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FastScripts 2.3.4

September 27th, 2007

Those of you who are using FastScripts with the forthcoming Leopard 10.5 operating system from Apple will want to upgrade to FastScripts 2.3.4, which works better in that environment.

I don’t talk a lot about FastScripts these days, because I’ve been so busy focusing on other applications. But it’s still a really big part of my workflow here, and I don’t know what I would do without it!

Often I get feedback from people who have finally figured out how FastScripts can help them. The recurring theme to this feedback is “I had no idea it could do that!” So let me try to summarize some of FastScripts’s selling points more effectively than the current product page does:

  • It lets you open or run (almost) anything, instantly by keystroke. Yes, it supports shell scripts, AppleScripts, applications, Automator actions, and can even open documents for you. Just put them in the Scripts folder.
  • Its keyboard shortcuts can replace almost any menu item shortcut in any application, redefining the behavior with a script.
  • Its context-specific behavior for Applications lets you define shortcuts for just one app, without affecting other apps.
  • It installs in your menu bar, but is not a hack. It’s “just an app.”
  • Built-in “On Screen Display” functionality lets you show nifty Growl-style feedback, even if you don’t run Growl.
  • Oh yeah, it’s particularly good at running scripts quickly, without taking focus away from your target application, and without frustrating you.

I recently showed off some of my FastScripts tricks to the local CocoaHeads group here in Boston, yielding some oohs and aahs (and one immediate sale!). A lot of people are familiar with the awesome “everything launchers” such as LaunchBar and Quicksilver, but are increasingly less familiar with the benefits of an old-fashioned “macro” setup. I think this “one stroke and you’re done” approach still has a place, and can make you a lot more productive.

The biggest difference between FastScripts and these apps is FastScripts doesn’t strive to be a general-purpose launcher. It’s a paring knife where those apps are a cleaver. Its primary purpose is to alter the landscape of your Mac so that the results you want, in Mail, the Finder, Safari, whatever, are available at the pressing of a single keystroke.

20 Responses to “FastScripts 2.3.4”

  1. Howard Says:

    I recommend you make a screencast to show off its abilities.

  2. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Yeah, I need to do that one of these days. For all my apps, really.

  3. Adam Bell Says:

    And this version will use spotlight metadata to make the initial search 10 times faster, right?

  4. Peter Hosey Says:

    Does FastScripts support Growl for when it *is* installed?

  5. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Adam: No, it doesn’t. Why the sarcastic tone? I am only human, and your feature request, while sensible, is sort of complicated and hasn’t been a high enough priority for me to tackle yet. Frankly, I can’t promise whether it will ever get done. That’s how software development works, so I hope it isn’t going to frustrate you every single time I release an update.

    Peter: It doesn’t particularly support Growl. The support for on-screen-display of messages in FastScripts is itself via AppleScript. So I figure if somebody wants to display status with Growl they will just use Growl’s AppleScript support.

  6. stubblechin Says:

    Yes, please, a screencast. Even after reading this, I don’t grok your FastScripts. I’d like to, but I don’t. I want to see it in action.

  7. --matthew Says:

    I’m with stubblechin: I’ve read this, but I still don’t get it. seeing it setup then used to do something cool (accessing menu items seems particularly useful — my quicksilver way of doing this is clunky) would help out a lot.

  8. Jacob Rus Says:

    I don’t use fast scripts (preferring to use quicksilver for this stuff since I have it open anyway :), but I imagine the set of scripts that I put together to control iTunes through quicksilver would work just as well from Fast Scripts. And Peter, as a bonus they pop up beautiful Growl notifications :). I assign them to ⌘ + numpad keys, which works great (that’s Fn + ⌘ + right-side-of-laptop-keyboards). For those who are running fastscripts and don’t want to install a separate itunes controller app, I bet they’d work pretty well.

  9. Jacob Rus Says:

    and I just realized I spelled FastScripts three different ways in the preceding comment, all of them wrong. Apologies.

  10. Rob Says:

    Daniel,

    I agree with Howard, a screen cast of this would be cool, particularly showing how it can do what LaunchBar can’t.

    Rob

  11. Vincent van Wylick Says:

    What I’m not entirely clear about whether it replaces Quicksilver or works with it. Currently I use triggers in QS to launch all my apps and some scripts, and control itunes. And I use Mail act-on in Mail.

    I’ll be paying for Marsedit in a few days, so I guess I don’t mind spending a little extra for Fastscripts. I guess what I would like to see is a list of all the stuff you can do with fastscripts to compare to what I’m already doing. Doesn’t have to be a screencast for me (though that’s always cool), more of a list.

  12. Konstantinos Says:

    +1 for a screencast.

    I have no idea how to use this app, even though I know it can do cool stuff.

  13. The Plaid Cow Says:

    The problem with doign a screencast for an application/script launcher is that it is highly dependent on the applications and scripts that you have available. And, for the most part, this is not a tool that does things, it allows you to do things. So what do I have set up? Here is a sampling:

    System Level
    * iTunes control – Prev (F9), Play/Stop (F10), Next (F11)
    * Ping GrowlTunes (Cmd-F10) – Ping GrowlTunes to re-show the current playing track.

    Finder
    * New Named Folder (Cmd-Shift-N) – Will suggest a name for a new folder (based on the selection), then move all of the files to that new folder
    * Rename Files (Cmd-Shift-R) – Open the selected files with R-name
    * Move Files Up (Cmd-Shift-U) – Move the selected files to the parent folder.
    * Move to Filename Folders – Move the selected files to folders based on a portion of the name.
    * New Document (Cmd-Opt-N) – Create a new document of a type selected from a dialog. (Like a right click in windows.)
    * View as Preview (Cmd-Shift-J) – Change to view by icon w/ large icons & show preview.
    * Slideshow in GraphicConverter (Cmd-Shift-D) – View the current folder as a slideshow in GraphicConverter

    Mail
    * My Junk Command (Cmd-Shift-J) – Call my own junk mail command instead of the mail default

    iTunes
    * Rename Files (Cmd-Shift-R) – Rename the currently selected files (based on the tag data)
    * Organize Files (Cmd-Shift-O) – Move the currently selected files (based on the tag data)

    This is all I can come up with off the top of my head…and these are just ones with keyboard shortcuts. There are plenty of others that are just in the menu.

  14. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Plaid Cow- thanks! For posting those examples. I think you’re right that a screencast is hard. I would have to essentially capture some things that I think are “universally useful” (or at least inspiring) and demonstrate them in action.

    To further elaborate on how it differs from QuickSilver – basically it is dedicated to handling single gesture keyboard shortcuts. There is no modal UI. I believe you can also do this with QuickSilver but it’s not as straight-forward. With FastScripts you just plop items into your scripts folder and they’re “runnable” from the script menu. Cmd-select them to attach a keystroke, and you’re in business.

    Working on the understanding that it “opens/runs things elegantly by keystroke” I would suggest installing it and trying it with a few scripts. There are some examples on my site:

    http://www.red-sweater.com/AppleScript/

    But you can also drop in documents (or an alias to a document) and attach a keyboard shortcut to them, etc.

  15. Takaaki Says:

    We need more use cases. From mac beginners to coder, musician, designers and office workers. AppleScript may be easier than other scripting languages; however, for those without any programming experience. Just writing one line of code is daunting sometimes.

    User stories of real scripts give us (or me) a good start of learning scripting (by modifying what someone else wrote).

    Or write a book on AppleScript and publish it, Daniel!

  16. Nicklas Says:

    I think an extended (user contributed?) source of scripts would be really helpful – the page at http://www.red-sweater.com/AppleScript/ has given me some ideas, but The Plaid Cow’s list above is crying out to be shared :)

    N

  17. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Yeah I would really love to set up a user-contributed group of “scripts that work well with FastScripts” … will think more about that.

  18. Grayson Says:

    Check out http://www.fromconcentratesoftware.com/Applescripts/.

    Of particular note:
    http://www.fromconcentratesoftware.com/Applescripts/#ExpandSnippet

    It uses FastScripts to add basic snippet support a la TextMate to applications.

    I replaced the standard scripts menu with FastScripts and I’ve loved it ever since.

  19. Ray Says:

    There’s one feature of FastScripts that I’ve never seen mentioned anywhere.

    At first it’s easy to use it as an application launcher. Just create a folder called something like “open” in the Scripts folder and throw in a 2 line file like this:

    #!/bin/sh
    open /Applications/NetNewsWire.app

    You don’t even have to make it executable. Or use Applescript. Or make an alias to NetNewsWire.app and throw that in there — no scripting required. Give it a shortcut and you’re good to go. You’ve got a launcher.

    Then go out and find some scripts that you can use and throw them in there. Get used to using them, and maybe even try to figure out how they sort of work.

    One day you’ll think of something you want to do. Maybe it’ll be real mundane, like a timer to remind you when that cup of tea is ready. You’ll think, “I can do that”, and you’ll write your first script. Other things you want to do will come to mind, and you slowly start learning how to create and modify existing scripts. Maybe one day that tea timer becomes a general purpose timer, and then later becomes an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning with iTunes.

    Why? Because FastScripts is so simple. It’s magic lies in the scripts you throw in that folder, not in the complexity of the application. Those scripts are not hidden away, but are right out there in plain sight for you to diddle with and learn from, and you will.

  20. Jim DeVona Says:

    I’ve written some scripts for my own use that work great with FastScripts.

    For the Finder:

    Select Glob: Select files and folders using glob patterns. (Similar to Dan’s “Select Regular Expression” script.)
    Open As: Open an explicitly-named duplicated of the selected file or folder.

    For Yojimbo:

    Bookmark in Yojimbo: One of many ways to enter bookmarks.
    Backdate Yojimbo Items: Hack to change item creation/modification dates.
    Export Comment Tags: Use tags as Spotlight comments for exported items.

    For Pages:

    Resize Graphics by Percent: I’m not entirely certain this isn’t already possible, but I couldn’t figure out how.

    For GraphicConverter + Growl:

    Global Info Window: Consult basic image information from other applications.

    Basically I use FastScripts and AppleScript as a good cop/bad cop team to get that extra 10% out of my applications. If you’re curious about how you could use FastScripts, consider your own workflow. Are there any particularly cumbersome steps? You may be able to find (or write) a script that simplifies those steps, and FastScripts is a great way to run those scripts.

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