There are those in the Mac community who speak of an app that let you work so quickly and do so much using only your keyboard that, well… a Mac just wasn’t a Mac without it. We haven’t really seen it ‘round these parts in nearly half a decade, but thanks to a handful of new developers, the legend known as Quicksilver might ride again.
Quicksilver is a keyboard productivity utility in the vein of LaunchBar and Alfred. With a few keystrokes you can address, draft, and send an e-mail; change your desktop wallpaper; move files to the trash; and append notes to Yojimbo or a text file—all without touching (or in many cases even opening) the relevant apps. For years, Quicksilver’s rich plugin support, seemingly infinite flexibility, and free price tag made it irresistible to anyone who wanted to get more done in less time.
But Quicksilver largely rode off into the sunset in 2007 when its primary developer, Nicholas Jitkoff, open-sourced the project after he took a job with Google working on the less feature-full—and so far less popular—Google Quick Search Box. In a post-hire interview with Lifehacker, Jitkoff even suggested Quicksilver fans turn to more actively developed and supported alternatives like LaunchBar.
Though a couple of community-driven betas surfaced over the years, helping Quicksilver limp into compatibility with new versions of Mac OS X, a new team of developers has now picked up the reins, aiming to unify the disparate open-source branches and return the app to its former glory. In a recent release, the team has already dusted off support for automatic updates, fixed a handful of basic file-management features, and reenabled Proxy Objects, one of the key components that allows Quicksilver to work much of its interactive magic with other apps.
Quicksilver’s apparent revival should be good news for its loyal fan base and anyone looking to get more out of their Mac. However, it’s still a free open-source project run by developers with day jobs and college classes, which means there is no guarantee that they won’t get too busy with more important obligations or get hired away like Jitkoff. That said, if you’ve ever been curious about one of the Mac’s most well known power-user utilities, now may be a good time to give Quicksilver a try.