Applications like Quicksilver, Butler, and LaunchBar are useful applications for launching other applications using assigned hot keys. I currently Butler for launching programs and web pages and I have used Quicksilver in the past for the same reasons, but since I started using QuicKeys, I‘ve found it to be a better application launcher than the other ones stated above. Here’s why:
If you’re an experienced Mac user, you no doubt have your favorite applications that you use on a regular basis. Those applications probably remain open on your computer on a regular basis or you typically open and close them when needed. Though it’s easy to assign hot keys to launch programs, programs like QuicKeys and iKey are more powerful because they can automated the often redundant process of launching programs.
Automatic Application Launching
With QuicKeys and other automaton programs, you can assign a trigger to launch an application(s) on designated day(s) and time(s). If you think about your daily routine of checking your email and browsing certain websites, there’s little need to manually launch these applications and websites, when you can automate the process.
In the above shortcut, QuicKeys launches or brings to the front Mail and a Google web page every weekday morning at 7:30 on my Mac. I can have it do the same thing for opening designated folders and files as well.
Open Groups of Files, Web Pages and Applications
You can also have QuicKeys launch groups of applications, web pages, or files one after another. So for example, when I launch MarsEdit, the word processing editor I use for writing and posting blogs, two other applications, Firefox (opens to a specific web page) and another application, ScreenSteps, which I use for taking screen shots. I don’t need to manually launch these applications individually or assign hot keys to open them. QuicKeys is so powerful that it will even resize and move the front window of designated applications to my second computer monitor. I will do a tutorial about this later.
Automation applications are also good for quitting running programs as well. Though most Macs are powerful enough to have several applications active at the same time, some applications like Photoshop can drag down your CPU if left open, so it’s a good idea to quit them. By the same token, there’s no reason to leave open applications like iCal or Address Book if you only open them to access information a few times a week. QuicKeys can be set up to automatically quit applications after they are not in use for certain amount time of time. Furthermore, you can set up shortcuts to have QuicKeys close down or hide programs when another designated application is opened or closed.
Setting Up Automated Shortcuts
Now, to be honest, automation programs like QuicKeys and Keyboard Maestro are more challenging to configure than say using Butler or Quicksilver, but putting in the effort to creat shortcut automations pays in the long run because they save you time on your computer, which is to me one of the main reasons you want to automate as many tasks as you can.
The more I’ve learned about what QuicKeys can do, I’ve used Butler a lot less. And in fact, QuicKeys could really replace Butler all together, because it’s more powerful, with the wider range of features for getting things done.
I will be following up this blog with short tutorials on how to set up shortcuts for launching applications in QuicKeys and other automaton programs.