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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Quicksilver is more than a launcher


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IvanLasston

 
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This seems to come up every few months - what to do to make my Mac even better? What should I install? I, and a few others, always throw quicksilver into the suggestion box. Quicksilver is one of those tools that helps you keep your hands on the keyboard, doing what you are doing. Quicksilver is also one of the reasons I got rid of the dashboard. Much of the information on the dashboard, I can get to quicker with Quicksilver.

As most senior members of this board suggest, you should probably figure out how the Mac works first before you try getting into Quicksilver. The reason I say this is Quicksilver works within the Mac framework but if you don't understand the basics, Quicksilver may harm more than help. (Example, Windows - copy a directory that already exists asks to replace files inside the directory, Mac wipes the directory and puts in your copied directory. If you use Quicksilver to do file manipulation you should know the Mac behavior.)

Go Grab Quicksilver
http://www.blacktree.com/projects/quicksilver.html

At it's core - quicksilver is an interface to do stuff on the Mac. It's most basic use is an app launcher. It is powerful and fast, just as a pure application launcher - it becomes much faster to launch programs by using Quicksilver. Instead of moving your hands to a pointing device, navigating to Applications - selecting a program not on your dock - you hit ctrl-space - and type in the name of the program, then enter. It works great for this functionality. It also learns so your most used items end up coming up to the top of lists.


In reality the paradigm is like a sentence - Noun Verb modifier - there are two to three panes in Quicksilver. When you launch a program as described above - what is really happening is - you are typing in the Noun, the name of the program. The default action for a program is Open - so hitting enter at the end runs the program. This image shows - The noun/verb/modifier -> this will search Amazon for Apple Macbook Pro


Quicksilver Options
There are several places to pick up quicksilver options. If you have it enabled in the dock or in the menubar you can setup options there. Otherwise hit ctrl-space to bring up Quicksilver -> there is a down arrow in the top right which will take you to the options. You can see the white arrow in the picture above.

Look through the Options and setup. You can change the invoke hot-key from ctrl-space to anything you want. Another option if you are starting out is show other matches. Both the hotkey and the show matches is under Preferences -> Command. You can select show immediately so that the list comes up and shows you what matches with no delay. By default there is a delay in showing the list. More advanced users don't like to be distracted by the list usually. Another option you might want to enable is switch to text mode if no match is found. This is good in case you forget to hit . to enter text.

Setup and using Search
In Safari - Go to whatever search page you want. I.E. Amazon, Google, anything with a search. Go to the search box and put in *** -> and search. Bookmark the answered search page.

In the above picture the Amazon search is a Safari bookmark.

To use -> ctrl-space -> start typing Amazon Search, you won't have to type the whole thing most likely -> Tab -> start typing Search For -> Tab put in what you are searching for -> enter
This will bring up your default browser (doesn't have to be Safari) with the search.

Using the Arrow Key
For certain Programs using the right arrow key calls up more commands. Try this ctrl-space -> Type in Safari -> hit the right arrow -> A list of various items comes up, history, bookmarks etc

This works for iTunes as well.

Working With Files and Folders
The default - cmd-escape is setup to open front row. I can open front row from Quicksilver. You can disable cmd-escape for front row from System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts -> Front Row -> uncheck Hide and Show Front Row

Now you can select a file in finder -> hit cmd-esc and Quicksilver will open with the File as the noun.

Bonus Trick - hitting comma - , - will put the noun into list/stack mode so you can add multiple files and manipulate all of them at once.

To find a Folder just type in a folder name. You don't need to type in the whole path. Give Quicksilver a second and it will show you a list. As stated before, as you keep using Quicksilver your most used items will start drifting to the top.

When navigating with lists and folders / goes into the folder shift-/ goes up a folder. Note as with everything you don't have to type the whole name in. Once what you want is highlighted you can hit the / button to enter the folder.

Convert Units
ctrl-space -> down arrow -> Quicksilver -> Plugins -> All Plugins -> enable Unit Conversion Module. (Look through all the plugins there are a lot, like Calculator)
Once it is installed
ctrl-space -> . -> 15 m -> tab -> convert to units -> . -> feet -> enter
should give you 49 some odd feet.


Calculator
Enable the Calculator Module
ctrl-space -> . -> enter a mathematical expression -> tab -> calculatorcalculateaction (again don't have to type it all in) -> enter
Answer should come up. If you want to use the answer hit . -> the text entry box should come up with the answer in the field. Just type your next formula around it.

Dictionary Lookup
Enable the Dictionary Module.
ctrl-space -> . -> type in a word -> tab -> define with dict.org
The dictionary verb doesn't seem to work but the define with dict.org does.

Create New File from Template
Make a directory in ~/Library/Application Support/Quicksilver -> called Templates. Put any template documents you want in there. Doesn't have to be blank, doesn't have to be a template type (i.e. I have word doc not word dot in my templates directory)
ctrl-space -> folder where you want to put the file -> Make New -> enter
Quicksilver should come back with an untitled.doc (or whatever extension) -> tab -> rename and put in your own name for the new doc -> Enter -> Quicksilver will come back with the new doc name and Open as the verb -> just hit enter and the new file should open.

Here are some guides (some with video) where I got some of this information
Hack Attack: Advanced Quicksilver guide - slashes, appends, and proxies, oh my!

Enabling Proxies
Enabling Quicksilver proxies and application menus | The Celsius1414 Journal

There are a pile more plugins, and proxies which make Quicksilver even faster. I'm sure other members will have other tips on how they use Quicksilver. These few tips I use every day.
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chscag

 
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Great post Ivan. I've bookmarked it for future reference. Thanks.
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+1 on the great post. Quicksilver is a great lil App and i have used it extensively until i found Alfred.
Have you seen this Ivan. Just like quicksilver, but i like the ease of use, and the interface a lot better than QS (still doing comparisons) . . . . I had Alfred find files QS/Spotlight didnt . . . . .

Something else for the switcher to look at too . ...


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IvanLasston

 
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I saw Alfred and it looks pretty good. I saw your suggestion in another thread and went and looked at it. I may try it out but as you see there may be a lot I have to port. Also after going to the website it seems that a lot of the functionality in Quicksilver has to be bought for 12.
Alfred App - Powerpack
But as a pure launcher I think it has more features than Quicksilver.

The other piece that I think is missing from Alfred is the proxies. I have just started understanding this and as I use it more I'll post about it. Here is a video on Quicksilver proxies.
008: HOWTO: Quicksilver: Application Menus | The Merlin Show
I didn't see Alfred mention that kind of access to menus anywhere.

If you have more details about Alfred and how it stacks up I'd like to hear about it.
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metalheart

 
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Good info as always, Ivan!

I've also used Alfred to find files that QS and Spotlight couldn't. But overall, I'm more comfortable with QS (or maybe it's just that old habits die hard)!

Cheers!
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Great post Ivan.... will have to go through it again when I'm ready to get my head around it
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I've been using Alfred for a while now, loving it, and the devs are working hard at it, unlike Qs that has been abandoned twice in it's development.

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Very nice write-up. I tried Quicksilver and liked it for what it did, but I didn't like the layout. I then went to Alfred which is pretty much the same thing but offers a list of results, something I found useful when searching for documents (I name all of my documents according to class, subject, type, etc.)

Great program though
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IvanLasston

 
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You guys brought up some good points about Alfred - and I believe that Quicksilver, out of the box is probably a little intimidating. Here are some settings that may help a new user.

Command Options
ctrl-space -> down arrow -> Quicksilver -> Preferences -> Command

Consider selecting "Show Other Matches" -> immediately
This will bring up the list of matches without any delay.

Also Consider selecting -> Switch to text mode if no match is found
It is easy to forget to hit the . and that may be annoying to new users

Where it looks like Alfred is better - is it looks like Alfred generates a short cut key for the top of the list so less scrolling. That being said - I tend to type in what I need anyway so I'm not sure that would save me much.

Changing the look
There are several skins available in the latest version of Quicksilver.
Interfaces - Quicksilver Wiki
I have only seen Mini, Bezel, Window, Primer, Flashlight, and Cube in the list. It seems the guy that made the others took the website offline. You can install the skins by going to ctrl->space down arrow -> Quicksilver -> plugins -> all plugins - you will find the above names as plugins.
Mini Interface, Window Interface, Primer Interface, Flashlight Interface and Cube Interface are the names of the plugins.
You can enable the plugins under preferences -> Appearance
Consider using Primer if you are new as it explains what each pane does.
Note as I play with the different looks I've found Quicksilver to crash. It seems to be buggy when switching looks. To restart you can use spotlight -> cmd-space -> quicksilver
Personally I like the look of the Cube interface as it is one pane and it helps me concentrate on what I am doing.

@Young Spade -> did you get the power pack for Alfred? It seems that the file manipulation actions are available in the power pack, not the default app. Or am I reading their web page wrong?
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Ivan, we need to get you blogging about some of this stuff

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Young Spade

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IvanLasston View Post
You guys brought up some good points about Alfred - and I believe that Quicksilver, out of the box is probably a little intimidating. Here are some settings that may help a new user.

Command Options
ctrl-space -> down arrow -> Quicksilver -> Preferences -> Command

Consider selecting "Show Other Matches" -> immediately
This will bring up the list of matches without any delay.

Also Consider selecting -> Switch to text mode if no match is found
It is easy to forget to hit the . and that may be annoying to new users

Where it looks like Alfred is better - is it looks like Alfred generates a short cut key for the top of the list so less scrolling. That being said - I tend to type in what I need anyway so I'm not sure that would save me much.

Changing the look
There are several skins available in the latest version of Quicksilver.
Interfaces - Quicksilver Wiki
I have only seen Mini, Bezel, Window, Primer, Flashlight, and Cube in the list. It seems the guy that made the others took the website offline. You can install the skins by going to ctrl->space down arrow -> Quicksilver -> plugins -> all plugins - you will find the above names as plugins.
Mini Interface, Window Interface, Primer Interface, Flashlight Interface and Cube Interface are the names of the plugins.
You can enable the plugins under preferences -> Appearance
Consider using Primer if you are new as it explains what each pane does.
Note as I play with the different looks I've found Quicksilver to crash. It seems to be buggy when switching looks. To restart you can use spotlight -> cmd-space -> quicksilver
Personally I like the look of the Cube interface as it is one pane and it helps me concentrate on what I am doing.

@Young Spade -> did you get the power pack for Alfred? It seems that the file manipulation actions are available in the power pack, not the default app. Or am I reading their web page wrong?
Thanks for posting, I tried Quicksilver before but I ended up deleting it, as I might have stated in the aforementioned post. Concerning Alfred however and your question on file manipulation, do you mean standard finding, opening of files?

If so, that's built in. Of course it's designed to open whatever it is you type in but you can type "find biology notes" and it will open the folder that the file is contained in. You can also type "open (X)" or search google things as well.

... after checking the settings of Alfred (and looking at the information on their website) I think true file manipulation comes with the paid Powerpack version. If you go to their site and click on the powerpack link (blue box) there is more information.

Hope that helped
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