Quicksilver – [Another] Must Have Mac App

Quicksilver is is even more a “must have app” than Pathfinder, because it’s FREE and just as great. There is a bit of a learning bump to get into it but it’s well worth it. Look at it this way, you’re not spending any money for it so the time to learn it is the only cost, and it’s still a great bargain.

The simple description of Quicksilver is that it’s an application launcher (simple, but also too simplistic). It also understands data files and the data in them and streamlines working with them. Frequent actions can also be set up as triggers to further streamline things.

As I mentioned there’s a bit of a bump to get into it so I committed to force myself to use QS for three days. I did spend some time looking at the tutorials to learn how to use the features I wanted but it was less than three days before my muscle memory was QS enabled.

I’ve barely scratched the surface but here’s what I was doing within those first three days:

  • Created triggers to open (or activate if already open) mail and iTunes.
  • Used QS to open my website admin console and several other frequently used sites.
  • Created triggers to append lines to several text files. For example, I have a file called “rememberthis.txt” and if I come across something I want to remember I hit the trigger key (^R) then type the text and it’s added to the file. If you prefer you can add the line at the beginning of the file. I have numerous text files covering different topics. I use triggers for the most common and use the regular QS interface for the rest.
  • Like any app launcher, I start all my apps through it. Just start typing the name, QS will create a list of matches with it’s best guess at the top. I can keep typing or arrow down to the one I want. I’ve noticed it tends to keep recent apps at the top of it’s guesses which is a real time saver.
  • Starting to typing a file name will also open it or make it available for other actions such as copying, deleting, e-mailing, compressing it, copying it to the clipboard and more.

One of the things I did stumble over at first was the use of plug-ins and actions. Not so much the concepts themselves, but some of the things I was trying to do from the tutorials required me to install plug-ins that weren’t there by default and some of the actions I needed were off by default. So when you install QS go into preferences and check out the Plug-ins selection of preferences and select the ones you’ll want to get started. Then head into Preference->Actions and make sure the actions you’ll want are enabled.

The developer of Quicksilver is a guy calling himself Alcor who’s active in Quicksilver related forums. (At least the claim is Alcor is one guy and the Alcor handle is active on the forums). The Quicksilver website has the beginning of a user manual but it also has an active forum and links to numerous tutorials and tips that others have done. Quicksilver is a app that skips the bells and whistles, keeps the user interface to a minimum and increases productivity.

Quicksilver website: http://quicksilver.blacktree.com/
You should check the tutorials on the QS website, but I found Dan Dickinson’s tutorial to be a good start, it’s at http://vjarmy.com/archives/2004/03/quicksilver_a_b.php and still useful even though it’s a couple of years old.

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