Forget the Apple Terminal, now you have Quicksilver

Remember I promised I’d show you how to do your basic computer stuff from within Quicksilver? Well, it took me a while but I finally pulled myself together and wrote this tutorial – a beginner’s guide on doing all kinds of nice and useful stuff with Quicksilver.

What is Quicksilver, you ask? I dare you ask this again after reading my articles on Application Launchers – the ultimate geek Power Tools

Get started – download the program

Let’s not waste any more time. Go to the official website, download and instal Quicksilver. Once installed and running, it appears in the top menu bar as a cute gray “Q”. Press it and a menu opens – you just go invoke the Preferences option – you’ll get to chose the aspect you want, the plugins, the keyboard shortcuts and many more. By default, the shortcut hotkey to start Quicksilver is Control+Space. Test it.

How to start any application on your computer?

Invoke Quicksilver by pressing the hotkey; start typing the name of the application you want. Like the great Application Launcher it is, QS will show you the list of all applications starting with the name. Once you pick the chosen one, pressing Enter will start it.

What if you want to do something else than just starting an application?

As you noticed, Quicksilver usually shows you two panels – the first one with the list of applications matching(more or less) what you’ve written – in a most frequently used order; the second pane shows you the list of the actions you can execute. Once you select a file/folder/application in the first pane, you press ‘Tab’ to change to the actions pane. You’ll be able to do anything your Quicksilver plugins allow you to.

How to browse your computer with Quicksilver?

After you press the hotkey, start typing the name of the folder you want to go to. Pressing the left arrow key moves to the parent folder, while pressing the right arrow one changes the current folder to the currently selected one. By default, Quicksilver starts listing the folders within your home directory, but will remember the last visited folder for future use. My mumbling make things seem more complicated than they really are – all it takes is playing with the directory browsing for a few moments and you’ll get the hang of it. Remember, if you get lost, the “~” folder will get you back to your Home folder.

How to copy/move/delete a file/folder to a different location?

After you start Quicksilver, start typing the name of the file or folder(remember, in case the file is in a different folder than the current one, you’ll first have to change the dir, the way underlined above); once the file or folder is selected, press Tab to go to the second(actions) pane. Start typing the name of the action you want to do: Copy, Rename, Move To…, Move to Trash. Once selected, press Enter and it’ll magically work.

How to do the same action for several files at a time?

Let’s say you want to copy several files to a given destination. Here comes the famous “comma” trick. Go select the first file, press ‘,’ (comma). A tiny icon of it will appear below the main icon, telling you the file got selected. Now go select the second file, press comma, and so on. When you’re done, press the “Tab” key to switch to the actions pane. Any action you select will be applied to all the previously chosen files.

Find out your IP from Quicksilver

For some reason, I frequently find myself looking around to find my IP address. While I can find it from the System Preferences app or by typing ifconfig in the Terminal, an even simpler way(and definitely more beautiful) is to use Quicksilver’s built in capabilities – just go type “Get IP” in Quicksilver and your IP addresses will get shown on the screen; this, and many more built-in scripts come bundled in Quicksilver and you can try them all by browsing the /Users/user_name/Library/Application Support/Quicksilver/PlugIns/Extra Scripts.qsplugin/Contents/Resources/ExtraScripts contents.

What’s next?

Quicksilver is a huge productivity tool. The large number of plugins available for it allow you to do most everything – from sending files to FTP, email or Flickr, to controlling iTunes, iGTD and most other apps. Besides the folder navigation trick and the comma trick, the most important trick to learn is the ‘.’(dot) trick – pressing the ‘.’ key will start a text edit mode, you can use to create text files, email messages, calendar entries or address book profiles. As I said, Quicksilver’s possibilities are endless, and becoming a professional QS user isn’t as hard as it seems, and is guaranteed to impress your friends. So don’t waste time, go read some more tutorials and become the power user you’ve always dreamed of.


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