A Launch Bar With a Lot More


qsb Last month, I made the switch to Google Quick Search Box (s goog) from Quicksilver on my Mac (s aapl). While Quicksilver improved my efficiency and cut the time I spent searching for files, Google Quick Search Box has upped the ante even further by adding in the ability to speedily access all my Google services through the same interface. I’m very impressed with it.

Google Quick Search Box is available as a free download for OS X. On the surface, it seems fairly simple. Just like with Quicksilver, you hit a keyboard shortcut and up pops a box where you can run a search. You can access applications and files from there, too. But Google Quick Search Box also has some additional capabilities:

  • Find contacts within your address book
  • Complete calculations
  • Open your bookmarks in new browser tabs
  • Look up dictionary definitions
  • Launch songs in iTunes
  • Launch files saved in your Google Docs account
  • Perform a Google search

That’s not an exhaustive list, and you can even add features, like the ability to send messages to Twitter.

You can also perform a variety of actions on any file you find through Google Quick Search Box. With a couple of clicks, you can access information about the file, move it to the trash, and even open files in larger type. There are also a number of application-specific actions you can take, like ranking a song in iTunes or composing a new email to a contact.

It may seem like the wide variety of tasks that Google Quick Search Box can handle could be overwhelming when you sit down and use it, but it’s very adaptable. As you use it, it learns which files you’re most likely to launch, speeding up the process.

If you’ve used Google Desktop in the past, you’ll be familiar with the concept behind the Quick Search Box — but there are some important differences between Google Desktop and the standalone launcher: the ability to perform actions on your search results and access to calculations and definitions are unique to Google Quick Search Box. The Quick Search Box can also be extended with plugins, and the code is available on Google Code if you want to make changes of your own. Google Desktop does offer one advantage over the Quick Search Box: the ability to search cached and deleted files.

Google Quick Search Box makes it possible for you to significantly speed up your work. Even if you operate more in the cloud than on your desktop, you can access the applications and files you need to work on quickly. The features of Google’s launch application set it far ahead of applications I’ve used in the past.

What are your favorite ways to use Google Quick Search Box?


Jochen Witte

I agree with J.D.: QuickSilver has much more features and also feels much better in terms of privacy ;-)

Oliver Ruehl

Thanks for the tip!

I’m a MAC guy really, but is this coming for Windows too?
I’d love to have this working with XP at work ;-)

Great articles here, keep up the good work!


With the exception of “Launch files saved in your Google Docs account”, QuickSilver handles all of that functionality out of the box as well, and oh so much more.

To say that “Google Quick Search Box also has some additional capabilities” is not quite accurate.

There’s a “right tool” for everyone, for me it’s QS, but I’m interested in your opinions. Thanks for sharing.


I too have installed Google QS Box but I find I never use it. I find that everything I would use it for I can do right from Spotlight anyway.

I’d love to be convinced otherwise.

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