Google Quick Search Box, Quicksilver Successor?

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It wasn't so long ago that Quicksilver developer, Nicholas Jitkoff, was painting a pretty glum future for everyone's favorite free Mac application, Quicksilver. The story is not over though. It looks like the gang over at Google, where Nicholas now works, has been busy putting together a new incarnation of Quicksilver under the Google banner with the recent release of Google Quick Search Box. The beta software isn't near the functionality of Quicksilver (yet) but this may be one to watch for all keyboard jockeys.

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The LaunchBar/Quicksilver Shuffle


I noticed today that LaunchBar has released a beta of their new version 5. I've tried LaunchBar a few times in the past but I always seem back with my beloved Quicksilver. Tonight I loaded LaunchBar yet again. I'll be using it for the next month and reporting back. If you are a LaunchBar power user, sound off in the comments or send me a note. I'd love to hear your tips.

Re-Installing Quicksilver


For the last few months I've been running an informal test of LaunchBar. It is an excellent application but after living with it for awhile I'm happily returning to Quicksilver. I found LaunchBar more stable than Quicksilver but not as customizable and I really missed some of my favorite Quicksilver tweaks like timers, text append, the shelf, and (of course) that so cool cube interface. I wouldn't entirely write off the possibility that I'll give Launchbar another try someday but for now I need to go back and get re-aquainted with the Cube.

The LaunchBar Experiment

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Since posting on the issues with Quicksilver, I've received two distinct groups of emails. Faction A is with me that "the Man" will indeed need to rip Quicksilver from our cold dead hands and faction B is telling me that I'm being silly for not even giving LaunchBar a chance. So I decided to do an experiment and run LaunchBar for a couple weeks. I've just installed it today and spent most of the day in meetings and away from my Mac. So far I seem to have its application launching, address book, and iTunes features down but that is about it.

I have no idea how to really use it to move files as I do in Quicksilver. Likewise I have no idea if LaunchBar can append text files, run timers, email files from my desktop or a variety of other tasks I use Quicksilver for. Nevertheless, I'm going to try and run it for a few weeks and see what happens. I'll report back and maybe even do a review at some point in the not so distant future. Stay tuned.

Quicksilver Doomed!?


Today lifehacker ran an exclusive interview with Quicksilver developer Nicholas Jitkoff in which Jitkoff essentially says he is moving on and leaving Quicksilver to linger.

Jitkoff: I'm inclined to encourage users to move over to the more stable and well supported alternatives like LaunchBar. Right now QS 54 (ed: the current build) accomplishes everything that I really need, the problem is stability, which for some reason most people seem to be ignoring.
Lifehacker: Right, in the end stability is what matters most. I have a MacBook Pro that—until your recent updates—crashed QS on a very regular basis, which was always heartbreaking. But I've seen major stability improvements since the updates, which has been fantastic.
Jitkoff: Basically, that branch is condemned to a long slow death. I just don't know if the experimental one will ever be up to snuff. Hence the recommendation of third party apps.


Quicksilver's developer just told me to download Launchbar. The apocalypse has arrived.

I've noticed stability problems with Quicksilver since Leopard arrived. Primarily, it has shut down on me a few times requiring me to restart it. I've also helped a few friends troubleshoot some general Quicksilver wonkiness. While my initial reaction is that you'll have to pry Quicksilver out of my cold dead hand, you never know. Jitkoff also implied that he has something else up his sleeve and, since QuickSilver is now open source, some enterprising programmer may just take it to the next level. Time will tell. For the meantime anyway, I'm sticking with it. There is just way too much functionality to give this application up.

You can read the entire interview right here.

Hacking Quicksilver


This week Quicksilver went open-source which is leading lots of folks to think it will be getting more development attention. That being said, I found an older post on Hawkwings detailing how to tweek the Quicksilver interface. I'm not sure if this is interesting to anyone else, but I sure dig it. Check it out.

Keyboard vs. Mouse


I discovered, courtesy of John Gruber, a link to a very interesting article comparing the benefits of the keyboard vs. mouse interface that argues the mouse is faster. The money quote reads as follows:

We’ve done a cool $50 million of R & D on the Apple Human Interface. We discovered, among other things, two pertinent facts:

Test subjects consistently report that keyboarding is faster than mousing.
The stopwatch consistently proves mousing is faster than keyboarding.
This contradiction between user-experience and reality apparently forms the basis for many user/developers’ belief that the keyboard is faster.

People new to the mouse find the process of acquiring it every time they want to do anything other than type to be incredibly time-wasting. And therein lies the very advantage of the mouse: it is boring to find it because the two-second search does not require high-level cognitive engagement.

It takes two seconds to decide upon which special-function key to press. Deciding among abstract symbols is a high-level cognitive function. Not only is this decision not boring, the user actually experiences amnesia! Real amnesia! The time-slice spent making the decision simply ceases to exist.

Interesting food for thought for this Quicksilver junkie. Actually, I have always been pretty practical about these things. I just use what works whether it be the keyboard, mouse, or tea leaves. Anyway, you can read the full article right here.

The Ultimate Quicksilver Leap


I read once that when Cortez landed in the new world, the first thing he did was burn his ships so his men didn't get any strange ideas about going back. For all of you Quicksilver geeks (like me), one of the guys over at waferbaby just burned his ships by removing Finder.app from his Mac and mapping the finder icon to our beloved Quicksilver. Now while this act inspires no end of geek awe in me, I can't see myself actually doing this. I always believe in using what works best and fastest. Sometimes that is the often maligned finder. Especially when I need to browse for something that I can't remember the name for. Anyway, if you are ready to make the leap, you can get instruction on how to do so right here.

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Screencast #3 - Quicksilver Timers and Alarms

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This is my third screencast. This one explains how to set alarms and timers with Quicksilver so it will appear in large text on your screen or play a song from iTunes. This screencast is in high definition format. The version that goes up on the iTunes feed will be in the iPod format. It is best viewed if you download first.


 You can Download it Directly Right Here

or better yet subscribe in the iTunes store

Macsparky Screencasts

Screencast 1 - Text Append in Quicksilver

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I'm happy to post my first screencast. It took me about 5 minutes to record it and about 5 hours to figure out the fancy graphics for the entry. At least it gave me an excuse to learn to use Motion.

This screencast is about how to use Quicksilver to append text files. This is a trick I use frequently so check it out.

I also linked some other great quicksilver tutorials here.

 You can Download it Directly Right Here

or better yet subscribe in the iTunes store

Macsparky Screencasts

Review - Path Finder


You can hear the below review in MacReview Cast #113.

My experience with Path Finder is an interesting one. When I first switched to my Mac, a friend told me to forget about the Apple Finder and use Path Finder. Well I downloaded it when my Mac was shiny new and it didn't grab me. I used it a few times but found myself going back to the less intimidating Apple Finder.

Well I know quite a bit more about OS X now than I did during that failed trial and decided to give it another go. Now I can't imagine ever working without it.

Path Finder is the Swiss Army Knife of file management tools. When you first open the application there is a group of six windows that are fully customizable. You can display a variety of data from your running applications, file and folder histories, volumes, selection paths, information, permissions, attributes, console, and even a terminal window. The binary view makes me laugh but hey, it must be useful to somebody. With so much variety you can make Path Finder can change to suit your needs rather than forcing you to change to meet the application's needs as is so often the case.

In the main display window it has a Path Navigator that visually tells you where you are and where you have been as you drill down. Like the Apple Finder, Path Finder supports all standard view modes including list, icon, and hierarchical. Also, control clicking on an item in Path Finder gives me a lot more options than I am used too. Of course you can do the normal file management tasks like copying and moving but you can also email, compress, create a disk image, open in terminal and a variety of other options.

This program is very feature rich. So much so that in the week I've been using it I won't pretend to say I'm familiar with them all so I'm going to focus on a few that really grabbed me.

The customizable bookmark bar is very nice. Taking a page from Safari and other web browsers, Path Finder has a bar of common file locations across the top of the screen with drop down menus. It has the usual suspects built in: Documents, Music, Movies and the likes. But you can also create your own custom drop downs like "downloads" or anything else you need frequently.

Another great feature is the Drop Stack. When I open a finder window it is usually to work on several files. With the Drop Stack it gives me a place to temporarily drop files while I'm navigating through multiple menus. Once I've assembled everything I need to work on in my drop stack, its all in one place and easy to get too. This just doesn't mean moving and copying. I can also burn and compress items straight out of the Drop Stack.

Like Forklift and Leopard's Finder, Pathfinder has an excellent preview pane that handles most image and HTML files and even quicktime movie files. I set one of the larger panes for preview and it is very helpful when moving or cleaning image files.

Using the "File History" setting, Pathfinder keeps a running tally of my most recently accessed files. This is nice as I'm going through my day if I am working on several projects.

Path Finder also brings some extra muscle to searching your Mac. I've found Spotlight to be very good at ferreting out lost files but occasionally something will get misplaced into a location that Spotlight doesn't look. Path Finder has its own separate "Fast Search" engine that will search the entire system.

You can't beat Path Finder for compression. A version of the StuffIt compression engine is built right in. When sharing with your PC friends, it also allows for ZIP compression.

Another nice feature is the application window. By holding down command-F8 you open up an attractive window that displays icons for all of your applications. This is great when I need to open an application but forgot its name.

Did I mention it has a built in console window, text editor, and easily allows you to see hidden files?

Looking at the preferences you will see that Path Finder is even more adaptable giving you control over the entire look and feel of the application.

Reflecting on the way I manage files I must give a nod to Quicksilver. Once you get accustomed to Quicksilver, you can't really beat it for down and dirty file management. With just a little practice, you can move, copy, and trash files as quickly as it takes to open Finder or one of its replacements. I really use Path Finder and Forklift on file management tasks that take some heavy lifting.

Path Finder is my finder replacement. It is robust and bends to fit my needs. I would give Forklift the advantage for FTP but generally found Path Finder more useful for the way I compute. I will be keeping both programs and I am certain I will be using them both. If you are looking for just one, you should download and give each one a week or two on your machine to see what fits you better. Like Forklift, Path Finder also has a free trial period. If you get hooked, it will run you $34.95.

Quicksilver Addiction




Quicksilver is one of those programs that doesn’t wow you until you’ve been using it a month. Then it knocks you off your socks. Its a launcher, but much more. It can pull up iTunes playlists, it can compress files, it can move files, eject discs. I really didn’t appreciate how great this program is until I started watching some of the online videos so go check them out!


Lifehacker Quicksilver Videos Extravaganza