We all have our own ways of searching the Internet and obtaining information, some of them being faster than others. For example, using the context menu to copy / paste words in the web browser takes a bit more time than using keyboard shortcuts.
Liquid is a menu-bar-based application that aims to improve your web search efficiency through user-defined keyboard shortcuts that work across all applications.
Besides allowing you to quickly search for words / text from any application and on almost any website with only a few key strokes, it also offers fast translation, unit conversion, copying and sharing methods.
The application is available as a Free and Pro ($4.99) edition from the App Store. The free edition doesn't allow you to add custom search engines or to translate text.
We’ve tested the Pro edition: it took a small amount of hard drive space (5.4 MB), put a very small load on the CPU and had a moderate RAM consumption, around 30 MB, though it went up to 100 MB in some cases.
There's nothing out of common about Liquid's look and feel. The main window features a simple and native OS X interface and consists of a search box, a toolbar displaying the search tools and a result area below the toolbar.
All in all, the user interface is intuitive and very easy to work with and allowed us to control the app quite smoothly.
Just like its interface, using Liquid is simple and straightforward. Just select a piece of text in any application, then hit the default CMD + @ (CMD + SHIFT + 2) global shortcut to trigger the main window, or use any other key combination that can be changed from the System Preferences.
We've tried finding other keyboard shortcuts for Liquid, but many of them conflicted with either TextEdit or with our Internet browsers (we’ve run tests on Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari). In the end, CMD + @ seemed like the best choice and it was easy to get used to after a while.
Once the main window is displayed, you can press “C” to convert numbers, “S” to search, “R” to search on reference sites, “T” to translate, “2” to copy text in a number of ways and “E” to share the text using Facebook, Twitter, GMail or your default email client.
Furthermore, after pressing one of these keys, a menu is displayed under each action, allowing you to select the corresponding keyboard shortcut for the unit conversion, search engine etc. that you wish.
Additionally, every keyboard shortcut can be changed from the Preferences window except for the above-mentioned ones. Moreover, the order in which the services are listed can also be changed and you can even set a global hotkey to launch Liquid's window with no text selected (CMD + SHIFT + SPACE by default).
Of course, you can also use your mouse to open Liquid's window (from the menu bar item) and select an action, but that's not as fast as using the keyboard, especially when you know what keys you need to press.
In our tests, searching for text was flawless and websites were opened instantly in every browser. The most important feature regarding the search action is, in our opinion, the ability to add your own search engines from the preferences.
We could easily add over ten other websites to the default ones by following the simple instructions displayed when entering a new search command from the Preferences window. Those who only use certain search engines or online dictionaries will definitely appreciate this.
Moreover, converting units worked as expected, although the currency conversions were not very accurate compared to some popular currency convertors on the web.
Translating text also went smoothly and a total of 32 languages are supported. Although it wasn't any better compared to other web translations, it was displayed instantly, with the possibility to easily copy it as well.
You can further interact with text through several Copy actions. We’ve successfully copied text on a webpage “with link” (which adds the webpage link below the text when you paste it), “as citation” (which adds the webpage link, the date accessed, as well as the domain) and as plain text.
On the downside, copying text with link and as citation only works on Safari and Google Chrome for some reason.
We might also add here that Liquid offers a great way of reading big chunks of text (Copy > Flow) by inserting line breaks where the dot character is found.
However, the Liquid window disappears as soon as you click on other apps and the result area where you can read text is cleared. This makes it difficult to read the text you’ve copied because you might want to switch to another application while doing so. An option to allow the Liquid window to not disappear would, therefore, be an adequate addition.
In some cases, though, the fact that the window automatically disappears is an advantage. For example, when you quickly convert or translate something and copy / paste the result.
The application certainly helped us search the web a bit faster, considering that we could search on basically any website that we liked. We could look up a particular word or phrase in a few keyboard presses. Websites were opened instantly and the conversions and translations were quickly processed.
We could also successfully use our own keyboard shortcuts for the supported actions. In addition, interacting with text in various ways is also an advantage if you are doing research for your paper, for instance.
What bothered us the most was the fact that Liquid's window disappeared when selecting other applications. In other words, if you want to re-check, let’s say, a conversion or translation, then you'd have to do them all over again. Thus, an “Always on top” option would come in rather handy.
Another drawback is that the "Copy with link" and "Copy as citation" actions work only on Google Chrome and Safari. Moreover, the currency conversion was not very accurate.
Liquid did a good job at increasing the search possibilities and efficiency of our Mac. The application provides a very handy web search alternative, although simple methods for quickly searching on Google or other sites of its kind come by default with certain web browsers or TextEdit.
The highlight of Liquid has to be the fact that you can add almost any search engine / website to your "quick look up" list. However, some users might find the unit conversion, translation and copying tools to be more valuable than the search shortcuts.
Here are some snapshots of the application in action: