Quicksilver Setup Mini-Guide


This isn’t going to be an in-depth review of all of Quicksilver‘s preferences. I’m going to touch on some of the more important ones and let you explore the rest.

Please note that I’m using Quicksilver version 1.1.3 on Lion 10.7.x. If you’re using a different version and/or a different OS and have questions, please add them in the comments.

After you’ve set up Quicksilver, check the How Do I Love Thee, Quicksilver index for mini-tutorials of some of the useful things Quicksilver does.

So! Ready? I’m so excited…


On the left of the Preferences pane of the Preferences window are two sections. In the screenshot below, you’ll see Application, Command, Appearance, Actions, Extras, and Handlers in the first section. The second section below is empty in our screenshot. As you install plugins, items will be added there.

Preferences - Application

Application preferences

I would recommend enabling Start at login and Check for updates. I’ll skip the other options, as they’re self-explanatory.

Command preferences

The main item of interest here is the hotkey activation, which you can customize. (I noticed using the default control-space hotkey didn’t work well on the target machine when screen sharing. On those machines, I enabled Modifier-only activation.)

I use the defaults for everything else, but you may want to explore here to find what works best for your workflow.

Preferences - Command

Appearance preferences

Ah. Eye Candy. What interfaces you select here is determined by which interface plugins you’ve installed (see Quicksilver > Preferences > Plugins).

You can change the colors of the selected interface, and preview the changes. (I find myself resetting the interfaces using the Defaults button … a lot.)

Preferences - Appearance

Actions preferences

This is a place to check when Quicksilver isn’t behaving as expected. Sometimes, the action you want to use hasn’t been enabled yet. You can search for specific actions using the search box, or you can search by function using the types outlined on the left, or both.

You can also set the rank of an action. If, for example, you give Quicksilver a URL to process and the first action listed is Open URL, and you want Open URL in Background to be the first action listed, drag the actions up or down to change their rank.

Preferences - Actions

Extras preferences

I leave these at their default values, but you may want to look over these and set them as needed.

Preferences - Extras

Handlers preferences

Plugins (like the the Command Line Interface plugin) may add additional handlers. You might want to change the Notification handler (I prefer Growl to Quicksilver). If you have a file system browser like Pathfinder, you have the option of using it instead of Finder.

Preferences - Handlers


Think of triggers as hotkeys you create to perform predefined and customized tasks. One important predefined trigger is Select Current Selection in command window. This allows you to press command-escape (or another hotkey you choose) to pipe whatever you have selected (text, files, urls, etc) into Quicksilver.



I won’t go through all the catalog options. Most of the defaults here are suffiicient, but take time to review them so you know what’s available.

Quicksilver and Spotlight are similar, there is a major difference. Spotlight indexes — for the most part — your entire drive. Quicksilver scans — for the most part — what you tell it to scan. Keep in mind, as you add folders and items to your catalog, that an overly bloated catalog can slow Quicksilver down. Remove items as needed to make Quicksilver faster.

We’ll talk about how to fine-tune catalog selections a little later.

Applications catalog

In this section, Applications and Running Applications & Processes are enabled. Find All Applications is not. You probably won’t require the granularity of Find All Applications, which locates applications throughout your drive, including your /Library and /System/Library folders and /usr/ folders. In other words, it goes deep.

Plugins catalog

When you first install Quicksilver, this section will be pretty sparse. As you install plugins, more items will be automatically be added here.

Quicksilver catalog

In this section, Internal Commands and Internal Objects may be disabled when you first install Quicksilver. You may find it helpful to enable them.

Scripts catalog

If you use a lot of scripts, you’ll see this section grow. Adding scripts to the catalog means you can run AppleScripts directly from Quicksilver, without having to open AppleScript Editor.

System catalog

This mostly consists of preference panes (user and system), as well as devices like printers.

User catalog

Some of the user folders (like the home folder, downloads and documents) are here. Also recent items, Dock items, and favorite servers.

Custom catalog

Let’s spend a little time here. When you first install Quicksilver, your custom catalog section will look pretty bare. At the bottom of the window, there is a drop-down menu labeled with a + and dropdown icon on it.

Catalog - Custom Empty Window

Clicking that will reveal the following menu. It’s the first menu item, File & Folder Scanner, which we’ll use to add files and folders to our catalog. (I’ve never used the other choices in the menu. If anyone has, feel free to comment below.)

Catalog - Custom - Add Source Menu

Here’s where we’ll talk about how to fine-tune your catalog. In the screenshot below, we’ve added a Pictures folder. There is a shelf on the right of our window. Clicking the Show Info button (bottom right) reveals and hides this window.

Catalog - Custom - Source Options

At the top of our shelf is the path to our folder. Below that is the pop-up menu Include Contents. When you first add items, it will be set to None, meaning that just the folder’s name will be added to Quicksilver’s catalog. We’ve changed the setting to Folder Contents. Below that, we’ve set the depth to 2, which means that Quicksilver will catalog all items two levels down. Sliding the depth all the way down to the google symbol means Quicksilver will catalog all items in the folder, all the way down.

I’ve defined which types of files Quicksilver should catalog, and which to exclude.

But wait! There’s more!

Catalog - Custom - Contents

At the bottom of the shelf, we can click on Contents, which lists every item in our definition. We can uncheck any of these to exclude them.

You may not use these often, but it’s nice to have the option.

Finally, you can delete items from the catalog by selecting the item and then clicking the minus button (next to the plus drop-down menu at the bottom of the window).


One of the first things you want to is to install plugins. I suggest installing plugins you need, as well as plugins you think you might need later. You can always disable plugins you aren’t using, but you may not always be online to download a plugin when you need it.

I won’t talk about the plugins in-depth, but let’s look at some of the basic things you should know. Below is a screenshot of Quicksilver’s Plugins preferences (accessible via the menubar Qucksilver -> Preferences or by pressing command-“). At the bottom of the window, there is a

  • gear icon. You can use this for a number of things, including refreshing your plugin list.
  • search box. This comes in handy for things like finding all of Quicksilver’s interfaces. Type interface in the search field and add some variation to the standard Quicksilver window.
  • plugin information button. This is like an ‘about’ windows for the plugin.
  • plugin help button. This will give you more information about what the plugin does, how it functions, and any configuration/setup needed.


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

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