Oct 11, 2008

a command line for the gui

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I've been experimenting with Mac OS X now for a few months. Trying to work out if it is a reasonable platform for Verilab to use internally for our various computing needs. One thing that I've come to love and now struggle to live without is a small add-on called Quicksilver. Superficially it isn't very interesting. A fast application launcher - where's the fun in that? But after you delve a bit deeper, it becomes something else. It is really a command line interface for OS X, on top of the GUI.

I hit a key and up it pops. Type a few characters and I can launch an application. I don't have to search through drop down menus or find icons on a desktop - much faster. I want to get a music player to jump to the next track - hot key and type 'next'. Stop the music, type 'stop'. The magic is that I don't have to switch away from what I'm currently doing, go to a different window or application and do anything. Want to email someone? Hot key, type a bit of their name and select their email address - again, without switching away from what you are working in. I can even open and edit text files without starting up a text editor - extend a todo list, add a calendar entry to my google calendar, all from the command line within the GUI. All without switching away from the current context. I can run unix terminal commands, search in documents, select groups of files and email them to someone, do quick calculations. It is amazingly more efficient than using a mouse and hunting for applications and buttons.

I've always been a bit of a command-line junkie, wanting to know the keyboard shortcuts for things in a GUI environment, liking having a command prompt, but Quicksilver is different. It's a visual blend of command-line and GUI. Taking the best bits of both and putting them right under my fingertips. Highly recommended. Shame there isn't anything nearly as good for Windows XP or linux that I've found. Look here for more ideas about what Quicksilver can do.


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