Search ADS, SIMBAD, and astro-ph with Quicksilver

by Kelle on May 10, 2011

Since it turns out that Quicksilver will continue to be developed—and now that I’ve managed to get some breathing room from teaching, researching, and advising—I’ve been spending some time rekindling and honing my Quicksilver ninja skills. (If you need an intro, check out: Introducing Quicksilver.) In particular, I’ve got mine setup to perform searches of ADS, SIMBAD, and astro-ph. I find the ADS and SIMBAD queries to be very intuitive, astro-ph, not so much. The following actions will launch the query in your default web browser.

Search ADS for articles in 2009 that include “Cruz, K. L.”. This uses the Basic Search and all the tricks will work, including using a “^” prefix to restrict to first author papers.
Quicksilver ADS Search Screenshot

Search SIMBAD around some coordinates. This uses the Basic Query and will also work for object names (identifiers) and bibcodes.
Quicksilver SIMBAD Search Screenshot

Search astro-ph for articles from 2009 by “K Cruz”. If you want to include a date, it must be first. The AND is also required. If you just wanted to search by author, just the name will do in arxiv search format (first initial first).
Quicksilver Astro-ph Search Screenshoot

Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Install the Web Search Module Plugin

    Quicksilver Install Web Search
  2. Catalog > Custom > Add Web Search List
    Quicksilver add web Search List
  3. Add these into the Source Options of the Web Search List:

    Quicksilver Astro Searches

To get loads of other common queries (Amazon, IMBD, Yelp, etc), go to Catalog > Modules and check Web Searches (from For more details, here’s the post that inspired this one: Searching the Web with Quicksilver. And if you want to take it to a whole ‘nother level (I didn’t): Searching the Web Even Quicker with Quicksilver.

What are your astro-centric uses for Quicksilver?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 saurav May 10, 2011 at 11:09 am

Nice! This might just convince me to get back to QuickSilver for the first time since the days of the Panther.


2 Juan Cabanela May 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm

You can do a similar thing in Alfred if you go to the Custom Searches page and just set up your searches with the URL like those you show, but ‘***’ replaced by ‘{query}’. For the Search text, put a label like ‘ADS search’ and for the ‘keyword’ whatever you want to trigger the search, I used ‘ads’ for ‘ADS search’. Works beautifully.


3 Dan May 10, 2011 at 6:19 pm

For a slightly more sophisticated search, my friend (Jonathan Sick) and I started a little github project that uses JavaScript to parse “author year” searches. It was originally intended for use with Alfred (like Juan mentioned above) but it should work just as well in Quicksilver by using:****
instead of:***&version=1

You can read about it on Jonathan’s blog:
and fork the github project at:


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