Launchbar saves your fingers from the walking


Launchbar saves your fingers from the walking
Quick Mac Tip, 16 January 2011

I hate having to click around to open files, folders and software. With Launchbar I type a couple of letters and the thing I need just opens right up. Using someone else’s Mac always makes me realise just how incredibly convenient that is.

Launchbar finds and opens files

Launchbar (€24, approx US$30) saves me from having to know where I’ve filed things, and from rummaging around in endless folders to open applications, files and folders.

Launchbar learns as you use it.

Launchbar learns as you use it.

LaunchBar is a smart and powerful, keyboard driven productivity utility that lets you access and control every aspect of your digital life. Whatever you want to get done on your Mac — with LaunchBar it’s only a few keystrokes away.

Get instant access to applications, documents, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, media libraries, search engines and so much more — just by typing short abbreviations.

It’s a file manager, a web and desktop search tool, an app launcher, a clipboard manager, a jukebox, a calculator, an information browser, … or quite simply a tremendous time saver!

My filing system’s reasonably good, but it’s painful to dig around to open files. With Launchbar a couple of keystrokes that I decide open whatever I need.

You have to train it. The first time you try to open something Launchbar may select the wrong item. But as you persist it soon learns what you want.

I’ve set the trigger keys to Command (⌘) Space.

Then if I type add Launchbar offers to open the Address Book. Or I can press a couple more keys to look inside the Address Book, without opening it, and find the phone number I want.

Read more at: Launchbar.

Or I might type baloo to open a file named balances.oo3 or ap to choose between Airport Utility, Aperture, Audio Hijack Pro and AppleScript Editor, each of which I use frequently.

Because it learns, you need to invest a little time in Launchbar, but it repays the investment handsomely.

Launchbar handles multiple copy and paste

Launchbar clipboard history.

Launchbar clipboard history. These are a few of the things I copied and pasted while writing this post.

A bonus feature of Launchbar is that it offers multiple copy and paste: it remembers the last 40 items (or fewer — you choose) items you’ve cut or copied.

A quick keystroke calls up the clipboard history, then use the arrow keys and Return or just double click an item to use it again.

There are probably plenty of features Apple should incorporate into the Operating System, but multiple clipboards must be the most puzzling omission ever.

What’s your experience with Launchbar? Tell us in the Comments. Could you write a guest MacTip? If so, contact me.

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8 Comments

  1. Joe Pa3 said:

    Mac bloggers must have LaunchBar on the brain this year. I recently wrote up an article – 50 ways to use LaunchBar on Learning OS X:
    http://www.learningosx.com/50-killer-ways-to-work-faster-with-launchbar/

    This program is *well* worth the money. It’s one of this applications that is completely transparent. When you need it LaunchBar is there to help you, when you don’t it stays out of the way.

    Most of the things I like about LaunchBar have nothing to do with it’s ability to launch applications. For example I can control iTunes. I like that I can play/pause/mute/unmute without ever having my hands lift off the keyboard.

    Great post on a great app.

  2. Graham Hind said:

    I’d say Launchbar was one of three programs I would always add to a Mac (1 Password and Textexpander are the other two) in terms of added usability it’s the most important of the three. Can’t imagine life without it! I do notice though that ‘Alfred’ looks a better deal for folks who don’t want the extra power of Launchbar.

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Thanks, Graham. My ranking was slightly different: 1Password, then TextExpander then Launchbar, but we agree on the top 3.

      • Miraz Jordan said:

        Thanks Mike. Since we haven’t mentioned Alfred here, perhaps you could explain how it compares with Launchbar. What made you choose Alfred over Launchbar. Note: I haven’t used Alfred so I have no points of comparison.

        • Mike Birch said:

          I haven’t used Launchbar. I used to use Quicksilver, but I like Alfred because it’s a small download, doesn’t use much RAM, is fast, and best of all, is free. You can pay for extra features, but the free version does everything I need. I mainly use it to launch or switch apps. Calculations are useful and because you see what you’ve typed, you can check the input for errors.

          • Miraz Jordan said:

            That’s great, thanks.

            I mainly use Launchbar to launch files or apps. I also like doing the quick calculations in Launchbar – very handy.

    • Joe Pa3 said:

      I know and love 1Password too. I’m not familiar with textexpander. Time to start googling…

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