The Power of the Keyboard – Quicksilver and AppRocket

Prologue

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the lack of updates. School has really be putting a lot of pressure on me. I have a big test in Differential Equations next Thursday, and I haven’t learned a single bit of the material that will be covered. So I figured now would be a good time to make a post here!

I am 4 days shy of having my Apple G4 12″ Powerbook for 3 months now. I really feel like I put both feet in the water of OSX by making the purchase, and it has been fully rewarding. In the past three months I have accumulated quite a collection of essential applications for any Mac user, apps which I am sure will be the subject of future posts. As I grow dependent on these applications, I subsequently seek out equivalents for my Windows box that serves as my desktop. In this respect, the Powerbook experience has been almost as enriching for me on the Windows side of things. The two applications I’m going to share with you right now have changed the way I find and launch programs and documents while I’m working. Quicksilver and AppRocket both use real time searching to turn letters you type into what you want, almost instantly. I’ll leave the descriptions of the applications to explain the concept. Just know that once you get used to working in this manner, you won’t want to go back to digging through an applications folder or tunneling through your Start menu.

Quicksilver

I’ll start with the Mac side of things, since this is the application I’ve had the most time with. Quicksilver was loaded onto my Powerbook in the first month of ownership, and it hasn’t left since. Here’s how it works… At any time you can hit the hotkey (Default is Ctrl + Space) and a semi-translucent bezel pops up. Start typing out letters that exist in what you want to open and items matching what you’ve typed thus far start popping up. Eventually you will have typed enough letters that what you want will be displayed. If not, hit the down key, or wait a second, and a drop down list of similar matches pops up.

The original purpose of Quicksilver was the launch applications, and this is indeed what I find myself using it for the majority of the time. However, Quicksilver also gives you tons of actions you can enact on the item you’ve searched for. Hit Tab and you move to the field on the right. Now type out what you want to do, such as “Launch” or “Move”. If the operation requires a destination, a third box pops up where, you guessed it, you type out the destination. Using Quicksilver and the keyboard, never touching the mouse, you can move files, e-mail documents, display phone numbers, and even send files to contacts over IM. I often use Quicksilver to quickly launch System Preferences panels that I would otherwise have to spend time digging for.

Quicksilver allows you to change it’s behavior and appearance through a pretty robust preferences dialog. I prefer the bezel display style, but Quicksilver can look dramatically different, such as in the Flashlight style (Surely a poke at Tiger’s upcoming Spotlight search function).

For more information on this application, and a FREE download, head to http://quicksilver.blacktree.com immediately. I’m serious, don’t let yourself go another second without having this application on your Mac.

AppRocket

I’ll be honest, I’ve only had AppRocket loaded for a few minutes, so this little mini-review won’t be fair, as I have no clue how powerful this program is yet. I do know, however, that so far it has acted very similarly to Quicksilver as far as document and application launching, so most of that description applies. AppRocket carries a $9 price tag, which in my opinion is a small price to pay for the functionality it provides. Imagine reducing the amount of time you spend jumping to the desktop or expanding the Start menu by about 95%… and having all of those applications and documents just a few keyboard clicks away. In my few seconds of exploring I have not found a way to apply operations to files in the same way Quicksilver offers, but HOPEFULLY this is something I just haven’t found yet. However, if the functionality is not there, the application/document launching is still surely worth the $9 they are asking for.

You can find information and download a demo of AppRocket at the Candy Labs website.