This is almost funny, coming just days after I posted my latest raving enthusiasm for it on these very pages; but I’ve just ceased being a Quicksilver user on my primary working computer, and replaced it with Butler.
There’s a reason, mind you.
My PowerBook’s been crashing repeatedly, and I’ve gone though all sorts of hoops trying to fix it. I couldn’t seem to locate the precise nature of the problem, but whatever it was, it was serious enough to bring the whole machine to its knees every time. Crash logs were of limited use to me; what bits of them I could understand just told me that everything was crashing.
So I started the machine up and this time, added one app at a time, with Activity Monitor running to show me just what the effect was. And the culprit was none other than my old friend, my one essential tool for day-to-day computing happiness, Quicksilver. It was eating up over 90 per cent of CPU cycles. Ouch. Quit it, and suddenly everything’s calm again. Restart it, and the processor is working overtime again.
I removed Quicksilver completely, and gave it a second chance. A fresh install later, it was still eating 40-50 per cent CPU. I have no idea why; some threads on the Blacktree forums suggested limiting the scope of the Catalog, so Quicksilver has fewer files to keep an eye on. But with this fresh install, I hadn’t even touched the default catalog and it was still demanding a lot of computing power.
Disheartened and dejected, I considered my options. There are plenty of text-based launchers around (I should know), but Quicksilver’s always been my favorite. After some experiments (and a few days using Spotlight, which did nothing but make me twitch with irritation) I settled on Peter Maurer’s Butler. It requires a new way of thinking, and a fair bit of initial configuration to get it working exactly the way you want it to, but so far I am very pleased with it.
On reflection, I should amend my list of essential Mac applications a little. Quicksilver is great, and continues to run without problems on my two other Macs. Butler seems to be the better option for me on this one, at least until I locate another, deeper problem that might have been causing Quicksilver to behave so oddly. So my list should now begin with “A text-based launcher”; something, anything, that will let me open files, folders and apps without having to reach for the mouse. That’s what is essential. Whether it’s Quicksilver or Butler, I don’t really mind.