Fast Web searches via Quicksilver

Fast Web searches via Quicksilver

Summary: If you're not already using QuickSilver, stop reading this post right now and download this excellent piece of software. QuickSilver is the quintissential launcher application for Mac OS X and it saves me tons of time.

TOPICS: Browser

Quicksilver LogoIf you're not already using QuickSilver, stop reading this post right now and download this excellent piece of software. QuickSilver is the quintessential launcher application for Mac OS X and it saves me tons of time.

If I want to launch an application or document I hit the command and space bar keys (which I've mapped to QS) then I enter the first few characters of what I'm looking for, select it from the resulting list (if needed), then hit enter to launch it. All without leaving the keyboard.

Compare the above with using the mouse to dig through Finder windows to find an application or a document. Using the keyboard is infinitely faster and QuickSilver is an application that I can't live without.

If your a QuickSilver novice, practice using it as a launcher for about a week before delving into the following, more advanced topic.

Here's an advanced QuickSilver trick that's a huge time saver if you constantly look things up online - and who doesn't? If you regularly use search platforms like Google, Wikipedia, MacUpdate, IMDB or Gracenote, Quicksilver can save you a bunch of time.

The tip involves using Mac OS X's little-known shared find clipboard to pass text to a search engine while using the keyboard within QuickSilver. For example, say you're reading a blog post in Safari that references a term that you'd like to look up on Wikipedia. Simply highlight the term, hit command-E, then invoke QuickSilver (command-space), type wiki, then return twice. Boom! A new browser tabs opens with your Wikipedia search results. This is much faster than loading up a search engine page and copy and pasting the term into it.

It's a little tough to grapple at first, but once you get it configured right, you'll wonder how you lived without it. These tutorials should help get you started.

The only problem is that there isn't a QS plug-in for my favorite Web browser (Flock) yet. This means that I can't copy text from a Web page in Flock to the shared find clipboard and pass it directly to QS. I can still invoke QS, type a search engine shortcut (i.e. goog) then hit enter once, then type a search term, but that's a few extra steps. I'm not sure if this is because there isn't a Flock plug-in for QS or because Flock doesn't respect the shared find clipboard's command-E shortcut. If you're a Flockstar, chime in!

Topic: Browser

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Can't you just use the dock?

    If there's an application or document you use all the time, isn't it quicker to throw it in the dock, or in the side bar of the finder, rather than launching Quicksilver and typing in a few letters?
    tic swayback
    • Yeah, why not the dock . . .?

      I've got about 20 apps in mine along with about 10 most used
      utility-type things. Lesser used apps and utilities are accessable
      from the Menu via 'HimmelBar'. All this is VERY fast access for me.
      Mind you, I'm sure my work has different dynamics as Jason's, as
      he indicates a fair bit of keyboard work.
    • Mousing is slower than typing

      While I agree that the dock is fast, it's not as fast as typing a keyboard shortcut because I don't have to take my hands off the keyboard to use the mouse.

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
      • Jason: Trackpad

        keeps hands near the action -- and after using one since 1995, ya kinda get pretty adept to using it. Different strokes for different folks, though.
  • What advantage is their over Spotlight?

    I had a friend show me QuickSilver awhile back and my reply was "I
    basically just do that in Spotlight."
    Is there something I'm missing here?
    Benton Rich
    • Grammar

      Sorry - I meant "What advantage is there over Spotlight."
      Benton Rich
    • Several advantages over spotlight

      It's much, much faster on invoking and then actually searching

      It looks and feels way cooler

      I don't know how or when it indexes, but everything was
      available to me very shortly after installing. Whereas Spotlight
      seems to grind away forever on things...and if you mount a new
      volume full of files, it starts grinding and takes over your cpu
      before you can set the prefs to ignore the mounted volume
    • Speed

      QuickSliver is infinitely faster than Spotlight and it looks better doing it. Also spotlight is very basic and can't execute a Web search inside Wikipedia, for example.

      Besides, QS is free, so there's little (if any risk) in using it. (I haven't used spotlight barely at all since I found QS).

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady