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Screencast: Quicksilver for Beginners

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If you’ve heard about Quicksilver but have been too timid to familiarize yourself with it, or to peek under the hood a bit, this screencast is for you!

Perhaps too often, we (as in the collective web) focus our attention on the cutting edge features of Quicksilver. Unfortunately that can make for a steep barrier to entry into this amazingly powerful program. So I wanted to take a step back and show a simple trick or two that makes Quicksilver valuable to the new user (either of Quicksilver, or the Apple platform in general).
Quicksilver Rocks!
To those veterans of our favorite launcher, this screencast may not be much for you, and I do apologize for that. I’ll do my best to expose something new and exciting with Quicksilver in the coming week or two. But for those who really don’t know Quicksilver from a hole in the ground, this aims to serve as a useful [visual] primer on getting started with a life-altering application. (I’m serious about the ‘life-altering’ thing.)

Following a simple but useful function of Quicksilver, I’ll cover the Preferences and various sections within that can help enhance your Quicksilver experience. For those who have followed along with my past screencasts, this isn’t another ‘Setup’ – instead this is aimed at explaining the various functions in Preferences, like Rescanning catalogs, finding information about plugins, and things of that nature.

You can grab this screencast in .mov format directly (below), or you can subscribe to our new TAB Screencasts feed here, or via iTunes.

Quicksilver – The Beginner’s Walkthrough (mov)
20 mins / 138 mb

This is a long one (apologies if it gets repetitive, but I wanted to cater to the new-to-Quicksilver crowd). Please feel free to leave questions below in the comments section, and we’ll do our best to answer them promptly.

35 Responses to “Screencast: Quicksilver for Beginners”

  1. MercuryChaos

    No, I think it’s really broken. I tried in in Firefox and Safari and it wouldn’t load in either, and when I tried downloading it Quicktime wouldn’t recognize it as a .mov file.

  2. Thanks for putting the time in to develop this webcast. It was a big help. I got turned on to Quicksilver just yesterday when I did a search for “mastering the mac keyboard”. I converted to Mac a year ago, but only recently learned how powerful Spotlight is, only to find out there was an even better program. I was in the middle of increasing my applications and file launching speed using Spotlight, and had created a number of alias’ for all my main apps. Then I excluded “applications” in Spotlight preferences to clean up the Spotlight display list. (Since I was using only apps alias’ named mostly using just 2 digits/letters). For example “PS” for Photoshop, or “WD” for Word. These code name alias’ allowed for lightning quick changes between apps (much faster than alt/tabing when switching between multiple apps). I expected to be able to do the same with Quicksilver, however all my attempts at getting Quicksilver to find these alias’ have not worked. They don’t show up at all. Is there something I can do in the custom section of preferences to remedy this?

  3. Frank Parker

    “the beginner’s walkthrough” (quicksilver) Doesn’t appear to be working. I get the quicktime symbol and the status says it loading but it never does.

  4. Gnufist

    Great video, thanks.
    The link for the deminimizer module seems to have gone dead, could you share your’s or do you have a link to a working download of the deminimizer?

  5. Great video. Helps a lot.
    Question that is not related to QS.
    Which application do you use, when you use this virtual flashligth in your demo to darken the rest while lighting the items that you talk about.


  6. Parneix


    I’ve notive in your screencast that when you’re about to save the new TextMate file you just created, there’s a Spotlight entry box attached to the Save window. That’s very convenient for entering tags before saving a file. Can you elaborate on that one ? How is it done? Thanks a lot for a great screencast by the way.

  7. Jean Marie Mahaney

    Thanks for your tutorial. I still have some newbie questions.
    1. My quicksilver graphics don’t look like yours. Does this matter?
    2. Say I just want to insert a date into a file name. When a filename is in the third pane is there a way to key into the middle of it to rename it or do I need to mouse into it? When I try to rename a file, I get a QS window, select a file, tab to 2nd pane, type N, tab to 3rd pane, insert some text to rename my file, and either “return” or execute, I get a donk sound, the quicksilver window flies away and the filename does not change. Rename is in my selected functions. How do I make this work?
    3. If I set up hot keys, how do I decide when I’m using hot keys instead of Mac keystrokes, or vice versa?
    Thanks a lot.

  8. I’ve tried installing Quicksilver multiple times, but for some reason the plugins don’t install. The basic 7 do, like terminal and mail, but more advanced ones do not.

    I checked on the blacktree forum, and they said it was an ownership issue in the library systems folder. I changed ownership (with my password) and still the plugins just won’t install!

    The one time they did, Quicksilver would “Unexpectedly Quit” multiple times and nobody had an answer for this.

    I’m using a macbook pro OS X version 10.4.11. Any ideas? from your screencasts…you definitely seem like the guy to ask

    thanks! Jude

  9. Tried to get the iTunes Podcast of Beginners QS. Says it is not on server. Also get nothing on either link on this site. Is Beginner QS no longer available or being revised? Thanks.

  10. @DK Yes you can do this.
    (As far as I know it only works with .txt files, but I could be wrong). Make sure you have the Append To… & Prepend To… actions checked in Quicksilver preferences > Actions

    Invoke Quicksilver & type . (period) to enter text mode.
    Type whatver you want > Tab > Append To… > Tab > TextFile.txt

    (Where TextFile is the file you want to add the text to). There also a Prepend To… action

    Yea, before I started using Quicksilver & looking into what else it could do I pretty much had the same opinion. I (ignorantly) thought ‘There’s Spotlight so I don’t need Quicksilver’.
    But after looking into what it can do, reading the guides, watching the screencasts I’m totally hooked & feel crippled using a computer without it.
    I guess if you don’t like it or it doesn’t interest you that’s fine. But if you did take the time to learn some of the powerful features (& get used to them) you’d wonder how you lived without it.

  11. Thanks for this – I’ve just started using QS and have a quick question: is there a way of writing text and sending it (plus automatically saving) to an existing text file (like a to-do list)?

    Looking forward to hearing from you and thanks in advance for your time.


  12. @ David:

    I have found that QS simplifies my computing experience more than any single thing – Dock, DragThing, launchers, folder digging, etc. I simply think of what I want – and type a few characters (usually three will do) and there it is: Applications, control panels, people in Address book, my bookmarks, songs, etc. I can launch it or do other stuff with it then.

    I find it to be the simplest possible interface to all those things. I find it much more tedious to open a finder window (and dig) or move my mouse to the dock and scroll through a (long, for me) list of apps.

    You don’t have to memorize key commands – just one to start (to invoke QS). Pick something that works for you. My hands are always on the keyboard (one, at least), so hitting my QS key and typing is pretty fast. And that’s just scratching the surface of what’s possible…

    If you had a race to launch an app between a mouse-driven menu/window and QS, QS would win *every* time.

    I came back to the MacOS after I saw this app.

  13. David

    It seems to me that KISS (Keep it simple, stupid) is implied here. Why use all these new to learn key commands when you can access the same crap by double clicking the folder on the desktop? (which, chances are it’d take less time to do so) Unless QS’s sole purpose is to allow the user to enjoy their desktop background to it’s maximum potential and to complicate their computing experience, I find it pretty unnecessary. Maybe theres something I’m missing?

  14. Andrew – I’m glad it’s been useful for you. I want to do 1 or 2 more Quicksilver entry screencasts. Just trying to determine what items to demo. Watch for them in the next week or so.

  15. This is a good (& up to date) starting point for anyone wanting to get into Quicksilver.
    I can see a few sites referencing it in the future.