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Quicksilver Does Menus Too

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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.

39 Responses to “Quicksilver Does Menus Too”

  1. I was so excited I could access my menu items but then all of a sudden my triggers tab in QS just wont load up. I tried to uninstall and install the app again but the same thing, the triggers menu just shows the progressing icon but nothing happens there.

  2. I think what you’re referring to is built in quite nicely into Leopard. System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Show Help Menu. Mine is set to command-shift-/, and it’s very sweet. Hit that shortcut and type part of the command name. Even highlights it so you can learn the app’s shortcut.

  3. I’m not a newbie but I’m totally lost in getting this to work and I really want it to work because I have multiple monitors and getting from a window to a menu on another monitor is a real pain.

    Access for assistive devices in the System Preference, done, checked
    QS v54 installed, Enable advanced features, done, checked
    QS Catalog, Quicksilver, Proxy Objects, done, checked

    Plug ins: ONLY 3 SHOW UP

    Where do I find the wealth of other plug ins and in particular the magic one being described here?

  4. #24 Not blow your high, but in 99% of the applications out there, save as is just shift-cmd-s, which is faster then cmd-space(or insert random trigger) – sa -enter.
    QS is cool, but not because it can emulate the simplest of commands with more keystrokes. This is good for when you have menues with 100+ items and frequently use many of them, and simply for saving applications with poor menudesign.

  5. Is there a way to have QuickSilver keep all of the menu commands in memory? I ask this because I commonly use commands that are buried deep in a submenu, and have no keyboard shortcut, but because of the number of menus, they don’t load quickly. I hit cmd-space, and wait…and wait…and wait more. Finally, the menus are accessible, but not their submenus or commands in submenus.

    Is there a way around this?

  6. Reality Bytes

    Hmm… I am starting to “get the geek”, after having avoid QS for a while, I’m really starting to make it, make me more productive. However, I’ve installed the module, turned on advanced, still no “current application” action.

  7. Word of warning for those using parallels… in turning on proxy objects (ie. accessibility or something), keys don’t work like they use to in parallels.

    eg. Cmd-Tab does not allow you to cycle through apps when parallels has focus. You have to ‘defocus’ out of parallels first and then do stuff.

  8. Howard Melman

    Annie, you need to go into the Catalog, under Quicksilver, check (to enable) Proxy Objects. That’s where Current Application (and many other useful objects) live.

  9. I have having trouble getting the “current application” command. I have downloaded the app, enabled advanced features, and enabled access for assistive devises. Does anyone know what else I should do?

  10. If nothing shows up in the 3rd pane, go to System Preferences::Universal Access and check the box: “Enable access for assistive devices”

    “#11 Phil Bowell

    When I try to access any menu items i don’t get anything in the third pane at all. I dont get anything if i try and browse them either. Any ideas why?”

  11. After struggling through several Quicksilver crashes trying to impliment great, fantastic, Quicksilver shortcuts. Sorry, I just don’t see the appeal of QS; it’s easier for me to just use whatever shortcuts are built into OS X.

    It’s still a very geeky app and not meant for general consumption.

  12. Howard Melman

    As of B51 Quicksilver is a little cleaner. There’s no longer a beta-mode, just “advanced features” that can be enabled. The names of all the plugins are corrected as well. If a plugin ends in “(+)” then it requires advanced features (both to appear in the plugins pane and to work). Some plugins end in a beta symbol, those work just like a regular plugin but should be considered to be in beta (more so than Quicksilver itself) based on stability.

  13. #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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Pierre Neihouser

    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

  17. Howard Melman

    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.