Blog Post

Quick Search Box or Quicksilver?

For years I (along with the rest of TheAppleBlog) have championed the launcher known as Quicksilver. Its versatility solidified it as a must-have utility on any Mac (s aapl). But as OS X matured, the developer’s attention to Quicksilver waned, and he was eventually hired on at Google (s goog). Known for encouraging employee pet projects, Google soon announced Quick Search Box, which from all indications appeared to be the evolution of Quicksilver.

The story doesn’t end there. Quick Search Box started life as a fairly dumbed-down, albeit OS X-compatible, alternative to Quicksilver. It seemed that this new offering had the support of Google and would go far. In the meantime, Quicksilver’s code was open-sourced, and the community started slowly hacking away at it.

Now today, we have access to a community-supported version of Quicksilver that runs smoothly on OS X 10.6, as well as the Google-backed Quick Search Box which also works well enough. So which is the better choice for daily use?

I dumped Quicksilver a year or so ago in favor of Quick Search Box. The replacement was good enough for launching and finding files, and since that’s mostly what I used it for, things were good. However, as time passed, the functionality of Google’s product hasn’t closed the gap nearly as much as I’d like to see. Neither has the developer support really exploded in the form of plugins, as we’ve seen over the years for Quicksilver. Worst of all, Quick Search Box isn’t as responsive as I’d like.

So not too long ago, I went to Blacktree and downloaded the latest Quicksilver release. I found it to be much faster than the Google solution right away. Further use has shown it to be nowhere near as buggy as it once was (I have yet to experience a Quicksilver crash after a couple months’ use). But the best part is, all of the old functionality I knew and loved — both native (oh, how I missed complex triggers) as well as plugin support (let’s hear it for text and image manipulation) — is there and better than ever.

Whether you’re a current user of Google’s Quick Search Box, a past user of Quicksilver or new to both, I’d highly recommend taking a look at the latest build of Quicksilver. It’s been a happy homecoming for me, and I’m confident that the great functionality, speed, and extensibility that the app offers will make it of great use to you, too.

If you’ve found bliss with either program, please share your tale, and what it was that was the make or break feature for you.

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29 Responses to “Quick Search Box or Quicksilver?”

  1. Station Grey

    I’ve been using QS for a few years and constantly telling every other Mac user to use it. A QS-free Mac felt weird.

    Been trying Launchbar for a few days now though. There are two large and obvious disadvantages – it’s not free (or even cheap) and it’s not pretty the way QS is. But it’s still better. Fast, effortless, accurate and with more features (that I’ve found given both equal amount of digging). It’s like QS is but more so.

    I wish it was free and I wish it looked as pretty. But it’s definitely better.

    The question is whether I can be bothered to stump up for it when the trial’s over or switch back to the perfectly-good QS.

    Will try Alfred now too.

  2. I have been a Quicksilver user for years. It is the first thing I install on my machine. From launching apps and URLs to navigating my files and copying/moving them and more. I can’t list everything I do with it. Yes, it even resizes images…no more dedicated apps for that. But hearing about Alfred, I’m going to give it a try.

  3. Never could get into the launch bar craze. Spotlight does pretty well for searching and launching apps; all that other stuff is easier for me to do in Terminal. Actually, I’ve been enjoying DTerm of late — instant command line access makes something like Quicksilver that much less appealing.

  4. Quicksilver. Hands down.

    I was really excited when I learned about QSB, and wanted to love it. However, I have had the same problems and issues that the article outlines, and have stayed faithful to QS, especially since it is now, for me, very stable. The other killer feature for me is drap and drop filing; the ability to start QS, search for a folder, and then drop a file from my desktop into it is crucial to my very existence, and until someone else brings that to the party, I expect to remain faithful.

    • You and I are on the same page Bill. I get the feeling that QS is definitely more of a power-user tool, as it does so much more than just ‘launch’. Most users don’t/won’t get to that level with their launcher, which is why I believe Alfred is so popular here in the comments – it certainly seems to be solid, but also no where near what QS has been able to do.

  5. Tried QSB when it first came out, but the killer QuickSilver (QS) plugin for me was Google Voice integration -which I use all day long.

    I was severely disappointed that the original QS developer went to Google, dropped QS, started QSB only to let it stagnate. I don’t get it. What was the point? You’d think it was to develop it beyond ver .01 or whatever.

    Worst of all (for me) there was and still is no support for GVoice! A google product! Wasn’t this supposed to integrate with all of Googles apps?

    After a month I went back to QS. Every now and then I check back in to QSB only to see it’s just as I left it, buggy and people still complaining about missing features. Between the shelf, the GVoice plugin, the Twitter plugin, and more Im sticking with QS.

  6. funkymonkey

    I’ve used and loved Quicksilver for about 4 years (and watched all of Mr. Santilli’s vids, thanks! Oh and where have they gone btw?) but recently moved to Alfred once the PowerPack was launched. QS is quick but Alfred is blistering and the memory footprint is something like a fifth of QS.
    It can’t do everything QS can do right now but is being very actively developed and the feature set the developer has planned will mean it catches up very soon.

    As for QSB it held so much promise but since Google dropped it as an official app, development seems to be very slow. The performance is very sluggish and buggy also.

  7. Yerameyahu

    After previously using QS, I switched to GQSB. Eventually, I settled (back) on Butler, because QSB was, itself, too unstable on my 2009 MacBook Pro. :( Butler’s gone non-free, alas.

    LaunchBar is nice, but I don’t want to buy an app when there’s so much chance of switching in this field, you know?

    Maybe I’ll try Alfred, but last I heard it was in alpha development.

  8. Longtime QS user who used GQSB for a while but went back to QS as soon as the stable Snow Leopard release came out. Works great, though I miss the regular development of the old days.

    I’ll definitely give Alfred a try though.

  9. Thanks for the feedback everyone. QS is one of those – ‘when you pry it from my cold dead hands’ scenarios for me. But, I’m seeing Alfred enough that I’m going to give it a shot now – though some of the LaunchBar features are more well-rounded for what I want… Hmmm.
    On the other hand, I’ll be sticking with QS until one of these other options wins out.

    • Kevin Lee

      What functionality do you use in QS that is not available in the native Spotlight? I liked QS just fine, but found that I really only needed app and file launching (which works fine in spotlight).

      • i use(d) QS regularly to move and copy files around the hard drive, email pictures/files, compress/decompress zips, and most especially to reference past listing in clipboard history. So definitely more than Spotlight can handle.

        As everyone is saying, Alfred looks promising, as does LaunchBar which has been around a while.

  10. I’ve used both QSB and Quicksilver, but I’ve been using Alfred for a few months and it is definitely my favourite. I never used the complex triggers that QS offers and I do miss the fact that QSB plays really well with Google services, but as a basic launcher/file locater Alfred is great. I find it as quick as Quicksilver and much more responsive than QSB.

  11. Bryan Schuetz

    Having been a fanatic if Quicksilver in the past, (In no small part due to Nick’s coverage of it here in the past) and an avid user of Quick Search Box for a time, I have to agree QSB just doesn’t quite cut it. A couple months ago I moved on to Launchbar and haven’t looked back. It’s as good as I remember Quicksilver ever being, better in some ways.

  12. I wasn’t satisfied with either… QS was too complicated, GQSB was too limited. I’m very happy with the new option Alfred though. It’s very fast and simple and if you need more functionality you can buy the powerpack which I’m debating at the moment. Check it out!