43 Folders

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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.


These are posts about Quicksilver, which is a Mac OS X application launcher that also lets you build “functional sentences” on your Mac. Consider starting with an intro video.

Intermediate Quicksilver tutorial

Dan Dickinson posts a great, intermediate Quicksilver tutorial; how are you using Quicksilver?

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Entourage & txt: In which the farmer and the cowman become friends

I love that Entourage lets you link  files to any item (task, contact, appointment, etc.). I use this feature all the time to point to text files on my Mac.

Why bother? Why not just use the built-in notes capability of Entourage? Ah, if you were a fan of text files you wouldn’t need to ask that, and if you were a fan of Quicksilver, the gears would already be clicking.

Among many features—as we all know by now—Quicksilver lets you append or prepend to any arbitrary text file without changing out of your current app. Once learned and ingrained, this will become one of your favorite things to do on the Mac, bar none; but Entourage doesn't currently support it. Still, this tip helps you get around it in a satisfying way—letting Entourage handle all the busy work, while your beloved text files do all the heavy lifting.

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More cool searches for Sogudi & Quicksilver

More of the neato little search shortcuts I like to use. Includes UPS/RSS

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Quicksilver: Arrow Into Web Pages

Another cool trick with the mighty right arrow.

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I Want a Pony: Snapshots of a Dream Productivity App

There’s an early episode of The Simpsons where Homer learns he has a long-lost half-brother named Herb who’s a major automobile mogul. Out of love for his newfound family, Herb lets Homer design and build his ultimate car. The result is a piece of pure American id, in which Homer’s most extravagant obsessions combine to create an unmanufacturable $82,000 boondoggle—complete with bubble windows and a place to put a really, really big fountain drink.

In that pioneering national spirit of favoring geegaws and fantastic chimeras over practicality, here are a few completely random ideas about a notional productivity application I’d like to see someday (as well as few bitches about the lame state of the ones we have now).

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Quicksilver: Setup & Troubleshooting

[n.b.: this post has been updated to reflect the release of version B32r2. --2004-11-06 15:35 PST]

Since there's new folks moving to Quicksilver all the time, I thought I'd post some more starter tips if you're following along here. If you have questions about stuff not working as described, doublecheck your setup and the tips below.

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Quicksilver: Me & My Arrow

O, Quicksilver, that little minx. The way she hides her functionality in coquettish little corners vexes and delights me. Did you know, for example, friends, how much you can do with Quicksilver and your modest arrow keys? Me neither. Til now.

So, quick review: once invoked, Quicksilver primarily uses the arrow keys to let you navigate through hierarchies and sets of matches. Up and down arrows let you surf sibling contents of a given directory or catalog, while the left and right arrows allow you to drill down and back up out of hierarchical levels, such as nested folders and the like. (Related tip: you can also surf up and down most any hierarchy using / and Shift-/)

All easy enough, right? But did you ever try clicking the right arrow key with an application selected? Well, you should.

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Routing searches through Dowser

Fans of Sogudi or Quicksilver can re-route their automated searches through the neato Dowser script/app.

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Quicksilver B30 introduces triggers and content searching

New features continue to move app beyond its modest roots.

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43F Interview: Alcor, Developer of Quicksilver

Our first 43 Folders interview is with Alcor, the developer behind our favorite productivity app, the mighty Quicksilver.

Vox43 Folders: What initially made you want to build Quicksilver? Has your interest or focus changed since you started, and how?

Alcor: Quicksilver started out as a module based applescript for OS 9 using a healthy dose of AKUA Sweets. It basically supported drag and drop and performing of some basic actions and scripts on the dropped items or the finder selection. It launched stuff too, but was an unwieldy dialog of applications you had to sift through. The initial point of it was to speed up day to day tasks like emailing and file manipulation. It sometimes took longer to do stuff using it than by hand, but was mostly a fun toy. The idea behind it was sound, and that is what made it through to the OS X incarnation. The focus has not changed since the beginning, but the implementation has become far more flexible (though perhaps less reliable.)

43 Folders: Were there particular things that weren’t happening with the other launchers that made you want to take a crack at it?

Alcor: The main thing that OS X seemed lacking was OS 9’s ability to drill down into folders with astounding speed by typing portions of the names of each folder and opening them. 9 let you navigate a well organized hierarchy of directories almost completely blind just using keys. The column view in X was nice, but wasn’t nearly as snappy. Dealing with files X was just a lot less fun. LB was a huge help for a while, but back then still didn’t allow sub searching within directory contents and still required the mouse to move files about. In the hopes of bringing back the quick file system drilling and manipulation, Quicksilver was given a Cocoa transfusion and came sputtering back to life.

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