Access Anything In Seconds with Launcher

You’ve no doubt heard about quick-launcher apps, they are utilities that are triggered by a keyboard shortcut and that let you do things like open apps or files a lot faster than if you did so by going into the menus. You just have to trigger the bar, type in what you are looking for and press enter. The great thing is that it works for so many more things than launching apps.

The app that we are reviewing today is one of these utilities and it’s called, of all things, Launcher. Come take a look at what it has to offer!

Getting Started

Getting Started

Getting Started

The first time you open Launcher, you’ll be shown two things: One is the settings screen, where you can change the shortcut for making the app show up and also add or delete the commands or shortcuts with which the app will behave, we’ll get to them later.

The other thing you’ll see is the launcher bar and some text showing you what you can do with Launcher. This help screen will always be available if you type in “help” or if you click the “?” sign next to the bar. In it you are shown a few examples of what Launcher can do for you, like look up words in the dictionary.

What Can You Do With It?

Launching apps

Launching apps

Other than the basic commands, you can also do the usual stuff that Spotlight can do. You can use it as a calculator, and it will handle all sorts of functions or parenthesis that you want to throw to it. You can use it as a very fast dictionary by just typing any word, or you can use it to open a URL quickly by typing it in.

You can also, of course, use it to quickly launch apps. For me, it had some problems indexing my applications at the beginning, but it all worked out fine once I went into the settings and chose the “Index Now” option. It works like any other launcher, just start typing and it will guess which app you are thinking about. Just press enter and that app will open.

Commands and Shortcuts

New Commands

New Commands

If you aren’t familiar with quick-launcher apps, the commands are the shortcuts that you can use to make a few things launch even quicker. For example, one of the default commands in the app is “g” for google. So, if you launch the quick-launcher and type in “g” followed by a word, your browser will be launched and it will automatically search google for that word.

Adding new commands is, thankfully, really easy and fast. Just press the “+” button on the settings and you’ll be shown a few fields that you need to fill in. The first one is the Command that Launcher will respond to, this should be short and easy to remember, like “g” for “Google”.

The second field is a drop-down menu where you can choose what kind of task the command will do. “Search” is basically used if you want to add a new search engine to the commands, like YouTube. “Application,” “URL” and “Open File/Folder” are all for opening any of those with a simple command. “System” is interesting because it lets you do things like play, pause, mute, start the screensaver or put the computer to sleep with commands. “Script” is the most complicated and technical one, but it is used to add more customization to your commands, like the premade “Say” that is used to make the computer speak something.

Why Choose This Over Spotlight?

Spotlight

Spotlight

Spotlight is in itself, a quick-launcher. Although it lacks a bit on the “quick” side. In my computer, Spotlight works very slowly, you can’t really achieve the same pace that you can with other third party apps. You also can’t deny the advantage of the commands available in Launcher, and being able to create your own. 

There’s also some small details that make it very much worth your time. For example, if you use it as a calculator to do an operation, you can press enter and the result will be copied to your clipboard. And, let’s not forget that you can access websites in your browser from within the app, something that you can’t really do with Spotlight.

Launcher Compared with Alfred

Alfred

Alfred

Alfred is probably the most popular quick-launcher app, but Launcher is a good competitor. The first thing I noticed about Launcher is that it is simpler and more basic than Alfred. I feel Alfred is a bit more technical and complicated than Launcher, altough that doesn’t necessarily make it a complex app. It just has way more settings to tweak, which can make it a bit confusing. I know it put me off the first time I tried to use it, I actually stopped using it for a while because of it.

Launcher occasionally has some glitches and stuff like that, which prevents it from being better than Alfred. It also has fewer settings, like I said before. In Launcher, you can’t, for example, select which keyboard layout to use or which country’s search engines to use. Going into the settings of Alfred can get overwhelming and confusing for new users, so I guess a simpler app like Launcher would be good for a newcomer to the quick-launcher market.

Conclusion

I’d never gotten into a quick-launcher app before. I tried Alfred one day, but after seeing all the settings that I had to tweak (I always, always tweak the settings) I got turned off by it and decided to uninstall it. Until now, I hadn’t given it another try, but Launcher did a great job at putting simply all the advantages that one of these apps can have, and also of making the setup process easy and painless.

Yes, Alfred is very popular and it has everything you need, but for some users it perhaps has too much. There isn’t a about Launcher to get overwhelmed by, it has only the settings that you really need, and nothing else.


Summary

Launcher is a simple and well put quick-launcher app. It may not have a bunch of features and settings, but it does just what it should.

9
  • Christian Saborío

    Launchbar is better than Alfred & Quicksilver, incredibly fast, and rarely mentioned. I recommend you explore LB and post a full review, it’s very intuitive IMHO.

    • Matt

      Yeah, I totally agree. Quicksilver’s verb/noun stuff never quite clicked for me, but when a friend recommended Launchbar I found it much easier to use. Alfred is visually a little prettier, but otherwise doesn’t offer much over Launchbar.

      One big advantage of Launchbar is the fantastic abbreviation searching. You can use any subsequent letters to search in Launchbar, so it makes it faster to find your apps by just typing their initials or other shortened version of the name. E.g. “td” could bring up “TweetDeck” and “pg” would find “Pages”.

      Of course, each may appeal to different people, but Launchbar is a solid app that deserves some attention.

  • WPHead

    I really like Alfred, but I’m going to give Launcher a try. About the settings in Alfred though, you don’t really have to tweak anything, it works perfectly fine (or at least for me) without changing any of the settings.

  • http://twitter.com/misterparker Alex

    Not to throw the turd in the pool, but Alfred ftw. I didn’t have to configure anything for alfred to be awesome. And alfred is just sexy (+1).

    • Alf Nielsen

      Fully agree. (+1)

  • Jo

    I’m using NuKit from the same dev which includes Launcher and quite like it. Easy to use, quick and reliable.

    However, one thing I haven’t been able to figure out is how to add a specific search engine in the list of search engines that is being provided when choosing the ‘search’ command, e.g. let’s say I wanted to add http://s1-eu2.ixquick.com/ instead of the given ones like Google, Youtube, WikiPedia, Yahoo, Bing and the likes.

    I checked the Application Support and Preference folders in the users library but couldn’t find anything related.

    Anyone an idea?

    • http://nulana.com Natalya

      You can add any search engine using “Open URL” command type.

  • Tom

    Thanks for the review!

    I like the playing track notifications on the desktop. How did you achieved that? Is it a bowtie-theme?

    • http://ilya.laktyush.in Ilya

      Yeah, it’s Bowtie with one of the themes you can find right inside it in it’s themes library.
      I use it but can’t tell it’s name ’cause Bowtie doesn’t respond to mouse clicks after upgrading to Lion and I can’t get to it’s preferences.

    • http://about.me/jorgerdz Jorge Rodriguez

      Yeah, I think it’s a default theme in Bowtie. Don’t know the name, though.

  • http://pinoyteens.net Kevin Paquet

    I’m more than happy with “cmd + spacebar” and “Pinch with Thumb and 3 Fingers”

  • sean

    I have to agree that Launchbar is really phenomenal. Not much point in using anything else.

  • http://jshawl.com Jesse

    Can someone please tell me which app displays the current playing music on the desktop in the lower right hand corner of these photos? Looks sweet!

    • Gui

      It’s a command of GeekTool app.

    • http://about.me/jorgerdz Jorge Rodriguez

      It’s actually an app called Bowtie. Truly great app.

  • MJunior

    Does anyone knows how to prevent Parallels results from appearing on Launcher results? Thanks in advance!

    • Brendan

      I am pretty sure both Alfred and Launcher use the Spotlight results. So if you block your Parallels Apps with spotlight it should block it in Launcher also…

      However I could be completely wrong, can someone correct me if I am?

      • MJunior

        It worked! Thanks a lot!

  • Christian

    Have been using Alfred for a few months now and love it. The dock is now hidden and hardly used.

    Launchbar could well be better, but the price of admission is too high in my opinion. I’ll give the trial a go, but it will have to be miles better to make the switch.

    • Matt

      Same.

  • Scott C.

    Just out of curiosity, what do you do when you have 240 items in Applications folder and you can’t/don’t want to remember every single names of those apps? I’ve been struggling to figure out the best way to deal with that myself. Sure, I could spend the next hour trying to rearrange icons in LaunchPad but that’s just utter waste of my time. I could use Spotlight or one of these keyboard-based launcher but there are many apps that I use only occasionally but still need to keep around. When I run into one of those, I’m lost at that point and here goes Applications folder browsing, which wastes my time tremendously.

    I have the same exact problem on my iPhone as well. Simply put, today’s computing UI sucks and there is no good solution for it.

    • L N

      Alfred has “fuzzy matching”, which should help if you can’t remember full app names: http://help.alfredapp.com/launchapplications/

    • Charles

      LaunchBar also has fuzzy matching. In my case, I also use DragThing (http://www.dragthing.com/) to keep less frequently used applications. It’s a matter of preference, but for me I find it convenient to have multiple options to launch stuff to accommodate various launching scenarios.

      I have about 300 apps and I have no trouble locating them using the above approach.

  • bubububaka

    I’ve removed default hdd and set up ssd, after that spotlight start working much faster and I don’t use Alfred anymore.

  • http://streamlog.net Guillaume

    Sure it’s great but… how do you actually perform an internal search inside your hard drive… which is the basic feature of Spotlight ? i tried creating app script in automator but this would not work…

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