Thursday, 4 January 2007

Mac things I wish I had on my PC #1… QuickSilver

I only recently discovered QuickSilver for OS X which is probably the most useful little app I have come across in a while. Basically it's a combined application/file search and keyboard launcher that you invoke with hotkeys (ctrl + space by default). You then begin typing what you want to find, whether it is an application, contact, bookmark or file and QuickSilver shows you results while you type. It's hugely powerful and customisable and has stacks of plugins to intergrate with applications. For example you can call up contacts in your Apple Address Book, search within a contact and display the results on screen within a few seconds without touching the mouse. Here’s a video I found of QS with the Cube interface in action:

If you do have a Mac take a look at Dan Dickinson’s quick guide to “A better OS X in just 10 minutes” which gives a nice run through some of QS's features.

QuickSilver for Windows?

There are a few similar tools for Windows, one of which is the new Start Seach in Vista, however I don’t think any come close to the slickness and elegance of QuickSilver apart from perhaps Launchy which is free from and well worth a look.

Some other alternatives I have come across:

Colibri – Looking very good and obviously heavily influenced by QS but themes and configuration seem limited. I’m not too keen on the preferences being controlled via the search interface as well, I’d prefer just a normal window.

AppRocket - I tried this but it sits at the top of your screen, isn’t as slick and isn’t free.

SlickRun – I was using this before I found QuickSilver on the Mac. It tended to get in the way because it wouldn’t keep its screen position every time I logged in using remote desktop. You also need to predefine your keywords which isn’t as handy as being able to search.

Keybreeze – Formerly PC-Com, I haven’t tried it but the screen shots didn’t grab me compared to QS or Launchy.

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