Jump: A Visual Application Launcher for OS X

An application launcher is something that a lot of Mac users won’t really worry about. After all, Apple was nice enough to include a handy little launcher (the Dock) with their OS. It’s pretty flexible and fairly feature rich. Why even look for an alternative? Because there are a lot of better alternatives out there. Let’s take a look at one.

Jump aims to solve some problems you probably didn’t know you even had. I have to say I thought I’d just grab the free version, check it out for a few days and be done with it in a week. That’s actually quite the opposite of what happened. Read on for the scoop.

Overview

So what is Jump all about? It’s a good question, and one I was asking up until I started to actually use the software. Jump is a launcher in its simplest form. It allows you to launch applications, folders, documents, etc. very quickly.

Download and Install

The installation of Jump is quick and simple. A download of the trial version right from the product page is about as easy as it gets. It’s a fairly light piece of software so from download to using it was literally a matter of seconds. The trial version does restrict the application to 3 categories and 10 applications/folders/documents. It’s plenty to get a taste of Jump.

Jump can be activated by a shortcut key (set by you) or a quick launch button (placed where you want it) or both. These can be easily changed in the preferences. I found it best have both options active, although after a few days I found myself using the shortcut method a lot more. It’s far quicker.

The Tiny Launch Button

The Tiny Launch Button

User Interface and App Usage

Jump has a simple, clean design. This works well given what the tool is designed to do. The application icons are brought to the front of the design making them easy to pick out and quick to launch.

A common “X” button in the upper left hand corner closes Jumper (can also press the shortcut key again). A small button in the lower right hand corner brings up a series of options. Here all of the applications of a category can be launched, categories can be edited, and the preferences can be opened.

Jump user interface

Jump user interface

The categories are pinned along the left hand side of the main palette in a slightly smaller box. It is possible to turn these off if you chose to not use categories and just have one large group. There is also a small, familiar looking search box at the top of the palette.

The size of the actual palette and the size of the icons is down to user preference as well. Available configurations are icons sized 64×64 px, 128×128 px, or 256×256 px with either 8, 16, 32, or 64 icons per page. As you can see the layout is pretty flexible, but keep in mind that some combinations may not be available depending on your screen resolution.

All the while you’re trying out different configurations, an example of the current settings will display right within the preferences window.

The Dock is a part of Mac OS X and is nice application launcher, but very limited in its organization (there isn’t any). With Jump you are able to organize an unlimited number of applications in an unlimited number of categories and essentially launch them in a similar fashion as you would with the Dock. This is really the essence of the software.

Let’s think about the possibilities here for a second. Say you’re a web developer. You’ve got a core set of tools that you use on almost every project. Those could be organized into say a “Web Workspace” category. With Jump open and that category selected you’ll see only those applications.

It is even possible to launch all applications in a category all at once. It requires a couple clicks of the mouse, but overall isn’t too tough. It’s a handy little feature and hopefully it will become quicker (maybe via a shortcut key preference setting) in future releases.

Preferences

The preferences in a utility type application are a very important feature. Jump is a fairly basic application, but it does offer a pretty wide array of preference options to allow you to fine tune the tool to fit your needs.

To be honest, some settings seem rather pointless, but others could certainly be very useful depending on how you want to use the tool. Let’s take a closer look:

First of all, the preferences can always be reached via a small button on the bottom right-hand corner of the interface at all times.

System preferences window

System preferences window

Enable the option to launch Jump after login and to always display Jump in front of other windows. Then set your Dock preference to hide. Now Jump is ready to be your primary application launcher and the Dock is still down there if you ever need it

The background of the Jump palette can be changed in the preferences as well. I went through all of the available options and will just tell you to not waste your time. This is purely my opinion, but I think the default Slate background is by far the best.

They’re not all horrible – and I suppose a lot of it has to do with personal taste – but some of them did remind me of desktop background options on my parent’s Packard Bell PC (rocking Windows 95).

Peformance and Functionality

Jump loads quickly. If it isn’t set to load on log in, you may notice it open a little slower the first time it is launched each session. After that it is very snappy to open and close.

Adding applications/folders/documents/etc. to the palette is as easy as clicking anywhere within the palette. A finder window opens for you to chose what you’d like to add. Hovering you cursor over an application on the palette will display a small “X” next to the application. This will remove it from the launcher. A right click option is also available if you so chose.

Using a keyboard shortcut to launch Jump is easy to slide right into your normal Mac use. After so much time using the Dock or another launcher it may take some getting used to Jump, but I will say that a transition to a more visual launcher (like Jump) will be easier to handle than a move to something like QuickSilver. You’ll have Jump mastered in a matter of minutes.

Comparison

There are other application launchers out there, although I’m not sure there are any that are quite like Jump. Jump differentiates itself from most others in that it is a point and click launcher. It’s a visual experience, and relies on a mouse click to launch an application (like the Dock).

QuickSilver is a different well known application launcher for Mac. Though it does launch applications, it is a lot more complicated and does many other things as well. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on exactly what you’re looking to get out of it.

Pricing

A full version Jump license will run you $24.14 (19.00€). Multiple license discounts are available as well. With some viable options in the application launcher field being free, the cost may seem a bit steep. It does come with updates for life and free technical support.

Though it is a simple piece of software, if you think about how integral it could become to your normal everyday usage the cost seems pretty justifiable. If you’re curious about it, try out the trial version. It will give you enough of a feel to see if it is something that will work for you.

Conclusion

Jump is not a sexy piece of software. It’s a utility and a very useful one at that. There are so many good applications available, it’s often easy to get overloaded. A launcher with the ability to organize as Jump does becomes incredibly helpful.

Simplicity makes the application more efficient while the preferences offer just enough room for customization. Some would say that it isn’t robust enough, or that it is too mouse dependent. I’m an organizational nerd who loves minimalist style and remembers icons better than names – so Jump suites me quite well.

The application succeeds exactly where it intends. A better way to launch applications.


Summary

Jump is a visual application launcher that makes it easy to organize all the software you have on your system. Launched by a keyboard shortcut or mouse click, it's an easy way to visually launch any software on your system in a few seconds.

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  • http://log.tuananh.ws Tuan Anh Tran

    this reminds me of Ubuntu Unity shell for netbook. Very useful for small screen estate devices.

  • Brian Burns

    Ew!

  • http://mcculloughdesign.com Dan

    Looks like a big, fancy version of Overflow

    • bioadam

      Actually looks like a little, fancy version of Overflow, which I love and to fair, I already own it. There’s room for competition in the app launching market.

  • Brandon Pierce

    How is this different from Overflow, which has been around for quite a while already? (http://stuntsoftware.com/overflow/) Looks like pretty much the same thing to me.

  • Rob Weber

    A similar app is Overflow from long ago…

    http://stuntsoftware.com/overflow/

  • Rob Weber

    Wow, in the time I was typing my response, two other people had posted a comment about Overflow, as well… Ha!

  • http://illogicdesign.com Seth Etter

    Looks great, honestly. But I don’t know if I would spend $25 on it when Quick Silver does the job just fine. I use the keyboard shortcut to launch applications and have a separate shortcut for things like iTunes songs and whatnot.

    But whatever I need to access on my computer can be done from the keyboard with QS. Avoiding the mouse is always a good thing in my eyes. I think I’ll be sticking with QS this time.

  • http://illogicdesign.com Seth Etter

    Wow, I had never seen overflow before, but this does look like quite a rip from that. If Jump is newer, then I’d definitely believe they did took some “inspiration” form overflow. Weird.

    • app4mac

      Jump existed before Overflow. We purchased the source code from a french developer. Just for information.

  • http://www.macseoblog.de Florian

    May be a silly question, but can you tell me where to find your desktop wallpaper? i love it :-) thx

  • Random

    Nice app and review, but where did you find that desktop background? I want it!

  • thomas

    isnt this a massive price for such a relatively simple application that doesnt do anything better than launchbar (which is the same price)?

    • app4mac

      Thanks to see our answer in comments about the price.

  • Targoran
  • KDog

    I’d love to see a comprehensive showdown of all the Mac launchers, including things like web integration, URL shortening, clipboard management, etc.

  • Paulyboy

    Another satisfied Overflow user here. I think I remember getting Overflow in a MacHeist bundle a while back and I use it every day. Jump looks equally useful but it does look like more or less a clone of Overflow.

  • http://www.damnsemicolon.com Skye

    People seriously pay money for this?? I can do the exact same thing (minus visual effects) in the dock using alias folders.

    Create any category folders you want (I use apps, web, utilities, games, docs). Now drag all those folders into your dock. Go to your applications/docs/etc folder and cmd-option drag (creates alias) the application into the folder of choice in the dock. All the apps and docs I use on a regular basis go into one of these folders. I use list view on the folder so it loads faster (Right click on dock folder -> View content as list). Now I can access all my apps in 2 clicks.

    • http://www.handlungsplan.net to

      Same here…

    • http://nataliaventre.com Natalia Ventre

      That’s exactly what I was thinking while reading the article.

    • app4mac

      Some people like to organize their stuff in a visual ways, some like to use keyboard shortcuts, some like to use spotlight, you need to accept that some people think differently than you.

      • Justin

        How are Stack Folders not a visual way of organizing stuff? They even have nice visual effects, with animation and translucent background blur. I don’t understand how comparing their functionality to that of Jump is somehow a failure to accept that people think differently.

  • http://pinoyteens.net Kevin Paquet

    An app launcher? Uh, I think I’m happy with my Cmd+SpaceBar shortcut to launch apps via Spotlight. ^^,

    • Rizky Syazuli

      same here.. Spotlight rules!

  • app4mac

    About the price : our prices are based in Euros and the dollar is very weak at this time. Plus, all updates are FREE for lifetime. So the price cannot be really compared to other apps.

  • iCooper

    This is a visual launcher like the one I use: Berokyo (http://www.berokyo.com). I personally prefer Berokyo because it looks much better and it’s cheaper :-)

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  • Thomas

    Same here: Spotlight and Quicksilver rock!

  • Jon

    Surprised that out of mentions of Quicksilver and Spotlight as app launchers no one mentioned Alfred. http://www.alfredapp.com. Been using it almost a year and it’s amazing for quick finds and launching of apps.

  • dev

    u mad people. ALFRED. ALFREEED

  • Christian

    QuickPick does it for me.

    http://www.araelium.com/quickpick/

  • http://kwidoo.eu/Informacje_o_pozycjonowaniu/214/ tworzenie stron www piła

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