Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Quicksilver miracle

As a prelude to my magnum opus on open source (No! Wait! Don't run! I was only joking. It will be a regular blogpost!), today I will expound upon the miracle that is Quicksilver. This application is a perfect example of what open-source can do. To be honest, I'm not sure it's truly open-source, since I don't see where you can download the source code on their website; this would make it proprietary software. But it is freeware, and it's for Mac only (although I and my Windows-using friends would be happy to hear about any Windows equivalents).

Most people I know who use Quicksilver can't imagine computing without it, and I'm sure that a significant number of users would consider it the single most useful applcation on their computer. What does it do? Well, you can read a detailed description here but basically it's an application launcher on super-steroids. If, like me, you're a keyboard-shortcut kind of guy (as opposed to a slug who doesn't feel at home unless it's drooling all over the mouse), then Quicksilver allows you to launch applications with a few keystrokes. If only for this, it does a fantastic job. But you can also use it to, for instance, select a document and attach it to a mail message addressed to a specific person. No more browsing through your file hierarchy to find the file, dragging it to a new message (that you previously created) and typing in the address. Quicksliver offers an infinitely more elegant and faster solution. It does many other things, and I'm discovering new ways to use it all the time.

Did I mention that it's free? How can something this useful be free? It defies logic. And yet there it is. The developers at Blacktree have apparently decided altruistically that their mission is to make the (computing) world a better place. I'm not sure how they're sustaining the project, but I, for one, am truly grateful. Until a practical voice-based interface comes along (don't get me started about OS X's laughable speakable items function), Quicksilver is one of the best ways to improve your productivity on your Mac.


matt said...

Quicksilver is an incredible piece of engineering. I haven't used it extensively as I don't have a Mac of my own - only at work - but it really blows me away.

I think Apple should buy the company and incorporate it into OSX. ;)

Peter Garner said...

Matt, y'know, I was thinking exactly the same thing. Let's hope Apple doesn't "pull another Konfabulator" though.

matt said...

Haha, yes, that was quite an obvious ripoff.

As Jobs would quote Picaso: "Great artists steal."

As far as that quote goes, I guess he can't blame Bill Gates for being the greatest "artist".