LaunchBar


LaunchBar
Mac Tip #149/12-May-2004

I use my Mac all day long for dozens if not hundreds of different tasks. Most days I’m likely to do most of these things:

  • email, surf the web and read newsfeeds
  • write documents and tinker with spreadsheets
  • upload files with FTP
  • update my accounts
  • view and edit photos with iView Media Pro, iPhoto, Photoshop and ImageReady
  • read and write text in various applications
  • play Super GameHouse Solitaire

Even though I have a fast Powerbook with lots of RAM I’m constantly starting up and quitting software. I need to open project folders and find files, visit websites and generally “do stuff”.

Fortunately I discovered LaunchBar (US$39 for businesses and US$19.95 for home users; a free version offers limited use).

I’ve set Launchbar to react to my pressing Command-Space. Then to start up Word I type “Word”.

LaunchBar has indexed my hard drive and locates likely suspects. I scroll through the list and press Return when I find Word. That might sound slow, but LaunchBar learns. Next time I type “Word” it suggests Word straight away.

It works similarly with iPhoto, MoneyWorks and all the other software I use. But it gets better. I might not type “Word” next time, but maybe “MS Word”. LaunchBar still finds it.

It works for website addresses I’ve bookmarked, names in my Address Book, email addresses, folders and documents on my hard drive — all kinds of things.

There’s plenty of Help available (though I actually haven’t read it yet) — a good thing with the many capabilities of this skilful program.

I must confess it took me a while to warm up to LaunchBar, especially since I had various other software on my Mac which offered some overlapping functions.

But this one’s a winner.

[Update 2009: I'm still using and loving Launchbar. It's absolutely essential on my Mac, and I'm lost without it.]

I type Command-Space followed by a couple of letters hundreds of times each day, and without even looking up from my keyboard the program, folder or file has opened. I just keep working (or playing Solitaire).

Smooth.

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