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Shortcat: Spotlight for your screen


It comes as little surprise that OS X supports many flavors of user interaction, nor that certain users gravitate towards certain input styles.

For example, there are trackpad wizards who beckon with careful gestures and there are mouse users who prefer to point with their cursor. And then there are keyboard fiends, those like myself, who live and die by our home position.

If you're a keyboard-based user like me, every physical movement that draws your hands away from the keyboard is a loss in efficiency, a break in concentration. We are the arrow movers, the shortcut makers, the Spotlight addicts. And it is us that the Shortcat app targets.

Currently in public beta, the app offers a new take on keyboard-based interaction. Instead of launching Spotlight (Command-Space), you launch Shortcat (Command-Shift-Space). Enter a few letters and Shortcat searches the frontmost app for matching text.

This solution is brilliant for apps and websites that don't support keyboard shortcuts. I've now used it to prepare TUAW posts in Safari, to navigate between chat rooms in Colloquy and to jump to messages in Mail.

This is still a beta and I did encounter beta issues. At times, Shortcat would go into endless-spinny-progress mode, ignoring me until I quit and relaunched the app. Also, I quickly discovered that Shortcat doesn't walk through menus, only windows, although for many purposes that's perfectly sufficient to my needs.

Even so, this is a really promising app and one that I'm already seeing could become a big part of my daily work routine.

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