How many ways can you launch a Mac app? As our use of applications has grown– Apple gives Mac users everything from Mail to Safari to Terminal.app– the Dock’s ability to handle them all with elegance has diminished.
That means many Mac users look elsewhere for ways to launch apps with more precision and convenience. No, it won’t be the Finder. It’s just too cumbersome to dig into the Applications folder, find what you want, and double click to launch. Instead, use Launch Bar.
What I want in a Mac app launcher is simple. Customization. Convenience. That means I can set up how I launch which applications, and launching them is just a click. The Dock does that already so what does Launch Bar do better?
How about some promotional chatter?
Launch apps and open files with just one click in the system menu bar. Quickly browse folders without leaving a trail of opened windows. Customize the bar by adding your favorite apps, files and folders as icons or menu items. Launch Bar eases and speeds up your workflow, by combining the most essential features of Finder, Dock and Launchpad
OK, allow me a moment to dissect those options.
Because Launch Bar lives in the Mac’s Menubar it is about as convenient as you can get. Click the app icon in the Menubar. The app opens. Good. No complaints. You can also drop Mac app icons into the Menubar itself. Click, the app opens. Good again, and no complaints… except… if you have many apps to use then the Menubar gets crowded very quickly.
OK, Launch Bar has a solution of sorts to the growing trend of a Mac Menubar with no more room for utilities. Folders. Launch Bar installs with a few default settings, including the Applications folder and the Utilities folder already in the Menubar. One click to either one lists a bunch of applications and the ability to select and open any app in any folder within the folders.
That’s good… except… I’m not your average Mac user, and thanks to far too many apps I’ve reviewed recently that have yet to be deleted, my Applications folder is packed, and Launch Bar takes a second or so to open, but that’s a nit not likely to happen to most Mac users.
Launch Bar lets you hide the Dock so you gain more screen real estate. It lets you browse through folders on your Mac without using the Finder. And, there’s an option to copy apps and folders from your Dock to the Launch Bar in the Menubar.
I love all those folders.
You also get a bunch of keyboard shortcut options which make opening apps easier for Mac power users who prefer the keyboard to trackpad or mouse.
LaunchBar is an absolute bargain at 99-cents and it works well right out of the digital box (so to speak). The first issue is how crowded favorite app icons will make the Menubar. That means most used applications need their own folder, or even better Launch Bar needs an option for folder customization.
Yes, you can make aliases of apps you use most, then add that folder to the Menubar, but that’s work the average Mac user won’t bother to engage. Otherwise, Launch Bar is nicely done, works well, and makes opening apps quicker and easier so you can relegate the Dock to more screen space.
Oh, one more thing. Launch Bar is not Launchbar which, though rather expensive, is highly recommended for Mac power users. I do see a problem with similarities in the names.