43 Folders

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

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

Spotlight on Spotlight

The good man in brown just delivered my family pack of Leopard, and I'm itchin' to go a upgradin' all through the house. I'm particularly anxious to try the new To-Do features in Mail and iCal, the two apps besides a browser that I spend most of my time in each day.

One thing that especially intrigues me, though, is the reported performance improvement in Spotlight. Like many of 43 Folders' Mac users, I'd long given up on Spotlight in favor of Quicksilver. But on their latest Talk Show episode, John Gruber and Dan Benjamin raved about Spotlight's improvement, to the point that Dan (I think) said he hasn't reinstalled Quicksilver on Leopard yet.

Now I'm assuming this means he uses Quicksilver mainly as a launcher like I do. I've watched Merlin's demo videos and I've read about all the mind-bending things Quicksilver can do, but I've just never gotten past doing much else with it besides using keyboard triggers to launch applications and open documents. The setup and re-training of my brain feels like too much work to me.

Apparently there's a reason for this too. Again, Gruber points out a piece by Bruce Tognazzini, founder of the Apple Human Interface Group, in which he says that while users and developers commonly believe keyboarding is faster, testing consistently shows that mousing is faster. Remembering keyboard shortcuts is an advanced cognitive function that actually takes a few seconds to work out, whereas mousing counts on visual cues.

I'm going to leave Quicksilver in place when I upgrade this weekend, because I'm curious to see how it compares with the new Spotlight as a launcher. Sometimes I wonder how much easier it might be just to type "itu" to open iTunes rather than trying to remember whether I mapped "Ctrl-I" to that or iPhoto. And I'm going to keep the icons of my favorite apps in the Dock instead of launching them solely through triggers or Spotlight, based on the Tog article, to see if it feels any different than keying alone. I suspect that once I get used to it, I'll probably still go with a combination of both.

What's your experience with the new Spotlight so far? Could you live without Quicksilver now?

About wood.tang

wood.tang's picture


Matt Wood is a writer, former IT drone, sometime realtor, and full-time stay-at-home dad. He and his family live in Chicago.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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