I'm an avid fan of QuickSilver, and I had been using it for several years already. But then development of the application seemed to have stagnated for a while, and many bugs (specially with plugins and advanced features) were never fixed. I then moved to QSB, which seemed to be where the efforts were being concentrated in order to produce such an application. But then again, development seems to have stopped and several features I still miss (like AppleScript launching) were never properly implemented.

I'm aware of a few alternatives out there, notably AlfredApp and LaunchBar, but I wanted to ask here for your opinion and recommendations before trying them out.

So my question is, as of today, which would be the best replacement for QuickSilver? Ideally I would like support for the following features:

  • Launching applications, preference panels and apple scripts.
  • Web search, and search within bookmarks of my favorite browser.
  • Able to perform actions or operations on files (copy, move, reveal in Finder).
  • Custom web searches are a plus. I would love if it could index, e.g., my delicious bookmarks.
  • Free. Open-sourced is a plus.
  • Some plugin infrastructure.
  • A healthy community of developers actively maintaining the application.
  • Not too many bugs.

In your answer, please do let me know about the features of your suggested application, and note if there are any missing features from my desired “ wish list”.

  • 1
    If you want a free quicksilver replacement your only choice is Alfred. It doesn't do all, but it's free. In my opinion, LaunchBar is much more mature and complete, but it's not free. Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 15:54

4 Answers 4


Alfred is the one that meets pretty much all your needs.

  • Launching applications, preference panels and apple scripts.
  • Web search, and search within bookmarks of my favorite browser.
  • Able to perform actions or operations on files (copy, move, reveal in Finder). paid version only
  • Custom web searches.
  • Free.
  • Plugin infrastructure.
  • A healthy community of developers actively maintaining the application.
  • Not too many bugs
  • From their website I understood that operations on files are part of the powerpack paid service. Is this correct? Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 14:00
  • @Juan yes, i'll update my answer Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 14:31
  • +1 to Alfred! Magnificent software, and under very active development.
    – dan8394
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 11:38
  • I also like Alfred. Although themes are only available in the paid version, unfortunately. A theme that looks almost like QuickSilver is available as well.
    – DarkDust
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 12:01

In my experience, LaunchBar (which I'm using now) has been the best replacement for QuickSilver. Right after the switch (I used QS too), I missed a few things here and there and had to adjust to others. Truth is, Launchbar ends up being a perfect replacement for most tasks. Perhaps not as "open" as quicksilver but very mature and stable.

Alfred (which is newer) is ok and it delivers (been using it for a couple of weeks). It lacks certain things (I didn't have the powerpack). Clearly the power pack brings it to the level of LB.

Pros of LB? It's stable, been working for years and it delivers. Relatively easy to configure and expand (e.g.: to add a search and/or modify the catalog). Cons of LB? Development is not what you'd call a fast thing. Other than the ocasional bug-fix, the program hasn't really been updated in a few months. No new features in more than a year. Not that it really "needs" more, but… new ideas would be welcomed too. It's also not free.

Pros of Alfred? It's free for basic stuff, works ok and has a nice community. You can change more things and it's more prone to be configurable in the future. Some actions are better implemented than LB. Can't recall now an example but I remember smiling at certain details.

Cons of Alfred? If the features you want are not in the free package, you will have to pay. Has less features than LB at the moment and is somewhat slower in certain things. Some things you cannot do and I believe LB has better "file" management. But it's probably because I'm used to it.

Of course, if you want Free… you don't have much choice.

  • +1 to LaunchBar. It's one of those apps that's worth the price of admission. I've been using their nightly builds which are very stable and add some new features here and there. Great product. Sometimes you get what you pay for.
    – Ian C.
    Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 16:44
  • +1. I'm a long time LaunchBar user (since 2003) with a QS intermezzo. Development may not be the fastest, but the developer provides excellent support (fast answers per email).
    – pesche
    Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 22:37
  • 1
    One thing nicer in Alfred than LB is you don't have to type real fast because LB starts over if you pause too long between letters and the pause feels too short. I also prefer the center stage view on Alfred as opposed to the LB menu tucked away at the top.
    – John
    Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 9:56
  • @Handy In LB you can customize the "delay" until LB considers that you want to start over from 0.5 to 3.0 seconds. But it's true that you cannot "disable" it. The LB menu is not tucked away at the top: "You can move the LaunchBar window to your preferred screen location by dragging it to the desired location. Just make sure to click into an empty area of the bar when you start the drag. Alternatively, when you hold down the Command key, you can start dragging from anywhere else within in the bar. Note that you can also move the bar across multiple screens." Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 12:52
  • Will Launchbar allow you do control iTunes like Quicksiler does? (I basically used it for play/pause and volume control.) Commented May 3, 2011 at 2:36

Despite a period where it looked like the program would languish, Quicksilver is very much alive and being developed in 2013.

I'd propose an alternative to the Quicksilver from 2011 to be Quicksilver now at http://qsapp.com

The open source development is quite active and most of the big problems have been fixed. In fact, it works so well that the developers have finally released the 1.0 version. You can even participate in the development as the code base is hosted on GitHub - Quicksilver.

  • Thanks for the update! Since I posted this question a couple of years ago I've gotten very used to and extremely pleased with Alfred. Anyway, I'll give the new QS a try for a couple of days and see if it can win me back :) Commented May 29, 2013 at 10:11

I'm also a fan of Quicksilver, and having tried LB and Alfred, I'd say that Alfred feels more "quicksilver-ish" so it was easier for me to understand.

For whatever it's worth, Quicksilver has been open-sourced, and some work is still being done on it, although it's not as active as it once was. It runs fine under Lion.

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