May 26, 2007

Access Any Menu Item in Your Application with a Keystroke Using Quicksilver Proxy Objects

Being attentive to how you work, when you're doing the Lord's work, is just plain good stewardship.

I have become a big fan of Quicksilver, the Mac utility that puts an endless amount of productivity at your fingertips. Here's a great tip for accessing menu items in an application: Comprehensive and feature-complete applications have lots of menu item options--too many to remember the assigned keyboard shortcuts for those that even have one. Enter Quicksilver. Here's how to gain access to every menu item with a simple keystroke. For adding some great features to Quicksilver, you must enable "Proxy Objects" in the Quicksilver section of the Catalog. Invoke Quicksilver and press Command semi-colon (⌘;) to bring up the Catalog preference pane. Check "Proxy Objects". When you've done this, Quicksilver now has access to the "Current Application" item. Now you can invoke Quicksilver, start typing "Current Appl..." and it will find this action... then tab to the next pane and start typing "Show Menu Items". (Make sure you have that action and not the "Show menu" action.) When you invoke, you'll get a new Quicksilver window with an exhaustive list of every menu items in your current application. A couple keystrokes later and you have your menu item. The real bonus of this method is you don't memorize keyboard shortcuts. If I want to set the text to blue, I just type "bl..." and hit return. One obscure keyboard combination is not quicker than a few keystrokes, because typing familiar words takes less time. The final step to putting all of this into muscle memory is to assign a keystroke to the "Show Menu Items" action. Simply invoke Quicksilver again, get to "Current Application", tab and then "Show Menu Items", but instead of hitting return, press Command apostrophe (⌘') to bring up the Trigger pane of Quicksilver preferences. Press the little "+" sign at the bottom of the window and add a new hotkey. You can see mine is set to Control-Option-M (⌃⌥M) as in menu). I now have instant access to any menu item in any app.

So, let's say I have some text selected in Accordance, and I want to change it to Yellow. I just invoke with my "Show menu items" trigger, and type "Yel.." and return. If this is a menu item that I use alot and it doesn't have a built-in keyboard shortcut, I can make a trigger to that item. Just invoke the menu items, and select "Yellow", hit tab instead of return and then Command apostrophe to bring up the Trigger panel to make a new trigger again.

If there's anything you can't make easy with Quicksilver, this incredible free utility, I don't know what it is. You can also find a video cast on using this feature from productivity geek/guru Merlin Mann. Have fun being productive.

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