You may know Quicksilver as the universal command interface, data manipulation tool, and application launcher that you invoke from anywhere to do your wicked and powerful bidding. Although you can cut down on a lot of keystrokes and work using Quicksilver through its main interface, you can cut down repetitive Quicksilver actions even further by assigning triggers to common tasks. From installing applications and controlling iTunes to creating quick timers or opening common folders, the often unexplored Quicksilver triggers are a bullet train to productivity.Before we get started, if you’re up to speed on Quicksilver but not necessarily up to speed on triggers, check out this brief explanation on how to create triggers in Quicksilver. Also, in order to create several of the triggers below, you’ll need to have enabled Quicksilver proxies.
Install an application
“Installing” an application on your Mac is generally a very simple process. After you mount a disk image, you just drag the application to your Applications folder. However, the mounted folders sometimes differ—sometimes you get a shortcut to drag the application directly into the Applications folder, sometimes not, and sometimes you don’t know for sure which Applications folder it’s pointing toward (your system folder or user folder).
To avoid this whole thing, I’ve created a trigger that automatically moves the current selection in Finder to the Applications folder and assigned Cmd-Opt-Ctrl-I as the keyboard shortcut.
After you install the iTunes plug-in, you get several simple AppleScripts that can play, pause, skip and rate songs. You can also adjust the iTunes volume with these scripts. But invoking Quicksilver and then typing “Next Song” isn’t much quicker than opening up iTunes and clicking the appropriate button.
Triggers to the rescue! I’ve assigned Cmd-Opt-Ctrl-left arrow to skip tracks, Cmd-Opt-Ctrl-right to move to the previous track, Cmd-Opt-Ctrl-up and -down to adjust the iTunes volume, and Cmd-Opt-Ctrl-space to toggle play and pause.
Adjust system volume/mute
Yes, most Macs have keyboard shortcuts for managing the system volume already built in, but if you’re running of a different keyboard or controlling your Mac via Windows using Synergy, you may not have access to these keyboard shortcuts. Instead, I put together these small AppleScripts and then assigned them triggers. Just put the scripts in a folder where Quicksilver can find them and build the trigger like you see in the screenshot and assign it whatever shortcut you like.
Access any item in an any application menu
This is by far one of my favorite time-saving triggers. Using Quicksilver application proxies, you can access any action inside a the current application’s menu bar. That means that instead of hunting around an application’s menu for an action that you know exists, you can just invoke this trigger and start typing the action you’re looking for. For more details, check out the video demonstration.
Create a new file
We’ve already shown you how to mimic Windows’ “Create New File” dialog with Quicksilver, so now all you’re doing is assigning a trigger to this action. For example, I’ve assigned the “Make New Text File” action to Cmd-Opt-Ctrl-M. To use it, just invoke the command inside any Finder window. Just use the Current Selection proxy object in the first pane, Make New… in the second, and then the document type in the third.
I try to keep track of my time a lot when I work, and Quicksilver offers me with a very simple way to start a pre-defined timer with a simple shortcut. To set up a timer trigger, type the text you’d like to alert you when the timer is up, then type Large Type (you can also use Speak Text if you prefer an audio alert or any action you prefer), then hit Ctrl-Enter. This will collapse the current command into the top pane like you see in the screenshot. Now just change the action to Run After Delay, then type the length of the delay (e.g., 1m = 1 minute) and save the trigger. You could set up timers for 1-10 minutes assigned to Cmd-Opt-Ctrl-1 through 0 or whatever works for you (you get the idea).
Open common folders
This one’s fairly obvious, but it bears highlighting because it is very handy. If you’ve got a folder you use a lot—like your download folder, for example—giving it a quick access trigger with Quicksilver can save you a lot of time. Just put the folder in the top pane and Open in the action pane, assign it a shortcut, and you should be ready to go.
Sleep your display, restart, shutdown
I use one-use apps Dockables to assign keyboard shortcuts for sleeping my display, since a lot of times when I leave my MacBook Pro I want to turn off the display to save power but I don’t want to close the lid. Likewise, you could use any of the other Dockables applications to do things like log off, shut down, or restart your computer. There’s also a Quicksilver plug-in called Extra Scripts that contains a lot of these actions.
If you’ve installed the Extra Scripts plug-in, you can quickly empty your trash with a keyboard shortcut. I’ve assigned Cmd-Opt-Ctrl-T to empty the trash on my Mac. It’s simple, and really not that much quicker than using your mouse, but I still like it.
Assign a shortcut for any action in any application
After getting a look at the power of the menu bar items, you’re probably wondering, “Can I assign global shortcuts to any action in any application?”—at least that’s what I wondered as soon as I learned of the menu bar items. The answer is yes, but with limitations. Here’s an example:
With Firefox running, add a new trigger to Quicksilver. Firefox in the first pane, Menu Bar Items in the second pane, and then tab to the third and type “open location.” Save that trigger action and assign a shortcut trigger, like Cmd-Opt-Ctrl-L. Now whenever you hit this trigger, no matter what application you’re using, Firefox will activate and your cursor will move to the address bar.
I was initially very excited at the prospects this presented. Unfortunately, these sorts of proxy triggers only work for the lifetime of the application, i.e., if you ever quit the application, it won’t work when you restart it. Even so, if you’re going to do some heavy work in an application, setting up a trigger just for that session could still be a real time saver. This would make 10, but I don’t consider it quite workable enough to officially make the list.
Now that you’ve seen my favorite triggers, share yours with the rest of us in the comments.