I Love Quicksilver’s process manipulations

Why would I need this?

Playing with processes and applications as processes is more geekery than I need (and more than I’m familiar with). What I need most is to force quit non-responsive applications quickly (because I’m always forgetting that keyboard shortcut).

But for those of you who regularly use it, Quicksilver‘s Process Manipulations Plugin allows you to also:

  • Launch a copy of an application. (Be careful with this, as OS X likes for only one copy of an application to be running.)
  • Launch an application with root permissions. (Be careful with this, for obvious reasons.)
  • Sample a process for 5 seconds and return results.
  • List the open files of an application/process.
  • Get Process Identifier (PID).
  • Pause (SIGSTOP) or resume (SIGCONT) an application.
  • Send a signal to a process.
  • Raise, lower, minimize, maximize, get or set a process’ priority.

I’ll only be going into detail on a few of these actions. If you’re interested in learning more about the other actions, please read the Process Manipulation Plugin documentation. (In Quicksilver, go to Preferences > Plugins, select the plugin and click the bottom-right button with the question mark on it.)

How do I …

Force Quit An Application

To force quit a non-responsive application, activate Quicksilver. In the first pane below, we’ve typed the name of our application. Well, actually, we’ve typed ttt, which are some of the letters of contained by TextEdit. (Quicksilver can search for items even if you skip letters.)


After we have our application/process in the first pane, we can tab to our second pane and type the action we want performed. In this case, we want to use the Force Quit (Kill) action. (Again, we don’t have to type the whole name, nor do we have to start with the beginning of the name. In this case, we typed kill.)

From here, all we have to do is press enter.


Launch Multiple Copies of An Application

This is not supported by OS X, and you should use carefully, if at all. That said, the option is available. You can also do this in Terminal, but why type a whole command when a few keystrokes will result in the same thing?

Below, we’ve activated Quicksilver and typed in aai to put Safari in our first pane. (We could have easily typed saf or sari instead. As you use the same abbreviations over and over, Quicksilver will learn and search accordingly.)


Before you can launch a copy of an application, the application has to be already open. We are already running Safari. If we pressed enter now, Quicksilver would open Safari, bringing Safari to the front.

What we want is to launch a second instance of Safari. To do that, we’ll need the Launch A Copy action. Below, we’ve found it by typing acopy. When we press enter, another instance of Safari runs.


We can do this more than once, as the screenshot below of our Dock demonstrates. (Wonder how much chaos we’re causing in our Preferences folder running three Safari’s… When you do things like this, do you think of Tron?)


List Open Files

You don’t have to type in the name of the application or process directly into Quicksilver. You can access the running applications and processes through Quicksilver via the Activity Monitor. Below, we’ve got Activity Monitor in our first pane.


Pressing right arrow or / (slash) will display a list of the current applications and proccesses. Although there are five items showing, the list is long. You can scroll or type to search the results.


Below, we’ve chosen to list the open files for TextEdit, and our results are displayed.


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:

  • Process Manipulation Plugin

After installing the plugin, you may want to change some of your catalog settings. If you want to act on background processes as well, go to Preferences > Catalog > Applications and select Running Applications & Processes. Then click the bottom-right button with the i on it. The shelf will have three tabs. Select the Source Options tab and check Include background applications. (In the screenshot below, Applications (above Running Applications & Processes) is not checked. Your version of Quicksilver will probably have that checked, and you should probably keep it that way.)


The plugin documentation mentions being able to type Running Applications & Processes into Quicksilver to easily access running processes. You are only able to do that if you’ve enabled it in Quicksilver’s catalog. Go to Preferences > Catalog > Quicksilver and select Quicksilver Catalog Entries.

In the screenshot below, you can see that doing so results in a number of items (44 in this case) being added to Quicksilver‘s catalog. You may not want all of theese enabled. For example, you may want to only bring up your Applications folder when you type Applications or to only find the Finder when you type Finder. Having catalog items named Applications (Catalog) and Finder (Catalog) may be annoying. You can disable any items here you don’t want by unchecking them. (And disabling Applications (Catalog) here does not disable applications from showing in Quicksilver.)


Lastly, you may need to enable the actions you want to use. Go to Preferences > Actions to do so. To make it easier to find actions associated with the Process Manipulations Plugin, we’ve sorted by Plugin and chosen that plugin. (We’ve also resized the window.)


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.

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

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