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Summary:

This may not be the freshest tip for the Quicksilver-inclined, but I find it infinitely more useful than constellation menus and I think it’s something every Quicksilver user should know about. Using a handy Quicksilver plugin, you can access every menu item in the currently active […]

This may not be the freshest tip for the Quicksilver-inclined, but I find it infinitely more useful than constellation menus and I think it’s something every Quicksilver user should know about.

Using a handy Quicksilver plugin, you can access every menu item in the currently active application. It may not sound useful just yet, but let me explain a bit.

There are a couple of reasons why I consider Quicksilver to be the most powerful application for OSX, not the least of which is its ability to bring your computer actions closer to telepathy. Sometimes reaching for the mouse is just too slow when you’re just trying to execute commands (something about that mouse kills productivity when you’re primarily using the keyboard). Remembering keyboard shortcuts for every app out there is a bit much, and the results can potentially taint your work if you accidentally execute the wrong one.

If you’re like me, you probably find yourself frequently hunting for the correct commands in your menubar. Or, maybe you use an application so much that you feel like you have the menubar memorized — selecting with the mouse just slows you down. In either case, Quicksilver can make you faster. Enter, the User Interface Access plugin.

To rock this aspect of Quicksilver, you have to install the plugin. Depending on when you downloaded Quicksilver, you may not have the plugin installed already. Head over to the QS preferences and click on the “plugins” icon. From there, browse “All Plug-ins” and check the box next to “User Interface Access (+)” to install the plugin. Quicksilver will do the installation on its own — so just sit back a wait a few seconds if it needs to download the source.

Once you’ve got the plugin installed, you can start using the “Current Application” object in Quicksilver to its full potential. Give it a whirl: fire up QS using whatever trigger you’ve defined (default is cmd + space) and type in “current app”. If you’re tricky, you can teach QS to use “ca” instead.

From there, tab over and type “menu bar” (or “mb”, or browse the available actions using the arrows) and then tab over again. Press the down arrow and be amazed: all of the menu items are there!

Now you’re probably thinking, “Great. I just accomplished in about 20 keystrokes what I used to do with a point and click. This helps me, how?” Well, hold on. It gets better.

The beauty of Quicksilver is that it actually learns how you like to use it. For instance, we can start by defining a trigger that automatically brings up the QS bezel with the menu bar items (I use ctrl + cmd + space, you can use whatever you’d like). Using that trigger, you can teach Quicksilver commands by typing and selecting the command that you’d like.

For instance, you can evoke the menu using your new trigger and then type “v” (for view) and “cu” (for clean up). Now you can easily execute View > Clean Up through a quick series of keystrokes. You can do this for all of your frequent commands. Or, if you’re a keyboard nut who’s really into the whole QS thing, you can create triggers for each dropdown menu. The possibilities are really endless, and can save your precious seconds in front of the computer.

  1. Be sure to enable:

    Access for assistive devices in Universal Access pane of System Preferences

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  2. The default key to activate Quicksilver is control-space not command-space.

    To use the Current Application proxy object you need to enable advanced features and you need to check Proxy Objects in the Quicksilver set in the Catalog.

    Unfortunately, in the current release of Quicksilver you can’t create triggers using these actions and the 3rd pane. The contents of the third pane are built dynamically (by talking with the application) and this can’t be saved in a trigger. You can create triggers for these applications if you leave the third pane blank.

    You can assign or change keyboard shortcuts for any application’s menus in the Keyboard & Mouse System Preferences in the Keyboard Shortcuts tab.

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  3. Pierre Neihouser Wednesday, November 1, 2006

    I currently use MenuMaster (from Unsanity). I tried the QS way a long time ago, but MenuMaster is much faster. I’ll never go back !! It’s not free tho

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  4. Thanks for filling in some of the holes there guys. I knew I had forgot something, and the System Preferences part is pretty key, as is the Proxy Objects part of the QS catalog.

    I’ve never tried MenuMaster, thought it looks like a nice piece of software. I think I’ll stick with QS because I like the idea of keeping it simple with one application that I already use.

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  5. I’m using version B51. I just downloaded it today, but I don’t see “User Interface Access (+)” in my plugins.

    Where should I be looking?

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  6. #5 – click on ‘all plug-ins’ to see the entire list.

    Ummm…. user interface access doesn’t give you the ‘current application’ command. What’s up with that?

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  7. Yeah, that’s where I’m not seeing the User Interface Access plugin. Again, I downloaded today…

    Is there another place to download this plugin?

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  8. [...] Yasser Dehab of The Apple Blog adds to this neverending list by showing you how to use Quicksilver to access every menu item in any Mac application. [...]

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  9. i also needed to enable beta features in order for the quicksilver area of the catalog pane to show proxy objects. (i’m using version B49).

    thanks for the heads up on this. i’ve been searching for a way to do this kind of thing with quicksilver for a long time.

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  10. #5/7 – it should be down at the bottom of the list in alphabetical order.

    Make sure you have selected ALL PLUG INS not the Installed Plug-ins list shown in this post.

    But as I said, I can’t get this plug-in give me a ‘current application’ command.

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