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Launchy

Its been awhile since I’ve done one of my computer tip posts. The application I want to talk about today is something that I’ve come to be highly dependent on: Launchy.

Launchy is an application launcher which is run completely by the keyboard. You use a special keystroke combination (on my computer, it’s Windows+Space) and a textbar will popup, whereby you type in stuff and when you hit enter, it will execute your command. It was originally designed (and still functions primarily) as a Start menu replacement program which will index all your icons in your start menu so you never have to go searching for them in the start menu. For instance, instead of going to Start -> Programs -> Google -> Picasa2 -> Picasa, I simply hit Windows+Space and then type “Picasa” and Enter.

Launchy, by virtue of having indexed your files, will also start guessing which entry you want as you type. I only have to type “Pic” and it can already guess that I want to start Picasa. It performs this guesswork by tabulating which programs/entries you call up the most. In my case, I only have to type “f” and it knows I’m looking for Firefox, but if I’m trying to pull up Google Desktop, because I launch Google Talk more often, I have to type out a little further.

But, have no fear. There are two ways Launchy gets around this. The first is that Launchy will accept misspellings and re-orderings of the letters. Therefore, I can type in “Talk” and I will get Google Talk and “Desktop” and I will get Google Desktop. The second way is that if Launchy is not being sufficiently smart, you can always push the down key and Launchy will give a listing of several (up to 10 on mine b/c that’s how I’ve customized it) entries that it thinks you may be interested in.

With this newest version (1.0.3), Launchy has a feature-set which I think makes it an awesome must-have application for the PC:

  1. Start Menu indexing (as mentioned above)
  2. Misspell handling (as mentioned above)
  3. Customization – I’ve set the hotkey to be Windows+Space, but you can choose something else if you want
  4. Skinnability – I’ve skinned mine with “Black Glass” which I think looks pretty awesomem but you can pick from many:
  5. Index all types of files in all sorts of locations – This is where Launchy really starts getting useful. Launchy is fully customizable, so I have had Launchy index all my Microsoft Office files, my pdf’s, all my executable files, all my mp3’s, etc on my Desktop, My Documents, Start Menu, etc. I’ve also had it index directory names in My Documents such that I never have a problem finding files anymore, I just start typing the name of the file and in a few letters, I usually have what I want (this has also made me name my files more obvious and useful names). I can access any mp3 or any jpg or any powerpoint file from anywhere.
  6. Simple Calculator – Not quite as powerful as Google’s calculator, but you can enter simple arithmetic and it performs it for you.
  7. Quick Access to the Web – You can enter URL (requires “http://” if the URL doesn’t start with a “www.”), enter, and it’ll open it in your browser.
  8. Quick Access to Directories – The new version allows you to start typing “C:” and then an action key, tab, to traverse the directory structure on your computer. Thus, to get to my Mozilla Firefox program folder, I type “C:”, Tab, “Pro”, Tab, “Mozill”, Tab, enter.
  9. Indexes your Firefox bookmarks – It indexes your Firefox bookmark names and keywords!
  10. Indexes your Firefox Quick Searches – I’ve posted before on the magic of Firefox Keyword Searches, allowing you to quickly access any search (ie I quicksearch YouTube with “yt ” expression), and now Launchy will index your Quick Searches AND their keywords, meaning that I can now search YouTube by entering, Windows+Space, “yt”, Tab, “Superman Returns trailer”, enter.

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