I Love Quicksilver’s access to Services

Why would I need this?

You already use Services like Show Address in Google Maps, Add to Evernote, OmniFocus: Send to Inbox, and a lot of others. With Quicksilver, you can access and use them without having to use the menubar or contextual menus. And if you have a crowded Services menu, you can disable services but still access and use them within Quicksilver.

How do I …

There are so many ways to use Services. Let’s look at a simple one, like opening a folder in Terminal. Now, you could use open the Terminal and type in that long path to the directory, pressing tab to auto-complete as you go. And you can search for the folder in Spotlight, reveal the folder in Finder, then drag the folder icon into a Terminal window. But that’s a lot of work. Why not just use Quicksilver for a productive workflow?

If your Quicksilver looks different than the screenshots below, it’s because we’ve changed the colors of Quicksilver’s default Bezel interface via Preferences > Appearance.

Below, we’ve typed in stap to search within our folder hiercharchy. Unlike Spotlight, you (for the most part) tell Quicksilver where to search. It can find the Staples folder easily because we have added the Receipts folder and all items within its hierarchy to the catalog.

If we hadn’t, we could still easily navigate to the Staples folder by activating Quicksilver, typing ~ (tilde) to go to the home folder and navigating to the Documents folder using the down arrow key, listing the contents of the Documents folder using right arrow, and continuing navigating using those arrow keys. You’ll find using Quicksilver easier and quicker when you add folders and items you use often to Quicksilver’s catalog. (For more information, check out the Quicksilver Setup Mini Guide.)


Once we have our item in Quicksilver’s first pane, we can press tab to go to the second pane and select an action.

Below, we’ve typed terminal. New Terminal at Folder is the first action Quicksilver finds, but we can show all the matching actions by pressing down arrow or by waiting for a brief delay. (You can change this setting in Preferences > Command.)

Let’s look at those other actions. New Terminal Tab at Folder will give us our folder/directory in a new Terminal tab. Open Directory in Terminal does the same thing that New Terminal at Folder does: opens the selected folder as a directory in a new terminal window.

Why two actions for one command? Remember that Services adds actions to Quicksilver. In this case, we have installed the Terminal Plugin, which gives us the Open Directory in Terminal action. The New Terminal at Folder is available because of the Services Menu Plugin. We’ll explore this a little more in the `Why doesn’t it work on my Mac?` section.


When we press enter, Terminal opens to our selected folder.

(By the way, this service is not enabled in our Services Preferences. And yet, we can still use the service via Quicksilver.)


Let’s check out another example. Below, we’ve activated Quicksilver and entered text mode by pressing . (period). Entering text mode allows us to type and/or paste text into the pane. We’ve pasted an address, which we’re going to look up using Google Maps.

This address is nicely formatted, with a return or new line character in it, putting the city, state and zip code on the next line. We don’t have to use nicely formatted addresses. (Many times, we don’t even need complete addresses.)


Once our address is in the first pane, we can press tab to go to the second and choose our action. Below, we’ve typed gmaps to find our action. Quicksilver allows you to skip letters when searching, and we’ve skipped a bunch.

There is something a little weird here. It won’t affect our command, but it’s interesting to note that the text directly below the panes reads: Show Text as Large Type. Normally, that text reflects the command to be executed.


Pressing enter results in our address being shown in Google Maps in our default browser (Safari, in this example).

(This service is also not enabled in our Services Preferences. Once again, Quicksilver allows us to use it anyway.)


Why doesn’t it work on my Mac?

Note that in order to use these actions, you need to install the following plugins and you may need to change your Quicksilver preference settings:

  • Services Menu Plugin

After you install the plugin, you can enable, disable and re-rank the services added as actions. Below, we are in Preferences > Actions. We’ve sorted the actions by Plugin and selected the Services Menu Plugin to view all the actions available via that plugin (which are all the Services installed on your Mac). We’ve also resized the window and columns to make it easier to view everything.


To find all the services with terminal in the name, we’ve typed that into the search field. These actions are ranked 127-130.


Switching from the Services Menu Plugin to Terminal Plugin, we see the following actions. Note that these options are ranked lower (213-217) than the other actions. (Read more about re-ranking actions in the Actions preferences section of the Quicksilver Mini Guide.)

If we want only some of these actions enabled, we can simply uncheck the actions we don’t need.


Wow/Meh. What else ya got?

This is part of a series of some of the ways I love and use Quicksilver. If you’re new to Quicksilver, check out the Quicksilver Setup Mini Guide for tips on configuration.

18. November 2014 by sojourner hardeman
Categories: geekery, how do i love thee quicksilver | Leave a comment

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