Taking Shortcuts with Google Quick Search Box

Google Quick Search Box is the next step in the evolution of Google Desktop: it goes a step beyond simply letting you search the files on your computer to provide an integrated tool that lets you take a variety of actions from a launch bar. It’s designed in part by Nicholas Jitkoff, one of the original developers of Quicksilver.

The biggest advancement with Google Quick Search Box is the ability to perform actions on your search results. Where once you could only find files from Google Desktop, you can now launch files, email them as attachments, and move them to the trash just as easily.

Setting Up Google Quick Search Box

Downloading Google Quick Search Box and installing it is a relatively simple matter. On a Mac, though, set up can take a few minutes as you decide which applications to give the tool access to, as well as adding your various accounts.

Within Preferences, you can choose what files Google Quick Search Box can search. Unlike Google Desktop, Google Quick Search Box does not need to index the files it searches. Instead, it makes use of Spotlight’s index in order to save hard drive space and speed up your searches.

If you choose to make every possible item searchable on your computer, you don’t have to worry about a slow indexing process. Among the files you can make accessible are your Address Book contacts, Dictionary and other files on your computer.

Setting up GQSB

Setting up GQSB

You can also access information saved in various Google tools online by adding your Google account information in your preferences. Once you’ve set up your account, you can access Google Bookmarks, Picasa Web Albums and Google Docs just as easily as you can launch an application installed on your computer. You can also run Google searches just by typing your keywords into Google Quick Search Box.

Google Quick Search Box in Action

Calculator

Not only can you launch Calculator with Google Quick Search Box, but you can also complete calculations in the search box itself — no other application needed. Want to do some quick arithmetic? You can simply type your math problem into the search box and you’ll get an answer as one of your search results.

Calculator

Calculator

iTunes

The integration with iTunes is similarly useful. If you want to listen to a particular song, you can search for it and queue it up in iTunes. You can also search for playlists and quickly change up what you’re listening to. You can also control your computer’s volume by typing the word ‘volume’ and selecting the level you need. If you’ve already built a few playlists from your music, you can control all of your music from your keyboard.

iTunes

iTunes

Address Book & Mail

The integration with the Address Book and Mail is particularly useful. You can search for your contacts with the Google Quick Search Box: you’ll immediately see their email addresses, but you can also use the launch bar to create a new email to that contact or open the address book entry. You can eliminate several steps in opening applications, searching for particular contacts and composing new messages, letting you speed up your workflow significantly.

Address Book

Address Book

Google Docs

As long as you’ve allowed Google Quick Search Box access to your Google account, it can search through your Google Docs and display matching search results alongside results from your computer. If you select a document that is saved to your Google Docs account, Google Quick Search Box will launch it as a new tab in your browser.

Google Docs

Google Docs

Websites

You can open websites from the search box, just by typing in the address. You can also search for sites you’ve bookmarked — Google Quick Search Box can automatically handle Camino, Safari and Google Bookmarks. With the right plugins, you can also open Firefox and Delicious bookmarks.

Websites

Websites

Searches

One of the options always available in your search results is the ability to look up any search terms you enter in Google. Selecting that option will open your search in your browser, letting you look through the results.

Searches

Searches

Site Searches

If you need to search within a particular website, Google Quick Search Box allows you to quickly do so: type in the address of the site you want to search within and hit ‘Tab’. Just type your search right after the website you’re searching and the results will appear below the search box. Selecting one will launch it just like any other website.

Site Searches

Site Searches

Finder Integration

Google Quick Search Box can handle many of the tasks you might previously handled with Finder. You can access the Clipboard (and the last 25 items you copied to it), just by typing Clipboard in the search box and hitting ‘Tab’. You can drag and drop icons to the desktop, access the Dashboard, eject disk images and move files. For each of these tasks, it’s just a matter of typing the file name into Google Quick Search Box and checking the options for interacting with them by hitting ‘Tab’. You can also use keyboard shortcuts, such as ‘ej’ for ejecting a disk image that you’ve already selected.

You can access the menus within various programs, allowing you to take steps like opening recent documents: type the name of the application and hit ‘Tab’. The menus will appear among your search results, allowing you to easily access options like ‘Open Recent Document’ even when the application isn’t even open.

Finder Integration

Finder Integration

You can also control your computer on a broader level than just interacting with files: you can access the ‘restart’, ‘shutdown’ and ‘sleep’ options for your Mac, just by typing the appropriate word and clicking the icon that appears in your search results. The same technique works with locking your screen and logging out.

Customizing Google Quick Search Box

Google specifically built Google Quick Search Box so that users could add on new tools to the existing framework. One of the first plugins to be created for Google Quick Search Box was a Twitter tool: you can tweet by typing your message into the search box and selecting the ‘Send Twitter Status’ action, provided you’ve added your Twitter account already.

Customizing GQSB

Customizing GQSB

A number of other plugins are are already available, such as a plugin for managing task lists with Things. The code for Google Quick Search Box is open source and available on Google Code. Download the application and give it a try – you might find that it becomes a real time saver!