This is part of a series on moving from desktop Linux back to Windows.
The first post is here. The previous post is here.
A very long time ago, before I had ever used Mac or Linux for personal computing, someone had convinced me of the value of a “launcher”: a program, usually invoked via
alt-space, that would pop up a box and help you find stuff on your computer, launch programs / scripts, do quickie things like calculations, and otherwise keep your hands on the keyboard and off of the mouse.
At that time, the only game in town for Windows was Launchy.
When I started using a Mac for work, I tried out Spotlight, which is the default Mac launcher, and it felt OK but not even on par with Launchy. I quickly discovered Quicksilver and have stuck with it.
When I moved to Linux a few years ago, I started using Kupfer, though I don’t recall why. It worked just fine, but I was a n00b and had I known about GNOME-Do, I probably would have used that.
When I moved back to Windows, one of the first things I did was look for the current state of launchers on Windows. And, to my surprise, it seems that Launchy is still a favorite. Here’s what it looks like, exactly the same as it did in 2009:
Why not just the
win key is fine as an application launcher. It’s easy, fast, and just works.
What I like about Launchy, though, is that it also makes it easier to navigate the file system quickly. For example, let’s say I keep all my code in
c:\dev\projects. If I want to navigate to that natively, I could hit the
win key and then type
c:\dev\projects. Or I could open up explorer and point-and-click to it.
But with Launchy, it’s as easy as
This is possible because Launchy lets you configure where it looks for stuff. In the case above, I can configure launch to catalog files or folders in a certain location:
Finally, Launchy includes a catalog of plugins and comes with some useful defaults. For example, I often need to so simple-ish calculations, and Launchy makes that really easy thanks to the Calc plugin:
This is all certainly not life-changing, earth-shattering stuff. But I spend a lot of time on a computer, and pointing-and-clicking all day long is inefficient and unenjoyable. I like tiny time-saving, joy-boosting things, and a launcher like Launchy serves nicely.
Next post: Multiple terminal windows with ConEmu
2 thoughts on “Goin’ back to Windows: Launchy”
I did a whole talk on tools like that at cfO and cfUnited years ago so it may have been me 🙂 http://thecrumb.com/2008/01/04/developer-toolbox-application-launcher/
2008! I feel old.
On Windows I like Find & Run Robot for a launcher but they are all very similar. Next you need a good clipboard utility – for that I recommend CopyQ (https://hluk.github.io/CopyQ/)
if that’s all it did, well and good, useful. I combine it with lots of shortcuts, scripts, Web fu and command line stuff (Runner plugin) and it does a lot for me without lifting my hands from the keyboard. I feel about this use of Launchy the way some feel about the command line itself–so enthusiastic it sometimes comes across as preachy.
For example, I have a plain text file called scratchpad that I use like a physical scratchpad, to scrawl down quick thoughts or phone numbers or whatever. I have a launchy scratchpad command (which invokes a pretty simple script) so that I can type ALT-SPACE (invokes Launchy), scratchpad TAB RETURN. Launchy disappears, and I have just prepended to my scratchpad.txt file, along with a time and date stamp.
Same thing for a journal.txt file, for recording what I’m doing with my time.
I use Outlook to manage my calendar and contacts,tasks, and meeting notes (using the Outlook Journal feature), as well as email. For each of the 5 categories (calendar, contacts, tasks, notes, email) I have scripts that:
1. creates a new item
2. opens the respective window
3. searches within that catgory, e.g.
FindContact (this one takes a search term as an argument after the TAB)
I’ve been using Launchy for 10 years and keep finding new ways to make it useful