Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More on Quicksilver

Matt Corkum commented on my last post that Apple should buy the company and incorporate it into OS X. And that got me to thinking...

We've been down this road before with Apple, most recently with the company's inclusion of Dashboard in Tiger. Some Apple pundits were annoyed that they didn't "do the right thing" and buy Konfabulator rather than develop their own (inferior, IMO) version. Alas, it was up to Yahoo to make this move. So now I'm running Konfab for free and Dashboard is pretty much bloatware as far as I'm concerned. But cool as free Konfabulator is, it's no Quicksilver--though, as my Windows friends will be sure to point out, at least it's not Mac only.

So will Quicksilver make it into Leopard (or whatever they're going to call X.5)? Some might counter that it already is in Tiger, albeit in a much more limited fashion. I'm refering to Spotlight.

Spotlight, the excellent search function of OS X, does some of what Quicksilver does in terms of launching apps, but Spotlight is much more powerful as a search utility because it indexes what's inside files and anything attached to them as well (i.e., metadata), whereas QS only indexes file names; if you're looking for something obscure in the dusty corners of your hard drive, Spotlight's hard to beat.

What Spotlight doesn't do, however, is allow you to manipulate the files that a search turns up, and this is where Quicksilver wins hands down. On the other hand, Automator, another OS X utility, does allow you to do some of the same things that Quicksliver does. In my view, however, Quicksilver wins here too because it's, well, quick. I'm no expert with Automator actions, but in my limited experience, they take time to run, whereas Quicksilver is pretty much instantaneous. Plus--again in my limited experience--Automator is not all that intuitive; neither is QS, but it's better than Automator I feel.

So what Apple needs to do, if they don't buy out Quicksilver (which in a way would be a bit of a pity since there's no telling where it will go if left to evolve on its own) is to merge Spotlight and Automator into a single, awesome utility that would let users manipulate their files as easily and as elegantly as Quicksilver does now. Given Apple's track record, it's not an unthinkable task.

Now, if someone could just tell me how to use Quicksilver to save an Excel file as a PDF document and attach it to a Mail message to the addressee of my choice, I'd be on cloud 42.

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