Quicksilver or Launchbar? Or Alfred??

Which one is the better launcher/control mechanism for keyboard afficinados/do-it-all-quicker-and-easier-helper?

And why?


Don’t listen to me; I’m not an expert, but:

  • I started to be concerned about Quicksilver when, effectively, development seemed to cease and it only worked with the then-latest version of OS X (10.6? 10.7?) by serendipity;

  • I liked/continue to like Launchbar, but became a little frustrated with it when the developer didn’t increase the font size despite numerous user requests. (This sounds petty; but when the application is intended to make work more productive and quicker, instant recognition of text becomes important.) Maybe that’s changed now.

  • Alfred appears to be under continuous development and churning out new ideas. Its workflow wheeze appears, at least to an amateur like me, to be a good one. It looks pretty - and its standard text is bigger than Launchbar’s.

You didn’t list Butler: http://manytricks.com/butler/. It claims: “Due to its unique variety of triggers and tasks, Butler is more flexible than any other productivity tool you’ve seen before.” I haven’t tried it.

I have Launchbar and Alfred.
Don’t use either. :blush:

[size=85]One came as part of a bundle package. I have no idea where/when I got the other, probably also for free at some stage.[/size]

I tried all three, and ended up with Alfred. It’s really pretty handy, and highly customizable.

Latest Quicksilver release is only six months old, but I think it’s in the hands of a new dev; no idea how it will progress. It is the Swiss Army Knive of launcher/controllers, if you can master the ins and outs.

If all you want is keyboard launch, they don’t get much simpler than Namely. I’ve had it for eight years, and it still works on OS 10.9. Brainchild of Amar Sagoo, who came up with multi-column text reader Tofu (which I believe KB has cited) and Deep Notes, an early outliner/notepad. Sagoo dropped development on all when he worked for Google, but now he’s re-considering.

Spotlight now is probably as good as Namely. I keep Namely around because it’s familiar and has already learned my shortcuts.


Quicksilver without a shadow or black hole of doubt. Still incredibly Zen easy to use, but very deep to master… I still think the implementation of noun > verb > modifier is the most elegant of all the launchers…

Development is very active, lots of improvements streaming in every few days: github.com/quicksilver/Quicksil … its/master

That’s encouraging. When I was looking for this kind of thing, the (former?) QS developer was recommending people look at other utilities. I tried it anyway, but it crashed a few times, so I gave up on it. Glad to see it’s back in the running now.

QuickSilver is what got me started on this type of utility. At some point I came across LaunchBar and have been using it since. It does what I need for the most part. It’s low-profile, uses fairly intuitive actions for doing things. For example if I want to get info on the item I’ve selected, I just hit Cmd-I like in Finder. Cmd-D duplicates the file in place. Shift-Cmd-N makes a new folder in the spot I’ve navigated to. With QuickSilver I’d have to trigger another sequence of commands. I also like how it supports Vi key navigation: hjkl.

I’ve had a look at Alfred and Butler. Alfred doesn’t look like it has anything over what I’ve currently got, so I have had little reason to try it. Butler is more interesting, but again there isn’t anything that really stands out in the list of features that I either don’t already have, or just don’t need (like text snippets, I already have Typinator for that—and actually I think LaunchBar added snippets a few releases back anyway). But for someone new to the genre, it seems a good idea to try them all out, as the main thing you will find different between these programs is probably not in their feature list, but their feel. I touched on that above, with LaunchBar it has a more “Mac” feel to it. Get somewhere, do a shortcut. With QuickSilver it is more of a modular toolkit feel. It’s more powerful for that, but you’ve got to hit stuff tab stuff tab stuff a lot more often to get things done.

Whatever the case, I consider this class of software to be integral with how I use a Mac. I always sorely miss it when using other platforms.

Thanks for all replies. After thorough consideration, I’ve decided to go with Alfred+Powerpack as best compromise for what I need.

There was a new version of Launchbar released yesterday, with, among many other changes and improvements, a more instantly legible user interface (see my post above - though I claim no responsibility whatsoever - competition from Alfred may be a different story, however!). It will be interesting to see whether those former users who’ve undoubtedly migrated to Alfred over recent years now migrate back.

Here’s a detailed review - to find it, scroll down the page.

I liked the new changes to Launchbar. I can read it now. However, I’m sticking to Alfred because the new Launch bar doesn’t really offer me anything more. Although, I have always liked Launchbar’s ability for instant send (Alferd has it to,but you have to remember a different keyboard shortcut) and a smoother ability to drill into the file structure.