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© May 2019 Anthony Lawrence
June 2006

I'm still puzzling over Quicksilver. I'm really not sure whether I don't get it, or it's the people that love it that really don't get it. In other words, is this really the wonderful Swiss Army knife of applications that its proponents seem to think it is, or is it just a complicated and unwieldy crutch that tries to shield them from reality?

I'm really not sure. I lean toward the latter partially because of comments like this:

QuickSilver, very under-described on the page, currently contains just a few main components - a shelf and a launcher. While the clipboard recorder and shelf are both useful and will be covered, the real power here is the launcher. And it's not so much a launcher as a really powerful personal search engine.

(from QuickSilver - A Better OS X In Just 10 Minutes)

I think the title really tells the story: rather than learn how OS X works, Quicksilver users want all of it to work through Quicksilver's interface methods. And what is that paradigm? Well, it's pretty simple, actually: you start typing something and Quicksilver finds things that might be what you are looking for. For example, I start typing "Par" and Quicksilver suggests "Parallels.app". That's a reasonable thought, but it also has come up with 163 other choices in case that's not my desire. But let's say it is - now what?

Well, now I can choose one of thirteen possible actions. The default is "Open", and the others are things like Get Info, Move to Trash, Always Open With, etc. All things I might want to do. Are you with me so far?

Wait, there's more. There's a couple of zillion (well, it seems like it) available plug-in modules that provide features. Often these are application specific, providing specific actions for specific apps. All very confusing, and horribly documented (often not documented at all).

Supposedly this makes you more efficient. From the same page referenced above:

Now you can stop switching to the finder, hitting a three-key hotkey for the folder, and drilling down a level or two to launch an application - QuickSilver is so fast, you can probably get the app launched before you would be able to pull up a finder window.

Umm.. maybe. Personally I don't find it all that hard to launch apps - I keep the ones I use frequently in my dock, and it hardly seems onerous to click on Applications to find the less used apps. As for anything else in the available Action choices, well, I'm sorry, but I don't see the advantage. Again, I'm not sure whether I'm just not giving it a chance or the people who swear by it just think very differently than I do. Maybe it's a little of both.

Overall, I found Quicksilver confusing and clumsy. That flies in the face of the many laudatory comments and reviews I've found: a lot of people really think this is fantastic.

Well, maybe you will too. I don't think I'll be using it, but you might love it.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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Fri Jun 16 16:28:50 2006: 2121   bruceg2004

I have "tuned" Quicksilver on my systems to only search for applications. I love it. No more wading through menus, and one more reason to not reach for the mouse :-)

- Bruce

Fri Jun 16 16:30:33 2006: 2122   TonyLawrence

Must be me.. :-)

Fri Jun 16 16:36:46 2006: 2123   bruceg2004

Nahh... I have a gazillion apps, and there is no way I can fit them in the dock, so this was the next logical choice. A lot of apps I do not use any more, so I have been slowly nuking them, but I still use a lot of shareware, and commercial apps. I never thought I would have this many apps, but I do. There is just so much good stuff out there for Mac's.

If you don't have a lot of apps you regularly use, then the dock is just fine. I wonder if Apple will bundle something like this in the next version, because there is another competitor to Quicksilver, named "Launchbar". I think that is a pay app, and maybe the reason why Quicksilver is more popular.

- Bruce

Thu Jul 6 00:51:29 2006: 2216   Michael

I also use it just to launch apps. I have been using it for 2 years now (i think) and just cannot live without it. I sometimes dabble a bit in a few of the other areas... but the app launching is what i die for. Do you know of a better way to launch an app quickly?

Thu Jul 6 10:19:12 2006: 2217   TonyLawrence

Well that's what I don't get.

The stuff I use every day is already in the dock, ready to go. Anything else, what difference does it make that it takes an extra click to open Applications?

I have to type enough of it to find it in QS, so where's the gain?

Wed Jul 19 23:05:24 2006: 2271   anonymous

Although it's very convenient for launching apps without having to take your hands off the keyboard, there are many, many more things Quicksilver can do.

I mostly use it for launching *documents*, rather than apps. For example, if I want to open my Shares spreadsheet, I just hit "Cmd-Space sh Enter" and it opens - much easier than grabbing the mouse, switching to Finder, clicking on my Home folder, clicking on the Money folder, and then double-clicking Shares.xls.

If I need to ring a friend but can't remember his number, I hit "Cmd-Space Jas Enter" and it opens the address book entry for Jason. The number's right there in less than a second. Much quicker than opening Address Book, clicking in the search box, typing "Jason", and clicking on his name in the search results.

Here's another one: I use a Gmail account as a quick-and-dirty backup destination. Say I want to backup my Shares.xls spreadsheet above, along with the files Income.xls and ToDo.txt. I hit "Cmd-Space sh,in,to Tab em Tab b Enter" and it opens an email, addressed to my Backup email address, containing those three files as attachments. Then I click on Send or hit Cmd-Shift-d to send it. Easy peasy.

I'll grant you that Quicksilver is not a very 'discoverable' app. You have to play around with it for a while and learn how it works, and it really helps to read other peoples' tips. But once you've figured it out, even just a little bit, its power and efficiency become a huge boon. I hate not having an equivalent application on my Windows PC at work.

Mon Feb 5 14:02:54 2007: 2851   nobios

Let me put this way, to launch adium using: Cmd+Space ad (arrow down) enter. The same way with documents.

So what is my real gain? I have to learn a lot of things that will get me crazy whenever I switch back to my Linux Box, so why brother that much? :)

Tue Jun 26 15:59:29 2007: 3048   anonymous

I think whether or not you 'get' Quicksilver has a lot to do with what you do the computer in the first place -- if you're doing a lot of typing, opening a lot of different files, emails, attachments, forwarding and contacting other people - office work basically; then it's probably not to much of a jump to use quicksilver and these hot-key-stroke-combinations (i notice a lot of QS users like talking in these terms). Me personally, can't see the point. I use my computer mainly for artwork; I use mail, web & photoshop, and a handful of other small apps. I find it a lot more intuitive to use a tablet with menu's and buttons and drag & srop, which to me is the whole point of the Apple/Windows gui. To many of us, typing abbreviations separated by commas, and tabbing down to actions and commands seems like going back to the dark ages


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