Quick access to files from a release that was slow to get here
Although Spotlight lets you find apps and files with ease, it doesn’t let you do a great deal with them. Additionally, it’s a closed system that you can’t extend and can barely customise. By contrast, Quicksilver is an app that claims to put your entire Mac at your fingertips, through a pane-oriented command system utilising an object/action/argument structure.
The basic Quicksilver interface is easy to get to grips with. A shortcut (~+Space by default) triggers the app and you start typing to define an object. Characters needn’t be contiguous (although you get better results if they are) and if Quicksilver doesn’t immediately display what you want, you can use the cursor to rummage through a drop-down results menu. Post-selection, you tab to the second pane and use the same workflow to choose an action (email, launch, reveal, and so on). If an argument’s required (such as an email address for sending a file to, or a location for copying a document to), that’s done in a third and final pane.
Although there’s mouse support (~-click any pane to display an actions list for the selected item), finger gymnastics remain the best way to use Quicksilver; once you get the hang of it, the app’s fast, and it also learns which input strings you tend to prefer for specific items or actions. The app is also very configurable and extensible. Actions memory) can be pruned, depending on your needs. In terms of extensibility, dozens of plug-ins are available, providing integration with Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Transmit and iTunes; there are also hot-key triggers and a clipboard.
During testing, Quicksilver performed well, with this 1.0 release (arriving almost a decade after the first version) feeling stable and robust. We had some minor niggles with aesthetic decisions (some misaligned text here; some small fonts there), but there were no crashes, which wasn’t the case a few years ago. But also there wasn’t a rival in the shape of Alfred 2.
Quicksilver feels comparatively bewildering and complex compared to the upstart newcomer, and seems more suited to a tinkerer than the person who wants a productivity aid to arrive fully formed.
If you’re already an Alfred user, stick with it unless you’re finding it limiting in some way. Otherwise Quicksilver’s a good bet, and it’s free – just ensure you’re willing to learn its idiosyncrasies and fiddle with its preferences.
Quicksilver remains an impressive productivity aid and this new release appears stable and polished.
- Fast and efficient
- Extremely extensible
- Great for keyboard users
- Can be a tad bewildering
Developer: Quicksilver, qsapp.com
OS: OS X 10.6 or later (older versions available for OS X 10.3 or later)