In the Case of the Slow Mac part 2, Spotlight and its background counterpart were eating up all the system memory. The obvious solution was to disable Spotlight. But without Spotlight, OS X takes a giant leap backward to before Tiger (OS X 10.3 anyone?) and leaves a gaping hole in terms of functionality. Also, as storage continues to increase in size Spotlight helps you search through all of your stuff. But the increase in storage also means an increase in stuff for Spotlight to search through and index. Often you don’t need Spotlight to search through your content because you’re searching for something. For example, you can use Spotlight to search for an Application and once Spotlight finds it, you can then open the application. This is usually faster than opening the Finder, navigating to the Applications Folder, finding the Application and opening it. Depending on your system, it may be slightly slower than finding the application on your dock.
Earlier this year, Google released a small application called the Google Quick Search Box (qsb) for the Mac. This experimental app blends searching the web (via Google of course) and your own content as seamless as possible. Qsb takes a different approach than Spotlight in that it doesn’t index the content of your files. But where it lacks in content it more than makes up for in actions. In other words, not only can you search for files, applications, contacts, and the web, but you can also act upon what you’ve found and search for actions right within QSB. Let’s take a look at a some examples.
Like Spotlight, QSB has a hot-key combination, and a menu bar item with which to search. When you fire up QSB, you get a small field to enter your search:
As you type, QSB will display results, these could be applications, actions, or other items too. For example, if I type ‘it’ into the box, I see the following:
Not only can I open iTunes, I could adjust the volume, or search google for ‘it’ or a host of other things. I could type in the name of my favorite website:
and QSB opens it in my default browser. When I’m done for the day, I can have QSB shut things down for me:
That’s all well and good, but let’s not forget that this is Google, so QSB can also connect to your Google Account. You can search your gmail account for messages from QSB:
Finally, QSB supports plugins and one of the more recent plugins is support for twitter. That’s right, you can tweet from QSB, though it isn’t entirely obvious how to do that at first. What you have to do is start by typing a space in the Quick Search Box. This tells QSB you’re not searching but rather creating text for an action:
Once you have your tweet (keep in mind the character limit), hit the tab key or the right arrow key and you’ll be presented with an action to update your twitter status.
QSB is a handy application that can take the place of Spotlight most of the time and it does quite a bit more. If you need to search your documents for your great Aunt’s gingerbread recipe, QSB isn’t going to help much (unless it is on Google Documents). But QSB can help you launch Mail or Skype to ask her for it again. You can download QSB from here.