Selling the Quicksilver Magic

I keep telling everyone they need to try out Quicksilver, that it is the most amazing app. Then they ask me what it does, and I generally say, “it’s hard to explain.” Which it is. Then I fumble around to demonstrate a few things that never seems to do it justice. I need Ron Popeil to pop out and say, “but wait, there’s more.”

So I have compiled here the list of things that I generally try to demonstrate quickly for people. These are just the highlights. Quicksilver has an infinite amount of uses.

Application Launching

This is usually the first step of the demo. Invoke Quicksilver (ctrl-space by default) and start typing. When your application or file comes up just hit enter and you are on your way.


But wait, there’s more.

Address Book tricks

Quicksilver looks into your address book, so all you need to do is invoke Quicksilver and start typing a name. You never have to launch Address Book again to look someone up.

2 Address Book 1

Once you have pulled your contact up, hit the right arrow to drill down into that contact’s details.

3 Address Book 2

iTunes Control

Have iTunes running in the background and you want to switch the song? Quicksilver lets you do that easily.

5 Itunes 1

But there is so much more you can do. If you hit the right arrow, you can drill down into iTunes and access all of your playlists.

6 Itunes 2

Create Your Own Key Commands

Want a keyboard equivalent for a command or to launch an application or file? That’s no problem for Quicksilver. Just open up the Quicksilver preferences and click on triggers. Click on the “+” to add an action and then the little “i” button in the lower left to open the flyout panel where you enter the hot key.

7 Triggers 1

Append to Text files

If you hit the “.” Quicksilver will enter a text mode that allows you to type free form text. You can use the “Append Text…” Action to write to the end of that file. This is great for todo lists. Merlin Mann at 43 folders has a good write up on this.

9 Append 2

Menu Access

Another good trick from 43 Folders is accessing menu items in any application through the use of proxies.

Say you want to access an item from a menu, like creating a new TextMate blog post document.

12 Proxies 3

You can invoke the Quicksilver proxy object to display the menu item and then start typing until a match comes up.

11 Proxies 2

If you create a trigger for this you can have quick access to your menu items with one keystroke.

10 Proxies 1

Clipboard History

This one seems like a great add in that you wouldn’t expect. You can access your clipboard history through Quicksilver. Just invoke Quicksilver and hit “command-l” and it will pull up the last 9 clipboard entries (or how ever many you set it to keep).

13 Clipboard 1

Subversion Magic

If you use Subversion you will like this. You can use Quicksilver as a front end for svn. Rather than going to the command line to do your updates and commits, you can do it right from Quicksilver.

For example, select a file from your repository. Invoke Quicksilver and hit “command-g” to put the finder selection into the subject window. then tab to action and start typing svn.

14 svn 1

It will give you a window to add your commit comments.

15 svn 2

Adium Integration

If you are an Adium user, there is a plugin that you can get at Like the iTunes plugin this lets you drill down through your contacts.

16 Adium 1

You will need to set Adium to your instant messaging handler by pulling up the Quicksilver preferences and selecting the “Preferences” and then “Handlers”.

16 Adium 2

Actiontastic Fantastic

I have been using a new free as in beer and speech GTD application called Actiontastic. Quicksilver integrates nicely with this application. By hitting “.” to enter free form text I can enter any items that come into my head no matter were I am or what I am doing and send it to Actiontastic’s inbox.

17 Actiontastic 1

18 Actiontastic 2

This is just scratching the surface of what you can do. I guess the best way to think of Quicksilver is a highly efficient front end to a great many applications and task. It allows you to work without taking your hands off of the keyboard, which can make you more efficient.

Check out for even more info.


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