Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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One Week of Quicksilver (Thoughts and Tricks)

QSLight.gifAfter a week of using my new PowerBook, and more specifically, Quicksilver, I’m ready for my first serious Quicksilver post.

Let me start by saying Quicksilver is as amazing as people say it is. It’s one of those pieces of software that changes the way you use a computer, the same way an RSS aggregator changes the way you read things on the web and tabs change the way you browse.

On the website, Quicksilver is described as “an evolving framework for accessing and manipulating many forms of personal data.” Put simply, Quicksilver allows you to access anything on your computer at the click of a button. For instance, I have Quicksilver set up to appear when I hit CMD+Spacebar, at that point I start typing in a program or folder I want to access and I can open it or perform any number of other functions on it. That, however, is just the beginning, as described on the “What is Quicksilver page:

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 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.

Put it this way: anything you want to do to or with a file is now available in one place and the command can be typed in rather than searched for through levels of hierarchy with a mouse.

Alright, now that you’ve got (and I’ve got) an idea of just what Quicksilver is all about, let me fill everyone in on some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up in a week of use. Some of these may seem simple, but too understand Quicksilver you need to understand just how customizable and expandable it is. There are lots of plugins to perform lots of things I don’t even understand and I’ve heard the integration with Tiger and, specifically Spotlight, rocks (I can’t wait).

Anyway, without any further ado, here are some tricks I’ve picked up. Hope you enjoy.

1. Not really a trick, but here are two Quicksilver tutorials that I highly recommend starting with: “Quicksilver Changes Everything” (The Apple Blog) and “Quicksilver – A Better OS X in Ten Minute” (Dan Dickinson). (Also, just as a note, thanks to Dan who has been incredibly nice and answered lots of Quicksilver questions for me. It’s easy to tell how good a piece of software is by how its user evangelize for it. And Quicksilver users are quite the evangelists.)

2. All of a sudden browser bookmarks become useful again thanks to Quicksilver. Since you have access to all of them at the click of a button, you can save things in lots of random folders and actually get to them easily. I love the bookmarks toolbar and keep everything important on it but haven’t kept other bookmarks because of the hassle of getting to them in the past. Now, with everything only a few keystrokes away I’ve started bookmarking sites that are important to me, but I frequent less than things like a list of lots of other searches that might be useful. (To set up a Quick Search, just search on a site and when the results come in, replace the word you searched for in the address with “***,” for example, the Google quicksearch looks like this: http://www.google.com/search?q=***)

3. To combine more than one thing together use the “,” button. Say you want to open three bookmarks at once, just type commas in between and hit enter to open. It’s that simple and with Firefox it should open in separate tabs. Quite a sweet little feature (and also can be used anywhere, just used bookmarks and Firefox as an example).

4. This tip comes from Dan Dickinson in the comments on one of Merlin Mann’s Quicksilver posts (actually pointing to Dan’s tutorial — damn, this whole thing sounds really in-bred doesn’t it?):

And Alcor pointed out one more feature to me last night – if you hold down a key in the target field (preferably the last key you typed in your search), after about three seconds it will automatically run the action displayed. The *next* time you do it, it’s much quicker (about half a second of holding), as you’ve taught Quicksilver you want to run the action with that key.

That’s it for now, I’m sure I’ll have lots more soon, but that should be enough of an idea of just what this thing can do to get you thinking.

May 1, 2005