Mac users seem to come in two distinct flavors. The point and click crowd, and the improvement crowd. The former flavor of Mac user simply uses the Mac and adds only those specific applications required to do a job.
They don’t worry much about how to improve their Mac experience because it’s already a better form of computing. The improvement crowd constantly searches for a better user experience, always on the look out for a new tool, a faster way, any utility that makes a job better or easier. They scoff at the Dock, laugh at the Finder.
The User Experience
Mac users of all flavors know their computing experience is already an improvement over Windows PCs.
The improvement crowd are not content with the status quo—even a Mac status quo. These Mac users choose a different file and application launcher, beyond the Dock and Finder.
If you’ve been a Mac user for awhile and you want to enhance your day-to-day experience, then remember it’s perfectly acceptable to try different tools, utilities, applications in your quest for a better way.
Your quest may lead you to LaunchBar 5.
One App For All Apps
New on my list of ultimate tools is LaunchBar. Forget point and click. LaunchBar is for the Mac power user who accepts no compromise, knows the keyboard’s shortcuts better than whiskey knows a good time.
LaunchBar is billed as a multi-purpose utility whose single purpose is to do more with fewer keystrokes, less mousing, less pointing, and a minimum of clicks. It’s a file manager with more tricks than the Finder.
It’s an instant application or file launcher yet searches for files instantly. LaunchBar is even a clipboard manager that also manages your Mac’s iTunes.
Can You Already Do All That LaunchBar Does?
The answer is, probably not. From within LaunchBar, using just the keyboard, you can check your clipboard’s history (5), create events and to-do items for iCal (4), preview any file using Quick Look (3), check and edit Address Book items and more.
If you’re a somewhat, sometime Mac power user, you know the advantages of iCal. LaunchBar lets you manage your calendars without digging into iCal.
Keyboard shortcuts are customizable for different functions and different modifier keys. That means you can control file and app launches by keystrokes you define. Ditto for Spotlight searches, invoking the built-in calculator and clipboard history.
Calculator? Yes. LaunchBar’s calculator (2) goes way beyond your Mac’s free calculator with scientific calculations, trigonometric modes, extensible via custom macros. Not bad for an add on feature that’s built in.
File This, Please!
If the Finder leaves you confused, LaunchBar is not for you. If the Finder leaves you wanting more, LaunchBar is perfect for you. Many Finder operations can be assigned to LaunchBar’s file operations, including moving, copying, replacing, browsing, and renaming.
LaunchBar can index OS X’s Services, which gives you an instant access to the Services menu from within LaunchBar and via keystroke combinations you assign. Even iPhoto Events can be indexed for faster searches.
This is not your father’s Dock. It’s a powerful, keystroke driven tool with remarkable flexibility and capability built in—including a variety of actions from zipping up and archiving files to quitting open applications (1). LaunchBar loves AppleScript.
Caveats? A few. Well, more than a few. LaunchBar is not as easy to learn as DragThing, though more capable. The initial set up isn’t much, though the learning curve is fully based on your ability to remember a lot of specific keystrokes (fortunately, you choose the keystrokes) and combinations.
There is so much going on under the LaunchBar hood that it’s easy to miss good features, and takes awhile to figure out how to use the rest. To buy or not to buy? That is the question. If you’re bored with the Dock and encumbered with the Finder and in search of more, LaunchBar delivers more. But it’s not for every Mac user.