A Beginner's Guide to Quicksilver

  Matt Cone       July 3, 2007      Tutorials Mac Apps


Quicksilver is a freeware application launcher and productivity program for Mac OS X. With a couple of keystrokes, you can quickly and effortlessly start applications, open files and folders, move things around on your Mac, and even navigate your iTunes library - all without using your mouse! Quicksilver integrates seamlessly with Mac OS X and most popular Mac applications. With a little practice, using Quicksilver will become second nature, and you’ll be using it without even knowing it.

Quicksilver for Mac

To help you get started with this great application, we’ve recorded a screencast and written about the basics. Obviously, this isn’t a complete guide to Quicksilver, but it should be enough to get you started.

Installing Quicksilver

  1. Download and run the Quicksilver installer.

  2. The Quicksilver welcome message will appear. Click Continue to start the installation process.

    Quicksilver for Mac

  3. To extend Quicksilver’s functionality, you can select plug-ins to install. These modules will allow Quicksliver to integrate with other applications on your Mac. If you’re not sure which modules to install, or if you don’t want to install any modules right now, don’t sweat it. You can also add modules later. When you’re finished, click Continue.

    Quicksilver for Mac

  4. Since Quicksilver will always be running in the background, you’ll need to assign a keystroke to make Quicksilver appear. The default shortcut is Ctrl-Space, but you can change that to whatever you want. You can also change the interval at which Quicksilver updates its catalog, or list of files and applications that can be launched. The lower you set the interval, the more work your Mac will have to do. When you’re finished, click Continue.

    Quicksilver for Mac

  5. You’re almost finished installing Quicksilver. Last up: A helpful window full of tips and tricks for beginners. Pay heed, greenhorns! When you’re finished, click Continue.

    Quicksilver for Mac

  6. Now you’re at the main Quicksilver window. This is what you’ll see from now on, every time you launch Quicksilver with the keystroke you set. Just start typing the name of an application you’d like to launch, or the name of a file you’d like to open. Quicksilver will try to guess what you’re typing and auto-complete the name. Just press the Return key to open the file or application.

    Quicksilver for Mac

    To make this window disappear, press the Esc key or the Quicksilver keystroke.

That’s it. Quicksilver is now installed on your Mac, and unless you uninstall it, it’ll automatically start every time you turn on your Mac. It’s there waiting in the background.

How to Open Things With Quicksilver

Once you starting getting the hang of Quicksilver, you won’t want to stop using it. Opening stuff with keystrokes takes a lot less time than clicking around in folders! But how do you use Quicksilver to open applications and other objects? Here are some ways to open common, everyday objects:

Obviously, this just scratches Quicksilver’s surface. To learn about about the ways you can use Quicksilver, take a look at the official Quicksilver documentation.

Change Quicksilver’s Theme

One of the nice things about Quicksilver is that it’s completely customizable. There are a number of themes to choose from - try them all until you find one you like! Here’s how:

  1. There are two ways to open Quicksilver’s Preferences. If you see Quicksilver’s menu in the menu-bar, click on it and select Preferences. Or, you can open Quicksilver with the keystroke you assigned it, click the arrow, and then select Preferences.

    Quicksilver for Mac

  2. Select the Preferences tab. In the side-bar, click Appearance. Select a theme from the Command Interface menu.

    Quicksilver for Mac

    Some of the themes must be downloaded. If the options in the menu are grayed-out, you’ll need to download their plug-ins. (See the next section to learn how to do that.)

Download Quicksilver Plug-ins

Extend Quicksilver’s functionality with free modules, which allow Quicksilver to interact with the applications on your Mac. Quicksilver allows you to download and install plug-ins on the fly. All you need to do is open the Quicksilver Preferences, select the plug-ins you want to install, and Quicksilver will automatically do the rest. Here’s how to do it:

  1. There are two ways to open Quicksilver’s Preferences. If you see Quicksilver’s menu in the menu-bar, click on it and select Preferences. Or, you can open Quicksilver with the keystroke you assigned it, click the arrow, and then select Preferences.

    Quicksilver for Mac

  2. Select the Plug-ins tab. Select the checkboxes of the plug-ins you’d like to add. Quicksilver will automatically download and install the plug-ins.

    Quicksilver for Mac

Watch Our Quicksilver Screencast

Sometimes seeing is believing. That’s how we feel about Quicksilver - it’s easier to learn how to use the application by watching someone else use it for a while. That’s why we made our screencast! Kick back and watch us do all of the stuff we’ve talked about in this tutorial. Just click here to watch the screencast.

Quicksilver for Mac

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