Faster Printing with Quicksilver

At the end of the day/week I often find myself printing off many different files from many different applications, typically Microsoft Word and OmniOutliner documents, RTFs and PDFs. Previously this meant navigating through the Finder and opening up all the various files in their various associated applications and printing off each file individually.

Merely opening three different files in three different applications and printing would look something like this:

double click ... double click ... double click ... Wait for applications to open ... ?-P ... ENTER ... ?–W ... ?–TAB ... ?–P ... ENTER ... ?–W ... ?–TAB ... ?–P ... ENTER ... ?–W ...

You get the idea…

I have discovered two Quicksilver (hereafter ‘QS’) actions that can speed up the process. Using QS I can quickly and easily select a whole bunch of files and print them en mass without having to open their default applications to do so.


Before you start clogging your print spooler you need to perform some tweaking in QS’s preferences. Don’t worry there is nothing difficult here.

1 – Set Up Advanced Features

  • Invoke Quicksilver (by default, ?–SPACE)
  • Press ?–, (i.e. Hold the Command key and press the comma key) to open QS’s preferences.
  • Click the “Preferences” icon at the top of preferences box.
  • Tick the “Advanced Features” check box.

2 – Add Your Printer(s) to the QS Catalogue

  • While still in QS’s preferences click the “Catalogue” icon in the top right hand corner of the dialog box.
  • Click the “+” button (at the bottom of the dialog box) and select “File and Folder Scanner.”
  • Navigate to ~user/Library/Printers (where user is the name of your user account on your Mac). You should see the name(s) of your printer(s) in that folder. Click “Open”.
  • The “Printers” folder should appear in the “Sources” list and its check box should be ticked.

3 – Install the Current Selection Proxy Object (re Method A below)

  • Again, while still in QS’s preferences click the “Catalogue” icon.
  • Click the “Quicksilver” icon on the left hand side of the preference box.
  • Tick the “Proxy Objects” check box.

Once you have completed the above steps quit and restart QS.

Now lets get down to business…

Method A: Using the “Current Selection” Proxy Object

Quicksilver screenshot of print method A

Use this method when you want to print files that are on the Desktop or are all in the same folder.

  1. Select the files that you wish to print by Command clicking them.
  2. Invoke Quicksilver (by default, ?–SPACE)
  3. Type the name of your printer until QS displays its name e.g. “Lexmark”
  4. Hit the TAB key to select the next pane.
  5. Type “open” and select “Open File”.
    • I recommend making “Open File” the default action for when you type “open”. You can do this by Ctrl clicking “Open File” and selecting ‘Set as Default for “OPEN”.’
  6. Hit TAB to select the next pane.
  7. Type “current” until QS displays ‘Current Selection’.
  8. Hit ENTER.
  9. Your files should start printing.

Method B: Using “The Comma Trick”

Screenshot of Quicksilver print method B

Use this method when printing files that are scattered in different locations on your hard disk.

  1. Invoke Quicksilver
  2. Type the name of your printer.
  3. Hit the TAB key to select the next pane.
  4. Type “open” and select “Open File”
  5. Hit TAB again.
  6. Use Quicksilver to navigate to a folder where the file you wish to print is located. (e.g. type “desktop” to navigate to the Desktop).
  7. Select the file (by using your arrow keys or your mouse).
  8. Hit the comma key (“,”).
    • You should see a little icon of the file appear below the file’s name.
  9. Select another file and again, hit the comma key.
    • Another little icon of the newly selected file should appear next to the first selected file’s icon.
  10. Repeat steps 7 to 8 for any other files that you wish to print.
  11. Hit ENTER.

I have tested the following file types: plain text, RTF, Excel, PDF, JPG and OmniOutliner – and found that they all print without any problems. When you print OmniOutliner documents QS opens up OmniOutliner but prints the file without you having to do anything. Excel documents are also opened by QS, the print dialog box appears automatically but you need to click the “Print” button to send the Excel document to the spool. The other file types (i.e. the native Mac OS X file types – plain text, RTF, PDF and jpg) print ‘magically’ in the background without any applications opening.

Granted these QS ‘cheats’ are nothing mind-blowing. However, they negate all the ‘click-ity click click’ through the Finder and associated Command–Tab-ing between different applications.

If you are new to QS I recommend the following links:

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  1. Mike D
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Great tip!

    One comment that might seem obvious, but wasn’t to me. I use TextWrangler, and using this method to print a plain text file saved from Textwrangler works. But you lose any of the formatting that you might have set up in the “Text Printing” settings of the Textwrangler preferences. Not a big deal most of the time, but good to realize…

  2. Thorrrr
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Great Article

  3. Russ
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Can anyone here get QS to consistently print Word files? I have yet to get it to. Thanks.

  4. Anon
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous. Does it work the other way? e.g.:
    Document(s) > Open With > Some Printer

    I’d test myself but my printer’s on the fritz

  5. Posted July 23, 2007 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Great article, however “Current selection” never shows up for me in the third pane. Suggestions?

  6. Alexander
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for writing this article.

  7. Mark Fisher
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    Thanks everyone.


    I too am getting mixed result with Word documents. It doesn’t seem to work when you try and print multiple Word documents. It does work, however, if you are printing _one_ Word document or _one_ Word document and a bunch of other files (I tested one Word document and 2 PDFs – but I don’t have my printer attached at the moment.). It looks like you have to have the Word app open, unfortunately, for it to work with Word documents.


    It doesn’t appear to work the other way unfortunately. I believe it once did in previous versions of QS (see but not anymore.


    Have you tried restarting QS? Maybe try rescanning your QS catalogue. Hope that helps.

  8. LucaPost
    Posted July 25, 2007 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the tip, this select printer -> open file -> load selection procedure is not very intuitive and usually QS works the other way around (select items -> choose action -> etc )!

    Fr those who have problems with the ‘curr..’you can also select the files from the finder and paste them in the QS pane by command-G (works anywhere in QS, just like the comma trick)


  9. Mark Fisher
    Posted July 25, 2007 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Nice one LucaPost! That’s a great tip!

  10. Cottser
    Posted July 29, 2007 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    I’ve used the second version for a while now, but the “current selection” is awesome, and I hadn’t thought of doing it that way. Usually I’m just dragging a few files into QS from the finder anyway.

    I also smelled a trigger as I was setting it up, so I’ve got a keyboard shortcut now. Thanks!

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