You can tell things are going well for the Mac by the number of superbly crafted tools that do everything that’s already being done.
Take Mac launchers; those organizers and launchers for Mac’s applications. How many are there? Dozens.
Some are free, some are impossible to figure out, some cost money, some you can’t live without.
Still, Mac software developers continue to come up with new ways to do what the Dock already does—launch applications.
The Mac’s resurging success and growing stack of applications and utilities is causing the Dock to grow old and cumbersome. Why? Too many applications. Too many utilities.
Too many of anything crowds the limited real estate on the Dock, causing the icons to perform a digital version of The Incredible Shrinking Icon.
The Mac360 favorite tool for managing applications, utilities, and documents is the highly popular DragThing. If there’s a better tool for managing and launching Mac applications, we don’t know what it is.
However, diversity is an important component of a “personal computer” and the Mac is, arguably, the most personal of all computers.
Recent favorites include Overflow and Quicksilver, two very capable launchers with totally different metaphors for launching. Both are keyboard driven, which makes access handy, the former is visual, the latter more cerebral.
A quick search of “launcher” on MacUpdate delivers dozens of Mac tools to manage your growing list of Mac applications. That presents the Mac user with two problems.
The first is the growing list of Mac applications. That’s why the Dock gets full so fast. Apple supplies more than enough applications and utilities to fill the Dock.
Add a few favorites here and there, Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, and you need another Dock. Or two.
The second problem is finding a suitably easy way to manage all those applications and utilities without constant trips through Folder Clicking Hell to find something.
One utility that caught the collective eye of Mac360’s team of resident clickers, is the Valet launcher, which bills itself as “near zero configuration.”
See, the problem with most new tools, even those perhaps vastly superior to what we already use, or an improvement over the Dock, is the time it takes to set it up, get used to it, configure it appropriately, and so on. That’s often a painful process.
Valet doesn’t wait around for you to figure out how to use it, and find the applications or utilities you want it to launch. Valet searches your Mac and finds them for you.
Mac OS X has become a breeding ground for new thinking, and Mac software developers are taking Apple’s cue and thinking different. Valet has voice control. Valet has a full screen launcher called Heads-up. Valet has a menu. You choose.
Valet even accesses Microsoft Windows applications via the popular Parallels utility which runs Windows on Intel-based Macs. How’s that for diversity?
The Heads-up component looks like Dashboard, except the Widgets are replaced by application icons. Valet is fast, straightforward, and different.
The same can be said of Overflow and Quicksilver. Effort up front yields less effort later. Valete requires little effort up front, but not much more effort later.
Voice commands to launch applications? That’s just creepy, though I can imagine a day when we communicate verbally with our Macs. Windows users communicate verbally with their machines far more than Mac users.
Is Valet worthy enough to hit the Top 5 List of launchers? The metaphor is different, the set up is easy, the price tag is modest.
Beyond the Dock, what do you use to manage the growing list of utilities and applications on your Mac? What tool works best for you and why? Which tools should be avoided at all costs? Share your perspective in the Comments section below.