43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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

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.

  • Right-arrow into Safari for fast access to your bookmark sets and history
  • Right-arrow into iPhoto to jump to any of your photo albums
  • Right-arrow into any app (try TextEdit.app) to view recently opened documents
  • HOTT! Right-arrow into iTunes for access to all of your playlists, plus the ability to browse your music by Artist, Album, Genre, Composer and more. How cool is that?


Try these, now:

  • Option-right-arrow into any Cocoa application, most Carbon applications, or any OS X Service to view the folder-like contents of the app (this is similar to using “Show Package Contents” in the Finder)
  • Right-arrow into any plaintext document to see each line of the document as a separate line selection (quick way to glance at your TODO.txt list)


This is also probably as good a point as any to remind you about the magic of “Search Contents.” As far as I know, anything that you can right-arrow into can also be searched, right in Quicksilver. So try this:

  1. Invoke Quicksilver
    • Control-Spacebar, by default
  2. Type the letters of the word “iTunes” until it appears in the left pane
  3. Right-arrow into iTunes
    • this might take a few seconds if you have a large collection
  4. Arrow-down to select Browse Tracks
  5. TAB to the second pane, and type the letters SEARCH until “Search Contents” appears
  6. Hit RETURN
    • The left pane should now have a magnifying glass and say “Type to Search”
  7. Type a few letters from the name of your favorite song
  8. Arrow down to find the track you want
  9. Hit RETURN to play

On those last couple steps, you also can surf up and down the selections over in the right pane; this is a super-easy way to add a track to a Party Shuffle from anyplace.


Edit: As ever, make sure you’ve loaded up on Quicksilver plugins to take advantage of these and other cool tricks. The Quicksilver app provides a minimum of core functionalities and uses all the neato plugins to let you do stuff with different applications.

About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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