Visor: a quake-like drop down terminal for your Mac.
June 16, 2006 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Visor: Brought to you by the wonderful folks who made the incredible Quicksilver, Visor is a drop down terminal for your mac, similar to the quake terminal. Plus, you can use quartz composer movies as backgrounds!
posted by Freen (28 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This one is my favorite background!
posted by Freen at 12:00 PM on June 16, 2006

This quicksilver thing is something not very well documented, and because I don't have a Mac I can't try out.

Can someone explain?
posted by WetherMan at 12:07 PM on June 16, 2006

No, noone can fully explain Quicksilver, not even the developers. There are features in there that not even the developers have discovered! I've been using it since it went public, and it's gotten faster and better with every revision.

I've been using Visor for a few days (I use kuake regularly on other Unixes) and it's pretty damn good. I was already a very heavy GNU Screen user, so I took to it instantly. I ended up setting my .screenrc on my Powerbook to use C-s as screen's meta key instead of C-a so I can nest remote screens (I use ssh user@host -t screen -x to maintain persistent sessions on my servers)

The only feature Visor needs is to be able to have it's own seperate preferences from your Terminal defaults. It should probably become a seperate .app from Terminal.
posted by blasdelf at 12:33 PM on June 16, 2006

The version linked is all well and good, but this hacked version has a better (and more in keeping with the FPS-style console) window close animation.
posted by majick at 12:39 PM on June 16, 2006

WetherMan: Quicksilver is kind of like a command line for the Mac OS X GUI. It can do things from your keyboard, shuffle things to other things, and get you to what you want as fast as you can type (or faster, if you consider the learning auto-completion).

That doesn't do a good job of explaining it though, it's probably better to show than tell. The Apple Blog has some screencasts showing it off, including this advanced one that shows how it can be used to throw files around at an alarming rate.
posted by revgeorge at 12:40 PM on June 16, 2006

So visor a terminal window that make is impossible to use the rest of your screen real estate? Sign me up!
posted by mzurer at 12:54 PM on June 16, 2006

Oh, and if you want to add some transparency and you have a plist editor, do this:
$ open ~/Library/Preferences/

Then modify the value of Root/VisorTerminal/TerminalOpaqueness. It seems to default to 1.0, but a value of 0.7 looks good if you use a black background.
posted by majick at 12:56 PM on June 16, 2006

No, it only uses screen real estate when you pop it up using a hotkey. When it loses focus or you pop it down, it uses no screen real estate at all. I love it!
posted by majick at 12:57 PM on June 16, 2006

I honestly can't figure out why this useful - If I am constantly using a terminal window, I leave it open and command-tab over to it. It seems like it is a reverse boss key - It makes it look like you're using your computer to play a game when you're actually working.
posted by mzurer at 1:02 PM on June 16, 2006

Command-tabbing to a real terminal is better than quicksilver or this thing any day. No thanks. The novelty value is ok, I guess.
posted by cellphone at 2:21 PM on June 16, 2006

cellphone: You may have a point about command-tabbing in certain environments, but for what I do, and the amount I use terminal to get chunks of info on the fly, this is amazing. I also tend to have a whole bunch of applications open, so my command-tab list is quite long.

As for quicksilver, I can't use a computer that doesn't have quicksilver. It feels crippled. Quicksilver is so much more than just access to the command line. Think about when you first had a shell access, how you built all sorts of little scripts to do all sorts of little things. Quicksilver is like that, but prebuilt, fast, configurable, powerful, intuitive, and omnipresent. I don't have to leave my current task to jot down notes, send off an email, or resize a picture.

Just as an example, while typing this reply, I emailed a file to my boss without having to touch the mouse, and it couldn't have taken me more than a second or two.
posted by Freen at 2:47 PM on June 16, 2006

yeah, i have to admit that visor, while a cool hack, would be far more useful as a seperate app. since it requires having the terminal open anyway, why not just command-tab over to a terminal, or better yet, install witch and (in my case) option-tab to the specific terminal window you wish to type in. same number of keystrokes.....
posted by casconed at 3:20 PM on June 16, 2006

Wow, how disappointing. The "systemwide terminal window" only works when Terminal is already running? Lame.
posted by aaronetc at 3:38 PM on June 16, 2006

Well, I like it.
posted by 31d1 at 4:51 PM on June 16, 2006

Once you have quicksilver... well, I keep wishing for someone to port quicksilver to win32...
posted by Fupped Duck at 5:24 PM on June 16, 2006

At the risk of diggizing the post, if you're a linux user, you can grab Tilda, which does the same thing. If you're a windows user you can use... um... wow. I'd really like to have one of these for Windows too. It's uncanny how many times a day I have to open up cmd just to do one thing.
posted by hoborg at 5:56 PM on June 16, 2006

it's only lame if you have no use for it. i can't remember when i would have thought that hitting command tab and tabbing to the terminal icon would seem in any way fast or efficient.

even if you don't like visor, at least with quicksilver you can open a terminal window with three keystrokes which are always the same and con go to muscle memory.

as for me, I quite like visor.. it is just the trick for a lot of things... one keystroke to invoke, then you do your thing and then one keystroke and you're back - with a term you'd have to hide it etc.

Also, if you use terminal a lot you should consider opening it hidden at boot so that it's ready for you.
posted by n9 at 6:48 PM on June 16, 2006

Hmm. Work this up with the smack-mac, so when you hit the top of your powerbook, the terminal opens up.

I'll have to take a look at this.
posted by eriko at 6:55 PM on June 16, 2006

I agree that this isn't quite great so long as it requires to be open. I would just point out that in the list of feature requests on the site it mentions the possibility of changing this requirement, so I think it's worth putting on the watch list. Especially considering how great Quicksilver is (long-time user here.)
posted by aletheia at 7:18 PM on June 16, 2006

Command-tabbing to a real terminal is better than quicksilver or this thing any day. No thanks. The novelty value is ok, I guess.
posted by cellphone

If only everyone could be as cool as you cellphone. Novelty value? You either have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, and what quicksilver does, or you're trolling. If it's the latter, you got me.
posted by justgary at 8:37 PM on June 16, 2006

This induces considerably less 'Holy wow how did I ever live without this?' feeling than Quicksilver - which is hands-down the best Mac shareware/freeware app - but if you don't live in the command line yet find yourself using one often, discretely, it sounds extremely useful.

Quicksilver for those who don't know: a combination 'graphical command line' and pseudo-natural-language interface to OS and app-specific functions, invoked from the keyboard, anywhere. e.g. From within any app, one keystroke to invoke QS, type the location of a file (w/drop-down completion), hit tab, type an action to do to it, tab, type a destination. It learns your commonly-typed commands and with each release gets more freakily powerful. As of a few months ago it has keyboard access to every menu function and intra-app objects ('proxy objects') for your current application, including commands with no KB shortcuts.

Elegance of Mac, sheer mind-numbing power of an xterm that can reach into even graphical apps and futz about with data. I absolutely second Freen - Quicksilver is so good it's worth switching to Mac for. Sounds like hot air but seriously, watch the videos, unjaundiced.
posted by waxbanks at 3:28 AM on June 17, 2006

Command-tabbing to a real terminal is better than quicksilver or this thing any day. No thanks. The novelty value is ok, I guess.
posted by cellphone

it is obvious that you've not figured out Quicksilver.

first off, if you have 5 apps open to get to Terminal you'd have to hit cmd tab and then look at the screen and hit tab a couple more times.

With QS you hit your invoke key and typer ter and hit return. That's the default best way.

If you get into QS you'd map a trigger for Terminal. I have it set to control-option-command-backslash. One keystroke.
posted by n9 at 3:35 AM on June 17, 2006

Can someone point me to online resources to explain exactly why Quicksilver is so great? I mean, I use it, but I wouldn't say it's anything more than marginally useful. I've done my own web searches, but all I've found are demonstrations of things I didn't want to do in the first place..
posted by salmacis at 5:08 AM on June 17, 2006

I used to use Quicksilver and I stopped. I really do find it easier and preferable to just switch to an application and perform whatever action there just using my mouse. I'm not constantly making one line additions to text files, running scripts, sending files off via FTP, etc. I used it as an application launcher until Tiger. Now I just use Spotlight, which is slower, but built-in, to launch applications and find text files.
posted by yesno at 6:29 AM on June 17, 2006

For example, if I need to attach files to emails (and I do quite often), I can find the item I need to attach in the first pane, in the second pane arrow down to "Email to..." and in the third pane type a few letters of the person's name, then hit enter and it makes a new email with the item attached (multiple items possible), which is a lot easier than making the email and then attaching the items. Also items can be dragged out of the panes into open applications, etc.

The point is, at its best, and with a number of applications open, it's a keyboard-driven replacement for the Finder itself, which I think is pretty cool.
posted by Grangousier at 10:18 AM on June 17, 2006

yesno: I use spotlight and quicksilver for different, if complimentary tasks. Quicksilver is the default if i know the name of the file. Spotlight is for deeper searches into the data of files.

I use quicksilver for a whole host of things, changing itunes tracks, composing emails, adding events to my calendars, etc.

on preview: what Grangousier said.
posted by Freen at 11:47 AM on June 17, 2006

spotlight is slow and unpredictable. quicksliver is like running a command. and you should really take a few minutes to look at triggers. anything you can do in quicksilver you can map to a global keystroke. so i have a keyboard shortcut for emailing my boss, for opening up my kGTD outline in Omnioutliner, for opening up a Term, for opening up a Term and sshing to a few hosts, for pausing iTUnes, advancing a track, for opening up servers.

Basically when I get down to work i never touch the mouse, my hands stay in the home row of the keyboard... which is heaven for me -- everything happens as soon as I think it. If that's not something that you obsess over then it might not be the tool for you. But for me, it makes thing fast and as someone else wrote it keeps the Finder away. I don't like the Finder very much... everything takes a hell of a long time to do there.
posted by n9 at 12:36 PM on June 17, 2006

For me, Spotlight has been inconsistent in its results, buggy in its configuration, and the live updating only gives the illusion of efficiency until I try to actually open a result; then I watch it scurry out of the way at the last moment. The worst part is that Apple decided to apply this live search concept globally. There's a reason I can name Google, and I can't name the other search engine that thought as-you-type search updating would be a killer app.

I don't use many of the more obscure features of QuickSilver, but even its application launching and switching is superior in speed to those offered by the system. I can't, for instance, drag an item over an icon in the application switcher (i.e. Dock), as much as I have tried. On the other hand, I can grab a file, invoke QS, type a few letters naming the app I want, and drag the file right onto it to open it in that app. QS does a lot of the things I think the OS should do but doesn't.
posted by evil holiday magic at 2:02 PM on June 18, 2006

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