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5 handy Quicksilver triggers

Quicksilver triggers might seem like one more enigma inside of a riddle from the mind of our mysterious benefactor, Alc0r. Although writing documentation appears to be Alc0r's only kryptonite, triggers are actually pretty well described on the Blacktree wiki. Still, it feels like relatively few people I encounter are using them (most of my friends don't seem to even realize they exist). Since triggers have already been nicely introduced in some detail by Dan, I won't duplicate his efforts.

So, what's a trigger and why do I care?

Simply put, triggers let you associate a custom key combination or mouse gesture with any command you'd otherwise access via conventional methods in Quicksilver's paned interface. Once recorded, these triggers can be invoked any time manually or even programmatically (like, by a QS timer or a logical "when THIS happens"-type event).

This, as I've said before, is just huge. QS already gives you instant access to virtually any corner of your Mac with a couple keystrokes; but attaching that power to an intuitive keyboard command just takes things to another (yes! yet! another!) level.

I'll talk about mouse triggers a bit more in a future post, but for now, in the interest of spreading the word on this under-utilized piece of genius, here are a few ways I'm using keyboard triggers to control my Quicksilver world.

(A small favor: please thoroughly read the trigger documentation and Dan's post before asking for help with Trigger setup)

1. Append to commonly-used lists

QS Triggers - Append to listsAs mentioned before, it's very easy to make a trigger for the Classic Quicksilver Trick: appending to a given text file. The key to making this one work, is to not enter anything in the third (text entry) pane when you're creating the trigger. Otherwise, whatever is in there is hard-wired into the trigger. Which is bad.

The uses for this are as broad as your imagination, but, if you’re like me, it’s a great way to make it very easy to quickly capture from anywhere. Grocery lists, ideas for articles here, or weird jingles from my youth ("...Ma-zo-oh-la! Corn goo-ood-ness..."). To paraphrase Mick Jagger, it's just a click away.

2. View contents of your favorite folder

QS Triggers - View folder contentsI'd guess 80% of my folder-based movement in Quicksilver involves navigating to and opening an item within either my Desktop or my downloads folder. So I've taken out the first two steps of the process by making triggers that reveal the contents of each folder as a surfable Quicksilver list. Then -- and this is the beauty part -- I can just start typing away to winnow options down to just the sub-folder or document I want. Disco.

3. Paste from the shelf and the clipboard

QS Triggers - View clipboard historyThe shelf in Quicksilver is kind of a mystery meat location to lots of people. I like to think of it as a persistent, indestructible clipboard. You can put stuff there -- code chunks, images, favorite hex colors, email addresses, you name it -- and then access them anytime. Likewise, I think some folks still don't know that you can have Quicksilver remember old clipboards for you. I have my clipboard history set to 250 items right now, so it's really easy to find and reuse anything I've cmd-c'd in the last 2-3 days.

Once you get in the habit of using your shelf and the clipboard history (and you really should), you'll wonder how you lived without them, and, as with the folder listings mentioned above, it's fantastically useful to have a key that jumps straight to a list of the contents of either.

I've attached "ctrl-option-command-spacebar" to reveal my shelf, and "command-option-shift-spacebar" for my clipboard history. Knowing all that stuff is safely held for you, always a click away, makes your workflow much more confident. And believe me -- you won't miss having to flip back and forth to copy three separate strings of text from one place to another. Just copy copy copy. Then paste paste paste.

4. Paste usernames and trivial passwords

QS Triggers - Paste emails and usernamesThis is definitely not a best practice, so don't do it, okay?

But you can theoretically create triggers for pasting email addresses, usernames, and trivial passwords into web forms. Some apps (*cough*) don't like remembering login info across sessions, but if you're visiting them 50 times a day, it can be time-consuming to keep going through the process over and over. If you have a securely located, non-shared machine (and don't mind a little risk in your life), believe me, it's a huge time-saver. Yes, you can also require that you enter your password to paste in a password from Quicksilver, but, well. That kind of defeats the purpose.

5. Configure new triggers faster

QS Triggers - Run QS TriggersWhat fun is it if we don't get a little meta?

Once you start using triggers -- and start realizing how many places you can use them to speed things up, you'll be making new ones left and right.

To make this easy, make a trigger that pulls up the "Triggers" section in Quicksilver's preference. I use "ctrl-option-command-t" and believe me, I hit it a lot.

Happy triggering, and leave a comment if you want to share your favorite use of QS triggers. How 'bout it Dan? Alc0r? Other nerds?

Edit 2006-02-13 16:48:20: Fixed a typo on #5. With regrets: if you've been hitting "ctrl-option-space-t", you're probably frustrated and nearly homicidal by now. So don't do it any more, because it was a dumb typo on my part. Lo siento.

Jonathan's picture

I love the idea of...

I love the idea of a "Current Selection" trigger, but am having serious problems getting it to work. Setting up the Current Selection trigger as Dan describes it puts Quicksilver into a tailspin. QS doesn't activate for several seconds; then when it does pop up, it immediately vanishes again (stealing focus from my active app in the process). I have to hit Cmd-Space once again to get QS back up. So my QS hotkey has effectively become Cmd-Space-Space. After this happens once, it keeps happening EVERY TIME I activate QS, until I quit and relaunch it.

I know this is more appropriate for the QS forums, but until they're back, this seems like the next best place.




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