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Sometimes really useful software comes in small packages. Just about six months ago, I stumbled upon the developer preview of Google (s goog) Quick Search Box (QSB) for the Mac, and I’ve been using it ever since. Google should be proud, because generally speaking, I shy away from desktop search applications, including their own Google Desktop for Mac product. Today, they released the full, stable version of QSB for Mac.
Quick Search Box succeeds by being simple and unobtrusive, instead of trying to superimpose itself on top of my computing workspace. In case you haven’t yet taken a peek at the developer preview, it basically consists of a floating Google search bar that retrieves results not only from the web, but also from your files, applications, history, contacts, and more. And Google plans to expand QSB’s reach further still in upcoming versions. Might I suggest Mail.app integration, Google QSB team?
Launching QSB is a simple matter of pressing Control + Spacebar (or a shortcut of your choosing, changeable in the app’s preferences) at any time. Results are automatically returned as you type, and you can specify searchable items and locations if you’d rather simplify your results. Gmail and Google Apps are also searchable via QSB.
Applications can also be launched and documents opened directly from the app, capability which makes QSB resemble a certain launcher app for OS X that has acquired a pretty significant following. The app I’m talking about is of course Quicksilver, a tool many swear by for eliminating some of OS X’s unnecessary steps and just generally making life easier for Mac owners.
The similarity between the two apps is far from coincidental. One of QSB’s developers is none other than Nicholas Jitkoff, the man responsible for Quicksilver, which is now open-source since his move to the Google team. QSB is a natural extension of Jitkoff’s work with Quicksilver, according to comments he made to Ars Technica when the QSB developer preview was originally launched in January of this year:
There were limitations to the way Quicksilver works that would make certain types of functionality very difficult to do, particularly anything that involves text entry—like handling URLs or typing search queries. Quicksilver and Quick Search Box are both focused on search, but QSB is going to try to search everything — something QS wouldn’t be able to scale well to do.”
QSB certainly can scale, owing to its ability to support plug-ins, which should, in theory, give it the ability to eventually search anything that is indexable. One great plug-in that comes with the launch version of QSB is a Twitter support, so that you can actually send tweets right from the application. Hopefully, that’s only a taste of what’s to come.