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In the first part of the series, we had seen how to setup quicksilver. In this blog, we will see, how to start using it.

Here’s a quick refresh of what we already discussed in the previous post…

- Quicksilver commands are split in to three components: Object, Action and Targets.

- A keyboard shortcut could be assigned to a command, as triggers.

General Terminologies used in this article:

  1. Each command is represented as triples in the form “<object> -> <Action> -> <Targets>”. Targets are optional.
  2. Items placed within angle brackets are placeholders. So when you see “<Application Name>”, it means, the name of any of the installed application.

General Shortcuts:

  • Activate Quicksilver: Hot-key ( Ctrl + Space by default).
  • Open Preferences: Cmd + ,
  • Open Catalog: Cmd + ;
  • Open Triggers: Cmd+ ‘
  • Open Plugins: Cmd + “
  • Switch between quicksilver panels: Tab

1.Finder Actions:

Prerequisites:

Proxy Objects should have been selected in Preferences -> Catalog -> Quicksilver.

General Navigation:

The common user folders are indexed by quicksilver and hence you could navigate to any of those folders using quicksilver. For instance to navigate to Applications folder, I could just fire up quicksilver and type “Applications” in object and “Open” in actions.

OpenAppFolder

Better yet, you could use triggers, to assign keyboard shortcuts to certain folders. For instance, lets say that you have a folder named “Tools”, that you navigate to, fairly frequently. Open triggers ( Activate quicksilver, then press cmd + ‘ ), Click the Plus button (+) at bottom left hand corner, choose HotKey, then choose “Tools” folder as Object and choose “Open” under Action. Assign a hotkey and now whenever you want to navigate to tools, you just need to press the assigned shortcut key.

ToolsTrigger

Move Finder Element:

This is usually a huge time saver. Lets say that you want to move a file from “Download” folder to “Application” folder; just highlight the item in Finder and then activate your quicksilver and use “Finder Selection” -> “Move to” -> “Application Folder”. (of course, you can set up a trigger for this, if you find yourself performing this move operation frequently).

Compress Finder Element:

Make sure that you have “File compression module” plugin and also have compress using action enabled in “preference -> Actions”. Then you could just highlight a finder element and then activate quicksilver and perform “Finder Selection -> Compress Using -> <Compression Type>”. By default, if you just want to compress to a .zip file, you could just use “Finder Selection -> Compress”. You can change this default option from .zip to something else, by using the drop down at “Preferences -> Compressions -> Create a file format in”.

 

Compress File using quicksilver

Compose and Send Mail:

Make sure that you have “Apple Address book plugin” and you have all your contacts addresses in your “Apple Address Book”.

The following are the options:

1- To just send an text email, Activate Quicksilver, press . (period key) to activate text mode, then press some text, lets say “Hello There” and then choose “Compose mail to” in action and choose the recipient.

Tip 1: Pressing . in any of the quicksilver panels, will switch to text mode, where you can type some free texts.

2- If you want to send a file as attachment, choose that file in the first panel. (You could navigate to that finder element using quicksilver or highlight that element in finder and choose “Finder selection”), choose “Compose email to” and choose the recipients.

3- If you want to compress the file first, then you could perform command linking, first choose the finder element -> “Compress” (or “Compress using”), press return. The compressed file will be autofilled in the first panel, then you can send mail, like mentioned in the previous line.

4- Finally you can send mail to multiple recipients by using the comma trick, fill in “Object” and “actions” panel as mentioned previously, then choose an recipient, instead of “Return” press “,”(comma) button. The recipient will be added to the list and you can now add another recipient.

Tip 2: You can add multiple items to any of the three panel in the command, using the , key. Try opening multiple applications using the comma key.

2.Use as General Launcher:

Quicksilver is primarily an application launcher.

Launching an application is simply: “<Application Name>” -> Open.

OpenApp

Once you have the application in “Object Panel” you could do multiple other things, use the right arrow key, to explore the list of other options. In Actions panel, click Right Arrow, you will be presented with a list of all possible options. Some of those actions, might have an sub-category, in that case, you can again, press the “Right arrow” on those items, to reveal the sub-categories. You can use the “left arrow” to navigate back to parent categories from sub-categories.

LaunchAppOtherOptions

To assign an Trigger for a specific application launch: Open triggers (Cmd + ‘), click on “+” at bottom left hand corner, choose HotKey, then….

LaunchMailTrigger

Once you save the trigger, you can assign a Hotkey to the trigger, by double clicking on the trigger.

3.The Shelf and Clipboard Module:

The shelf and clipboard module is deceptively simple and extremely useful. Clipboard plugin, helps you to maintain the clipboard history and provides shortcuts to put and retrieve items in your clipboard. Shelf is your quick access folder. You can put your commonly accessed items in your shelf. The items could be simple text elements, like your username or it could be entire application proxies or it could be actual files like commonly used images.

Prerequisites:

Make sure that the clipboard and shelf plugin is enabled in plug-ins. If any of the actions, explained below are not available, then make sure that, those items are available and checked in the Preferences -> Actions. Internal Objects should be checked under Preference -> Catalog -> Internal Objects.

Also make sure “Capture History” is enabled under Preferences -> Clipboard and also choose a default item number. Your clipboard and Shelf popups might behave badly ( Will become visible and invisible arbitrarily). If you find your shelf and clipboard popups behaving badly, do “Show Clipboard” -> “Run”. Once the clipboard is visible, drag it to a Edge of your screen. Now your clipboard will slide in and out of that edge of the screen. The same goes to shelf also.

I strongly suggest, assigning triggers to “Show Clipboard -> Run” and also to “Shelf -> Show”.

The shelf “module” may not be visible initially. Remember, you need to choose “Shelf” and not “Shelf and Clipboard catalog”. To activate Shelf, first you need to put some items in shelf. Activate quicksilver, press “.”(period) to activate text mode, enter some text and then press -> “Put in Shelf”. Once you have some items in shelf, then you should be able to see it. If it still does not work, choose “Shelf and Clipboard catalog -> Rescan catalog Entry”.

Using the Clipboard Module:

Using the clipboard module is very simple. It works in the background. Just perform successive copy operations. Invoke “Show Clipboard” -> “Run”. All the items you had copied will be stored in your clipboard screen (in the order in which it was copied). You can then drag items from Clipboard to your favorite text editor or any other program that could handle text inputs.

You can also explicitly copy items to clipboard by using, “<Any Text or Other Items>” -> “Copy to clipboard”. You could also pop the last element stored in clipboard by “Paste items from Clipboard” -> “Run”.

Using the Shelf Module:

You can have any Text or Application shortcuts or Actual finder items, in the object panel and choose “Put on Shelf” action. These items will be maintained in shelf, until explicitly removed. Then you could invoke show shelf, to access any of the items that you had previously pushed to shelf.

Do not store huge files in Shelf, this will slow down quicksilver.

4.Use it as your password manager:

Your Mac, stores your passwords and other security informations (like certificates) as keychains. By default every mac will have the “login.keychain” and “system.keychain”. Open Keychain Access, to see the keychains in your Mac.

The keychain module provides access to your Mac’s Keychain. You can quickly retrieve your password and paste it, in to your clipboard using quicksilver. Invoke quicksilver, Enter “login keychain” and then press on “right arrow key”. Choose the corresponding item from the displayed list, then choose “Copy to clipboard”(or just “Copy Password”) in actions panel. You might get a security warning. Its up to you to provide access or not.Essentially you are allowing a third party application(quicksilver, in this case), access to your keychain. Besides, you should never store sensitive information in your keychain. You are better off, using some password manager.

 

5.Web Search Module:

I use google heavily and wikipedia fairly frequently. So for me, it is sometime important to have an keyboard shortcut to invoke various searches. The quicksilver search plugin, is just for this purpose.

Prerequisites:

Add the web search module. Make sure “Web Searches” is checked in “Catalogs” -> “Modules”.

Once the module is installed, invoke quicksilver and check if “Google Search” is available at object panel. Now open triggers (activate, then press Cmd+ ‘ ), create a new trigger, choose “Google Search” under select an item and “Search For” under Actions(leave the target field empty.). Assign an hot-key to this trigger. (mine is CMD + CTRL + SHIFT + G). Test this trigger.

Google Search

6.Advanced Scripts: Freebies

You do not have to be an apple script guru to get the most out of your Mac. Most of the common problems are already solved for you. Just enable “Extra Scripts” in plugin. The following are the ones that I use frequently.

  • Shutdown
  • Sleep
  • Force Restart
  • Quit all Visible Apps.
  • Empty trash.
  • Lockscreen

I am sure that there are so much more, but these are the ones that I know.

There are various other modules in quicksilver. Image Manipulation, Text Manipulation, Developer Plugins etc. There are quicksilver plug-ins for third party programs like “Pathfinder” and “Transmit”. I am sure that you guys will find so much more, if you spend some time exploring quicksilver. I hope that I have provided enough information to help you start. Please let me know of any mistakes or have any general feedbacks.

 

Resources:

The definitive quicksilver manual: mysite.verizon.net/hmelman/Quicksilver.pdf

Quick Reference Guide: mysite.verizon.net/hmelman/QSRef.pdf