Most serious Mac users these days have heard of Quicksilver, the launcher/file manager/all-purpose-do-everything app that attracts almost cult-like devotion from some users.
But not all Quicksilver users will have heard of Constellation mode; certainly most non-Quicksilver users are likely to be unfamiliar with it.
While Quicksilver as a whole is about using the keyboard as your primary interface with the computer, its Constellation mode brings back a degree of mouse-oriented control. So in one fell swoop it almost turns the whole idea of Quicksilver on its head, but it also opens up Quicksilver to a wider audience. Some folks genuinely prefer to click with a mouse than have to remember key combinations, and in Constellation mode, Quicksilver may appeal to them much more than it used to.
If you have the very latest Quicksilver release and operate it in “Enable advanced features - beta” mode, you will be able to download and install Constellation from the plugins. After a relaunch, it will have its own tab in Quicksilver’s preferences.
As you can see from the screenshot, invoking Constellation in Quicksilver pops up a very attractive circular menu, with large click-friendly buttons for a variety of functions. Naturally, these buttons are entirely context-sensitive and offer different options depending on what sort of file you’re trying to manipulate.
Getting Constellation up and working requires only moderate skill, but getting your head around how it works and what it can offer needs a little extra investment of time. This thread at the Blacktree forums offers some insightful tips and made-for-you mistakes.
While I found Constellation fun to try, it also made Quicksilver much slower and crashed it several times, so I’ve removed it now and all is well again. If you’re interested in trying it, go ahead, but don’t forget it’s beta. Stuff might break. Whenever it does reach final status, it will be a real nice extra for Quicksilver users, and proof that Quicksilver remains one of the most exciting and cutting-edge applications available for OS X these days.