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Difficulty Level: Easy
What You Need:
> Quicksilver, version B54 (free, www.blacktree.com)
> Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) or later
In our Apr/09 issue we introduced you to Quicksilver (“Getting Started with Quicksilver,” p88), a versatile utility that lets you use keyboard commands to launch applications, move files, start composing new email, open webpages, that kind of thing. But Quicksilver can do a lot more, so we’re back with more of our favorite ways it can save you time on your Mac. Once you get the hang of using Quicksilver’s keyboard commands, you’ll be surprised at how often it comes in handy.
Open-source Quicksilver hasn’t had a major update since 2008, but it’s just so darn useful (especially for laptop users who aren’t big trackpad fans) that we can’t help giving it some love. Version B54 works well on our Leopard Macs, but if you experience a lot of Quicksilver crashes, check code.google.com/p/blacktree-alchemy/downloads/ for a newer build, currently at B56A7.
When that lovely QS startup logo spins to life on the Desktop, Quicksilver junkies breathe a happy sigh.
The tips in this how-to rely on plug-ins that add more functionality to Quicksilver, so open Quicksilver’s Plug-ins list (Quicksilver > Plug-ins), select Recommended in the pane on the left, and check the boxes for these plug-ins, if they’re not checked already: Dictionary Module, Extra Scripts, Flickr Upload, Google Calendar Module, Image Manipulation Actions, iTunes Module, Screen Capture Actions, and Text Manipulation Actions. Now click over to the Preferences tab and check the Enable Advanced Features box. (Note to sticklers: Since we’re just tweaking options here, we didn’t count this step in the “9 More Things” referenced in this article’s headline.)
Press Control-space to call up the Quicksilver window--it starts off with two panes, the Subject and the Action. Your cursor is already in the Subject pane, so type a period to enter text mode, and type a word you want to look up. Press the Tab key, which moves the cursor to the Action pane, and start typing define, until you see the Define With Dict.org command. Use your arrow keys to select it, and press Return to run it. A new window pops open with results from multiple online dictionaries, including the Free Online Dictionary of Computing--great for looking up techie terms. And you never had to touch your Web browser.
Stop wasting brain cells remembering the keyboard shortcuts for taking a screenshot in Mac OS X. Press Control-space for a Quicksilver window, begin typing Capture in the Subject pane, and you’ll see the Capture Region, Capture Screen, and Capture Window commands. Select one, and the Action pane automatically reads Run, so just press Return to run it. Screenshots are saved to your Desktop. If you don’t see those Capture commands, open Quicksilver > Catalog, select Quicksilver in the list on the left, and make sure Internal Commands is checked.
Did someone order a screenshot?
Quicksilver lets you pile up multiple files in the Subject area and then perform the same Action on all of them. To do this, start typing the name of the first file or folder in the Subject box (in the results list, you can press the / key to drill into a selected folder, or Shift-/ for the next level higher), then press the comma (,) key. This puts the selected file in a temporary stack and keeps the cursor in the Subject pane, so you can get another file. Keep selecting files and pressing the comma key until your stack is complete, then press Tab to move the cursor to the Action pane, where you can find and run one Action on every file in your stack. You might want to create a stack of images to use in step 5.
Stacked-up items appear as tiny thumbnails below the Subject pane.