A Look at Visor

If you grew up working on a Unix machine like I did, working in Terminal.app isn’t just a walk down memory lane, it’s more productive. While of my everyday computing happens within Terminal, be it server maintenance, MySQL, or file manipulation, using Alt-Tab or Expose to constantly switch back to the Terminal becomes cumbersome when you have more than a few windows open.

That’s where Visor comes to save the day. Visor, written by the same genius behind Quicksilver, creates a Quake-esque console window that is available via a hotkey combination of your choice. Of course, since the Quicksilver team has yet to put out a piece of software that isn’t visually incredible, Visor doesn’t disappoint from the aesthetic frame of mind either.


There’s a quick installation how-to at the official Visor site. Once you have it installed, you can edit the Visor preferences and set your own hotkey (I use Shift-Cmd-Space).

One of the nice things about Visor is that it maintains all of Terminal’s drag and drop support, so next time you’re browsing OSX Hints and find some code you’d like to run, you can select it, drag it, trigger Visor, and drop. Sweet, sweet simplicity.

I’ve been using Visor for about a month, and I’m pretty happy with the way it has seamlessly integrated the Terminal into my daily computing. Still, there are a few aspects I’d like to see improved. First, in order for Visor to work you have to have Terminal.app running. You don’t have to have an open shell, but it’d be nice to have Visor run independent of the official console. Second, it requires SIMBL, which may make it a bit intimidating to the less-than-avid user. It would be nice if it were a standalone piece of software and not a SIMBL plugin.

You can learn a bit more about Visor by browsing the Ars Technica thread that inspired it.