Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Command Bars

Maggie Appleton (via Dan Grover):

Command bars are command-line bars that pop up in the middle of the screen when you hit a certain keyboard shortcut.


Rather than remembering which sub-sub-sub menu a function lives in, users need only remember its name.

They don’t even have to remember its exact name. Fuzzy search can help them find it by simply typing in similar names or related keywords.

I’ve long used LaunchBar as a universal command bar, but now some of the productivity apps that I use daily have their own versions with app-specific commands. In BBEdit, it’s Go ‣ Command… (Command-Shift-U). In Tower, it’s File ‣ Quick Actions (Command-Shift-A). And macOS adds a built-in command searcher to each app’s Help menu (Command-?). Part of the appeal is discovering new commands or quickly locating infrequently used ones, but I also find it useful for commonly used commands in an app where the convenient keyboard shortcuts are already in use.

Update (2022-12-02): See also: Federico Viticci.

Update (2024-04-09): Bruno Brito:

Quick Actions is Tower’s version of the Command Palette. This feature has received praise from our users since its inception, so we thought it was high time we wrote an article covering everything you can achieve with it (spoiler: it’s a lot)! ☺️

6 Comments RSS · Twitter

1Password recently introduced their own command bar. It’s really good, and it allows Autofill everywhere.

Good timing for this article! It happens that our app Remotion just added the "launcher" which is more or less the same idea. Modeled after Spotlight window with heavy inspiration from RayCast. Super-quick action to get on an audio/video call with a teammate. Implemented in SwiftUI, BTW!

Isn't that what the help-search-bar provides since ages? If you add a shortcut in System-Settings to open the help-menu, you have a universal menu-search command at your fingertips.

I use ⌘? mostly for commands with a stable name but an unstable keyboard combination. Pretty much all apps have a keyboard shortcut for "Paste and Match Style" but for the life of me I can never remember what other buttons I need tp press in addition to the command key and the V key. Pressing ⌘? and typing "match" usually gives me what I want with minimal presses of the down-arrow key.

The new Arc browser (which I highly recommend giving a chance) is also design around a command bar that is also the URL bar. It takes a while to get used to that but it's actually quite nice.

A great alternative for the "help-search-bar" feature:

Alfred app + Menu Bar Search

PS. @AdrianB: Arc Browser is a bad choice if you value privacy... i'd avoid it.

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