How to use Quicksilver

Quicksilver is the first app I install on any Macintosh.

With Quicksilver you press the Apple key once and a window appears on top of everything else. From this window you can pretty much do anything:  launch an app, find a file, find a contact, email someone, you name it.  Here’s how to get it going…

1. Download  Quicksilver from here:

2. Run though all the setup screens to set it up, notice that the ‘hotkey setup’ defaults to Apple-Space. I like to change this to just Apple, but you do this a little later in the setup process.

3. Press Apple Space to launch Quicksilver, and click on the little triangle in the top right corner and select ‘Preferences’

In the quicksilver window select ‘Preferences’


4. In the ‘Command’ tab select the box that says Modifier-only Activation. (Se Below) This was my personal suggestion and they implemented it. It’s not enable by default as it goes against Apple’s guidelines for the use of Modifier keys, but what it does is that if you just press the apple key briefly, it launches Quicksilver.

Turn on Modifier-only Activation

5. Quicksilver is now up and running.

Let’s try it. Press and release Apple key: The Quicksilver window appears. From there you can do all sorts of things:

  • Type ‘m’. press return. Apple mail opens.
  • Type ‘ph’ return and iPhoto opens.
  • type ‘calc’ return and calculator opens.
  • Type ‘documents’ and your documents folder opens, press right cursor then up/down to scroll through it. Press return to select a folder or document to open.
  • Type the name of a song or playlist, scroll through the playlist, or press return to play the song.
  • Type in the name of a document to open the document. You don’t’ need to know where  the document is.
  • From the ‘save dialog’ of any application you can press apple, invoke quicksilver, find a folder, then drag the folder from quicksilver to the save dialog to save there!
  • Quicksilver learns from your typing, so instead of typing ‘mail’ just type ‘m’ and scroll down to ‘mail’ and open mail. The next time you type ‘m’ it will open mail.
  • Type the first few letters of a name name, and the address book entry appears. press ‘tab’ to go to the next pane, then type ‘compose’ or ’email’ return to open an email to that person.

The list goes on and the more you use it the more surprises you will find.

There are plugins that you can access from Quicksilver preferences to give even more options to quicksilver,  e.g. address book, iTunes, mail, calculator.

You can customise the catalog in Quicksilver Preferences to include more or less of your files and folders.

There are forums everywhere on people’s favourite ways to use quicksilver, here’s a good one:




My advice is give it a full week trial before you delete it – it takes you a while to get addicted to it. You’ll never go back!


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