Saturday, 21 April 2007

Keyboard Launchers Article

The wonderful thing about the Mac operating system is that developers are constantly updating ways to help improve the way it works. One popular method of improving the Mac operating system is through programs called launchers, that help launch applications and do various things in shorter ways than normal.

These launchers are either centered around the keyboard or the mouse. In this article I'll be focusing on two of the main keyboard programs. These are Quicksilver and Launchbar. Both extremely similar in function there has been a lot of argument over which is better. (Just Google it and you'll see) Both open up through a keyboard hot-key (default ctrl - space) where a series of key strokes can be pressed. Once these have been put into the program, a number of items will appear (usually an application) upon which the user can hit enter and have that application open. But almost any file can be altered using this method such as documents, contacts or bookmarks.

Sounds simple and it is. If all you want to do is open applications, then you could pretty much use either program with ease and enjoy it. Although I should probably point out that LaunchBar is shareware and Quicksilver Freeware, making Quicksilver the preferred option if you're on a budget. Where the two programs start to separate and fight it out is in the smaller details.

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I'll admit straight away that I haven't use LaunchBar much. I'm a die hard Quicksilver fan. I've used it ever since I got my Macbook and have used it ever since. I only used LaunchBar when I decided I'd give something else a try, so I got the LaunchBar trial. When I started playing around with it, I didn't really like it. It "seemed" to be slower, and I'll emphasise seemed. It took up too much space on the desktop and the commands seemed to be easier to execute in Quicksilver. Pretty much everything that can be done in LaunchBar can be done in Quicksilver, and in most cases better.


Quicksilver has a large variety of different plug-ins for different programs and you can designate what to do with files just with you keyboard and a few commands. Want to move a file to a different folder? Easy. Just press ctrl - space, type in a few characters of the file, press tab and type move to, then choose your folder. Pretty simple and that's where the power of Quicksilver lies. I believe LaunchBar can also do this, but it's just the different things that Quicksilver can do with different programs (ala plug-ins) that makes it stand out. Plus it's free, so there's really no reason not to give it a try.
LaunchBar is available from obdev from and Quicksilver from BlackTree

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Alexandre said...

Quicksilver is awesome. Not only as a launcher but as the keyboard equivalent for all of these widgets.
If only I could still be on Mac OS X. QuickSilver, Exposé, OmniOutliner, Services, Spotlight... Life was good, on Mac OS X!

Anonymous said...

A Charlie Brown Christmas cd playing, a holly wreath scented candle lit, and browsing Christmas decorating ideas... #soready #Imthatperson

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