Keyboard Shortcuts, Or Nirvana Is Getting Crowded

by Aug 27, 2008Uncategorized4 comments

I love keyboard shortcuts. When I was a child, I eschewed DOS in favor of the wonders of GUI! I thought: why type on the keyboard when you can click with a mouse! But—as the green lady in C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra would say—”I am older now,” so I use the keyboard for as much as possible. My skills even came in handy in a life-or-death situation when I forgot to bring a mouse to hook up to my iMac to run my wedding photo slideshow at our reception!

But keyboard shortcuts only go so far because they can usually do only one thing. For that reason, there are command line interfaces. BibleWorks was probably my first great command line love. But Quicksilver has now come into my life, and other utilities are vying for my key depressions.

For example, yesterday (read: three months ago in Internet time), Mozilla released Ubiquity, a command line utility for Firefox.


My verdict? I don’t like it. But I’m intrigued by one of its key features: it automatically pulls live Internet content into your launch window while you type. That has real potential. I’m watching, I’m watching…

Why Don’t You Like It, marklwardjr?

Why don’t I like it? It’s too verbose. I have to type too much to do what I’ve already been doing with Firefox’s keyword search (watch for a future post on that).

What Do You Use, marklwardjr?

I use Quicksilver for launching almost everything, for moving files, and even for quick e-mails.

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I also use Spark, because it can record macros and it’s always in the background. I use it to Pause/Play iTunes while another program is running, to output my e-mail signature, even to input my username, a tab, my password, and enter so I can quickly get past a login screen.

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What Do You Not Use, marklwardjr?

I don’t use Google Desktop Search. I did on my old Dell, but the indexing was taking up noticeable processing power. Spotlight does just fine or better, and it’s more integrated. I thought I might miss having cached versions of documents. That saved me a time or two on my Dell. But I haven’t needed that. I haven’t even really needed Time Machine, for that matter—though I use it just in case.


What Would You Use if You Had a Windows Machine?

Well, I do run Windows, but only for Bible software and word processing. But if Windows were still my main OS, I’d use Launchy:


I’d also use Enso, though it, too, is more verbose than I care for a launcher to be:


Stay tuned for an exciting list of keyboard shortcuts for Firefox. If you’ll patiently try what I suggest in that post, you’ll amaze your friends and family and, if you’re single, be married to the girl of your dreams very soon. Hey, it worked for me.

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  1. Jeremiah

    marklwardjr, how do you move files using Quicksilver? I use it for basic program launching, but not really anything else.

    Ok, nm. Just clicked around a little. Never even tried changing the action.

  2. Duncan

    One thing… don’t pass judgment too quickly on Ubiquity. Remember that what you saw yesterday was either the 0.1 version or the oddly-named 0.2pre release. Ubiquity is a live open-source project.

    I also like Ubiquity because it’s open and easy to extend… I threw together a cool new command for one of my favorite Web 2.0 tools yesterday with only a little bit of work. It’s still clunky of course, but someday I might actually publish it for anyone in the world who wants it. I don’t know if you can extend the other launcher apps quite so easily.

  3. Duncan

    Actually, never mind polish… one of the other cool things is that once you subscribe to a “command feed” you never have to do anything to get upgraded versions from the author, so I might as well publish it anyway even with rough edges.

    Here it is. If you don’t use, it probably won’t interest you anyway.