Love it or hate, Mac OS X’s Dock comes with every Mac. It’s where we go to open an application or utility, find a document, and get lost.
The Dock has limitations which have spawned plenty of application launchers; some good, some not so. Ready for another? Try Overflow.
QuickSilver has set the tone for a different paradigm for application launchers. The keyboard.
DragThing is my current and long running favorite. Simple, elegant, powerful, always there without a click.
Application launchers are not a dime a dozen. Once we get used to one, switching to another is a challenge.
Challenge yourself to a few hours with Overflow. Elegant, quick, simple, effective, easy to learn and set up and use.
Overflow works like the Command-Tab keystroke combination. What? You don’t use Command-Tab? Try it.
Click Command and Tab. You get a dark, horizontal bar through your screen with the icons of your running applications and utilities.
Uh, oh. See the problem? All you see is what you’ve already got. At least it’s keyboard driven.
Overflow works in a similar manner so it’s easy to master.
Once Overflow is installed a hot key or combination brings it to the front.
Instead of simply displaying applications that are already open and running, Overflow displays a dark box with icons inside.
You determine which icons, from your applications and utilities, go where inside Overflow’s box. To the left is a list of categories.
You define the categories. They could be Office, Apple, Adobe, Utilities, Music, whatever.
Inside each category is space to hold the icons from your respective applications. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Entourage would go in the Office category.
So familiar looking is Overflow that it at first appears on your screen like a Dashboard Widget—without all the other Widgets to clutter up the place.
Overflow just sits there waiting for a keyboard command from you (yes, you can point your mouse at an icon and click, but I’m trying to get you to change your work methods).
The problem I have with DragThing is that I know it, use it, love it, so it’s a challenge to move to something else, even if the something else could be more efficient.
Mac360 readers have long pointed out to me the need to jump into QuickSilver. That’s been too much of a paradigm shift, and who can remember all those keyboard strokes anyway?
If the Mac is about getting things done in an elegant manner, then Overflow typifies that method.
Most of the keystrokes in Overflow are ones you already know. Escape, for example, closes or hides Overflow.
Tab moves forward through your icons. Shift-tab moves through the icons in reverse.
Moving through your list of categories is equally intuitive. Command plus up or down arrow keys moves through the categories.
Click the return key, or the space bar when you’ve selected or tabbed to an icon and it launches. Pretty good, huh?
Setting up Overflow is equally straightforward.
Open Coverflow by hitting whatever hot key you set up. Drag your application or utility icon to Coverflow.
I’ll bet you were thinking this would be difficult, right? That’s pretty much it.
As you’d expect, you can download the trial version and see for yourself. Overflow is pretty slick, elegant, easy to use, and helps to get your hands away from the mouse.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I’ve been using the Mac so long that I’ve developed certain habits, some of them not so good habits. OK, some of them are bad habits. Satisfied?
One of them is refusing to use the keyboard for navigation except tab. It’s easy to reach over, grab the mouse, point and click to get what I want.
It’s instant gratification, but it’s miserably inefficient sometimes.
Overflow lets me work a little faster, adjust to more of a keyboard approach, yet not interfere too much with my ingrained habits—good or bad.
If you don’t use the Dock as your primary launcher for apps, utilities, and documents, what do you use?