicker, why not take advantage of that?

What if, without leaving your word processor or web page, you could instantly paste a Bible passage in your preferred version, and just keep on writing? With these Alfred workflows, you can.

The Simple Method: ESV Online Bible

Just a reminder that for these workflows to work you need both Alfred (a free app) and the paid upgrade called Power Pack. I wrote more on the benefits of the Alfred Power Pack in “Introducing Alfred, Your Mac’s New Best Friend”.

The easiest way to become a master Bible copy-paster is with this workflow which accesses the ESV text via an open source API. When you type in “esv” followed by your reference, it grabs the verse text from the API and moves it to your clipboard. Then, a quick CMD-V pastes it in place, citation and all.

An example of pasting a non-controversial verse into a wedding ceremony document.

If you want to skip the step of having to paste the text after the script copies it to your clipboard, simply open the ESV Online Bible workflow in Alfred, double-click the part called “Copy to Clipboard” and select the box next to the setting that reads, “Automatically paste to front most app.”

I love the ease of this first method, but there are some clear downsides. The first is since it operates off of an API, you need internet access for it to function. Second, you are limited to the ESV translation. There are probably APIs for other translations out there but most popular translations currently in print have stricter copyrights than the English Standard Version. Third, this version limitation also means you can’t do much with the biblical languages. So, if Greek or Hebrew are your thing, you’re out of luck. But that’s where the next method opens up more possibilities.

You can download the free workflow here:


The Advanced Method: Paste from Accordance

If you have Accordance Bible Software, the following is method is for you. It operates off this original Workflow made by a guy who goes by “dongarey” on Packal. I modified and expanded on this workflow to suit my needs. My version is available on GitHub.

Basically, you can use this workflow to paste from any Bible text module in Accordance, and it uses the power of Accordance’s search to find the text. So “1 pt 3:1” works as well as “1 Peter 3:1” and you can paste a whole string of passages at once—even whole chapters “1 Peter 3:1; Jude 3; Jeremiah 31”. Oh, and since this script pulls from Accordance, you don’t need internet access to use it!

How to Use This Workflow

So, your mileage will vary depending on what Accordance modules you have installed. I most frequently use the ESV, the NASB, NA28 for Greek, and BHS for Hebrew. So the script is configured to work with those. But if you don’t have those modules, don’t worry. I’ll show you how to modify it.

If you use the biblical languages, this can be really handy. I use it to do my exegetical work.

Also great for block diagramming

How to Modify The Workflow

To alter which modules are used, or to add more, just copy the workflows and/or change out the module name in the script.

For example, say you don’t want to use the NASB version but instead want to use the NKJV text you have in Accordance. To change the NASB to NKJV do the following.

First, identify the module’s short name. You need this so the script knows which module to reference. You get this by opening your library and clicking the “i” next to the text you want to you. The short name will be in parenthesis at the end of the title.

The short name of this New King James Version with Strong’s is “NKJVS”

Next, open your Alfred workflow and select the script on the NASB workflow.

Don’t be intimidated by changing these scripts. If you mess something up, just download the workflow again and start over.

Then, edit the module name (highlighted in the image below) in the script to be the same as the module you want to use—in this case, we would replace “NASB” with “NKJVS”. Then, click save.

Finally, don’t forget to change the keyword trigger to something that you will remember, likenkjv“. If you did it right, then each time you open up the Alfred bar and type njkv followed by a verse reference it will instantly copy to your clipboard or paste in place from Accordance. Pretty cool, right?

download Accordance Bible Paste Workflow



[yikes-mailchimp form=”1″]I hope Alfred users will find this information helpful. Let me know if you do, or if you have other tricks that make working with the Bible quicker and easier on the computer.

I would love to see a Logos version of something like this. So, if you have Logos and the chutzpah to make one, please share it with us!

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