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How do you describe Quicksilver?

Acting without doing SOUNDS good, but... (Ask MetaFilter)

I really liked this AskMe question about Quicksilver, since it's one that comes up a lot for folks who don't get as enthused about the app as I (and many of you) do:

Everywhere I go on the internet, Mac users rave about Quicksilver. I've downloaded it a couple times, and I sort of get that it COULD be really useful, but I am not sure how...

So what am I missing with Quicksilver? I see so many other people who get a lot of use out of it, and I am sure I can fit it in somewhere, too, but I just can't seem to figure it out....

Here's a portion of how I responded in comments:

Quicksilver provides access to almost any kind of stuff in your Mac's and your world -- contact information, bookmarks, files, Applications, system settings, and pretty much anything else -- and it lets you leap to any of these things by typing a few letters of the name (NB: Spotlight is more about contents and QS is more about names; they're complementary, not competing). So, that's the neato, Day 0 stuff.

But the big sexy comes with how QS understands the potential verbal relationships between any of those objects, then gives you a single keyboard interface for making amazing things happen...

I'll admit that it always makes me realize what a fanboy I am whenever I try to explain Quicksilver, but, truthfully, it is kind of challenging.

How do you describe Quicksilver to folks who don’t get all the fuss? How do you relate the sexiness?

ron___b's picture

QS = hard to explain because it's hard to learn...

IMHO, the main reason why Quicksilver is hard to explain is the same reason that it's really somewhat hard to learn. Although it's reasonably self-consistent, it's still a new syntax that requires you to learn how to 'speak' QS. And until you've done that (and I haven't, not really) then QS is pretty much just "A way to set up keyboard shortcuts to do common operations"... which would be my quick definition of what Quicksilver is for the majority of users.

I don't really completely grok QS to the point where I intuitively know how to go beyond the bounds of what I mostly use it for. It's easy enough to activate QS and type a filename. And I've learned a few other things like how to web-search... but even those 6 steps:

1) invoke QS with command-space 2) type 'Wiki' if I want to use Wikipedia 3) hit 4) hit again 5) type the term I want to search for 6) hit

are really just a shortcut that I've memorized, not something that's based on my intuitive grasp of QS syntax. For the novice user it would be far more intuitive to just invoke QS with the command-space and then type "wiki " and hit . The double-tab is a function of the way QS's language works, I understand, but it's hardly intuitive and took me a bit of documentation-searching before I figured it out.

Personally I think there's definitely room for some layer on TOP of QS (or a replacement for QS) that simplifies things down to the way that most people use it... as a set of basic shortcuts for common actions. Failing that, even just a webpage somewhere that gives the top 20-most-common useful shortcuts so I can just go pick the ones I want to memorize.

I can see how (for instance) adding a new bit of text to the beginning of a text file could be rather useful... but I've never memorized the 8 steps required to do such a thing and even if I do memorize them sometime today, if a week goes by without using those same steps I'll almost certainly forget them. Again, if I had some higher-level shortcut where I could set something up to just invoke QS and type a command and the text I want to add, it would be a hell of a lot easier to memorize. Remembering to:

  Hit “.” to start typing in the variable input field

and all the additional steps just isn't intuitive.

I'm sure the QS devotees are wanting to lecture me right now on how the syntax is so much more POWERFUL than what I want to do. Whatever. You can always make a more powerful language. I don't want to learn a language, I want a way to increase my productivity.

Couple all of this with the really convoluted configuration panels (don't get me started...) and I have to say that I really have mixed feelings about QS. Don't get me wrong, I use it constantly... but hardly consider it a good example of a well-designed framework for the average user.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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