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Mac Application Information: Quicksilver (QS) Introduction - Part 1

written by: coreymol•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 10/3/2008
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Quicksilver is a Mac launcher and much more.

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    I recently wrote about what I use on my computer and one of the applications I use is called Quicksliver (from Blacktree.com). I am going to write a brief review about what it is and some of its functions and in another article I will explain how to configure it.

    First off, what is Quicksilver? From the manufacturer's web site:

    At first glance, Quicksilver is a launcher or a command window interface. When opened, it will create a catalog of applications and some frequently used folders and documents. Activate it, and you can search for and open anything in its catalog instantly. The search is adaptive, so Quicksilver will recognize which items you are searching for based on previous experience. It also supports abbreviations, so you can type entire words, or just fragments of each. When not in use, Quicksilver vanishes, waiting for the next time you summon it.

    Quicksilver's greatest strength, however, is not search. Any item you are able to find, drag, or otherwise pull into its universe is endowed with many potential uses. Hitting <tab> takes you to the action field, where you can use the same adaptive search to select what you would like to do. Among other things, files can be emailed, copied, compressed. Text can be modified, transmitted between programs, or searched for on the web. Some actions even support an indirect object, so you can send an item to a person, move files to another folder, or open files with a specific application.

    Quicksilver can be given the ability to understand the data inside of files, allowing you to work with data in new, faster ways. Plug-ins add both new items and new actions, allowing you to run scripts, send instant messages, dial phone numbers, look up words in a dictionary, queue up songs in iTunes party shuffle, and much, much more. Frequently used commands can be bound to triggers, giving you the ability to execute them immediately by hitting a hot key or using the mouse on a corner or edge of the screen.

    When opened, it will create a catalog of applications and some frequently used folders and documents. Activate it, and you can search for and open anything in its catalog instantly. The search is adaptive, so Quicksilver will recognize which items you are searching for based on previous experience. It also supports abbreviations, so you can type entire words, or just fragments of each. When not in use, Quicksilver vanishes, waiting for the next time you summon it.

    After an adaptation period, Quicksilver becomes an extension of yourself; the process fades away leaving only the results.

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    This program can do so many things it is hard to put them all down on paper (or a web page!)

    First you use a two-key stroke to invoke it, the default is control+space. I have changed mine to the Spotlight default of command+space (I was using Spotlight to open some applications that I did not use regularly this way).

    /Users/corey/Desktop/Picture 1 

    Everything about Quicksilver can be customized, the color, the size, even the look. But we'll get to how to do all of that later on.

    This is the first thing you see and from here I just start to type what it is I am looking for, and the more I times I use Quicksilver (QS) the faster it becomes. QS learns what you are looking for, so instead of typing Mail after a few times I just type M. It knows that the first thing I want is going to be Mail. If that is not correct I just keep typing what I am looking for, even a name M will bring up Mail and a list, and as I keep typing M I C H E L it will then go into my Address Book and find Michele. I can then hit the tab button and send an email or even change her contact info.

    /Users/corey/Desktop/Picture 5 

    I can look up a contact directly from Address Book, with out ever opening it, just by typing a name or invoking, then typing "ad" for Address Book. Then I can tab and type a name or just use the right arrow and it will search all of my Address Book.

    /Users/corey/Desktop/Picture 4 

    I can even move files without opening up and dragging items in the finder.

    /Users/corey/Desktop/Picture 5 

    All of this may seem like it will take longer than the traditional methods, but once you start to use QS it really does speed things up! I can send an email attachment without ever opening up mail -- how cool is that? If I have a document somewhere that I am working on, like a To Do list or a shopping list, for example, I can append it right form QS without ever even opening it up.

    Quicksilver is a really great free program that I highly recommend. In an upcoming post I will talk about how to configure and use Quicksilver.