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Searching the web with Quicksilver

I’ve had a lot of tweets about this recently, so here’s an explanatory* guide. All the Preferences gobbledegook is in the videos.

Want this?

Then do this:

First up, install the ‘Web Search Module’ in Preferences>Plug-ins.

Then, go to Preferences>Catalog>Modules, check the ‘Web Searches (from’ entry and rescan (click the circular arrow at the bottom). A relaunch might be needed for this to appear. I personally don’t use this, but there’s a lot of useful searches that can be added to a custom list, which I’ll explain shortly.

Next, check that the ‘Find With…” and ‘Search For…’ Actions are available in Preferences>Preferences>Actions. (That’s not a typo, there’s a Prefs in the Prefs.)

Moving on, make sure the aforementioned Web Searches Catalog entry is checked in Preferences>Catalog>Quicksilver>Quicksilver Catalog Entries. (Click the ‘i’ button at the bottom.) Within the usual QS interface, search for Web Searches in pane 1, and → into it to see all the searches grouped together.

Select one (iMDb for the sake of ease). This URL should be seen at the bottom of the interface (certainly in Bezel):*** . Press tab, bring up ‘Search For…’, tab again, and type in a search. ‘Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son’ should be up in your default browser in next to no time (memory and taste permitting).

Note the *** text in the iMDb URL. This is crucial; any URL containing *** will be interpreted as a search URL by Quicksilver.

Mindbender***.com will be viewed as a search URL by QS. (It won’t return any search results, although you could try ‘s’. I take no responsibility for anything else that’s stumbled upon.) Quicksilver replaces the 3 asterisks with the search text and tries to open the URL. A space in the search text will be replaced with ‘+’. Food and drink for search sites.

There’s 500+ search URLs in the Web Search Catalog entry. There are a lot of useful ones, but some are out of date, as the list hasn’t been updated for several years. It’s also a lot of baggage to be carrying around in the Catalog if only 20-30 are going to be used regularly.

This is where the ‘Web Search List’ comes in. Click the ‘+’ icon at the bottom of Preferences>Catalog and select ‘Web Search List’. Click on the new entry in the window list and press ‘i’. In the drawer, select Contents and click ‘+’. Add the name of your search on the left, and the search url in the centre. Press enter and hit the rescan button. Search for the, er… search in pane 1 and Search For… should become immediately available in pane 2. If it isn’t, drag it up the chart in Peferences>Preferences>Actions.

Want to cull favourites from the 500+ web search herd? Double click on an entry from the Web Searches (from Catalog entry, and it’ll appear in pane 1 of QS. Paste it into a new entry in the Web Search List and there’s the start of a custom search list. But no need to stop there. Go to almost any search site on the web and search for ‘***’. Copy the resulting URL and add it to the list.

So typing imdb, tab, sf, tab, [text], enter is pretty convenient, right? How about cutting out 7 of those keystrokes by assigning the search to a keyboard shortcut? Go to Preferences>Triggers, click the ‘+’ and select ‘HotKey’. Type in the command as in the normal interface, and click save. Double-click the Trigger column to the right of the newly created Trigger name. Enter a keyboard combination in the ‘Hot Key:’ field. I find ⌘⇧[letter] is a combo unlikely to clash with other apps. Close the Preferences window and try out the Trigger: ⌘⇧I,[text],enter. Two keystroke combos, excluding the search text.

There’s more: if another site is searched directly after the first, the same search text will be waiting in pane 3. Have text in Pane 1 that needs to be searched for? Bring up ‘Find With…’ in pane 2, the search URL in pane 3, and press enter. Search multiple sites at the same time using the comma trick in pane 1.

And why stop at search sites? Save*** as a search URL, and type the page names into pane 3 to quickly jump to a known wiki page:

Put web pages through Google Translate using*** in pane 1, and a URL in pane 3.

Search sites with Google using qss-***&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 in pane 1, and a url followed by a space and search text in pane 3:

I’m sure there’s other uses out there.

Here’s some of my favourite search URLs:***



There are some quirks. In the videos I can be seen clicking off and on rows and buttons in Preferences to get the Catalog entries to show properly. When creating Triggers, it’s necessary to ⌘X in pane 3, tab round to pane 3 again and ⌘X once more to have it available for text entry. Trigger creation is still flaky; the Web Search URLs need to be in the Catalog to make it more likely that the Triggers stick (the Web Search List will suffice). And check out the upside down icons in the videos…

There’s more I haven’t covered. Check out Howard Melman’s excellent manual (p90), which is far more thorough than this post, and contains wonders such as utilising the Current Selection Proxy Object.

Had your mind bended enough? (And I’m not talking about that website.) Once the pieces are in place, you’ll have the power of the web at your fingertips - without even looking for your browser.


*It’s not explanatory? Alright, c’mon! You and me, in the comments, now!
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  1. juckchin reblogged this from lovequicksilver
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  3. lovequicksilver posted this

This search box is rubbish. Click here to search from Quicksilver instead.