As I’ve mentioned in other articles, when looking for new utilities for my computer, one type always manages to come to the front: time savers. I love finding programs that don’t necessarily allow me to do something completely new, but those that let me do something a whole lot faster than I could before.
In this article, I’ll be talking about a free program for Windows called Launchy. Launchy, as you can probably guess from the name, is a program (and document) launcher. If you’ve ever seen the program Quicksilver (for Mac OS X), then you’ll be familiar with how Launchy works.
Simply put, Launchy allows the user to start up programs using only the keyboard. There is no longer a need to be mousing over to the start menu, then clicking to see all applications (if the application you want isn’t one of your favorites), then navigating through a few folders just to find what you want. With Launchy, starting up a program is as simple as hitting the trigger (a key combination that brings up Launchy’s main interface). Once you see the main interface, simply start typing the name of the program you want to start, and Launchy will quickly go through its database and find it. Once you see that Launchy has found the correct program, simply hit the Enter key and Launchy will start it up for you.
How does Launchy work? By default, Launchy is set up to go through your Start Menu, looking for program links. If you want, you can set it up to search addition directories, and find additional file extensions. So with just a few clicks of the mouse, you can have Launchy set up to search through your music, documents and pictures folders, and set to find .jpg, .mp3 and .doc file extensions, allowing you, with just a couple keystrokes, to find practically any program and any document on your computer!
What about those times when there are more than one correct “answer” to what you start typing? For instance, I have Microsoft Office installed, so when I start typing “Microsoft,” I see all the Office programs available. The first time I did this, Microsoft Excel was listed as the top result, but I wanted to start Microsoft Word. Launchy took note of this, and the next time I used Launchy and typed in “Microsoft,” I found that Microsoft Word was the top result. I haven’t experimented enough to know how far this goes (what if I pick Excel three times and Word twice?), so I don’t know if it’s simply putting as the top result the program I chose last time, but it definitely adapts.
As you can see from the screen shots provided, Launchy has a nice, semi-transparent bevel interface, but if you want something a bit more exotic, that is easily accomplished. Hit the key combination to bring up Launchy, and then right click somewhere on the window. You’ll get a drop-down menu with several options, among them the chance to change Launchy’s skin. There are a dozen to choose from, and many more can be found on the Internet.
As mentioned, Launchy is completely free. I highly recommend giving it a try. Use it for a few days. Programs like Launchy and Quicksilver have completely changed how I go about launching programs. It makes my computing life faster and much more convenient, and that’s exactly what I want! Launchy gets a big recommendation from me. Try it… you’ll like it!