Before the advent of fuzzy application launchers such as Quicksilver and Alfred, people used to waste a lot of time trying to get to what they wanted to do. By integrating and indexing commonly defined actions on your system into a single package, you can save a lot of energy and time.
LaunchBar 5 is a similar, yet much advanced centralized control application for Mac OS X. Calling LaunchBar just another ‘application launcher’ would be just plain wrong, because as you will see shortly, application launching is just the first thing that you would use it for.
LaunchBar has a very minimal presence on your system. It only shows up when you trigger it (default shortcut is Cmd + Space, same as Spotlight and Quicksilver), and the UI consists of just a small horizontal bar, hence the name LaunchBar. A tray below it appears when additional actions/views are requested.
Here is what LaunchBar can do:
- Launch Applications – To launch an application, all you need to do is type the first few letters of the application name and hit enter. For example, to launch iTunes, just type in “it”, iTunes should show up. Depending on the number of matching results on your system, you might have to type the first two, three or even four letters of the application name. In addition to this, you can also choose recently opened files to open the application with. To do this, once the desired application is in focus in LaunchBar, just press the ‘right’ navigation key, and select recent files from the actions.You can also switch focus (keep pressing Space while holding down Cmd) to an open application, quit an application (press Cmd + Q when app is in focus in LB), or force quit it (press Cmd + Option + F).
- Search the Web – Searching Google, Yahoo! or Bing is as simple as typing in the name of the search engine, pressing enter, and entering your query. If your favorite search engine isn’t included with LaunchBar by default, you can add a search template to it from the Indexes pane.
- Calculator – For simple calculations that you might want to do: for example 350*30. Just start punching in the numbers, and press enter. The result is displayed in a beautiful large bezel in the middle of your screen.
- iTunes – Similar to application launching. Just type in the name of an artist, album, playlist, or song. If you can’t find what you’re looking for directly, you can also navigate to it by typing in iTunes first, then delving deeper by pressing the right navigation key.
Apart from these functions, LaunchBar can replace almost all clipboard utilities (it keeps a history of copied stuff), and it can act as a interface for iCal (you can set events/alarms and view/search them).
LaunchBar 5 comes with a free 30 day trial (without any nagging or feature limitation). An unlimited use license for LaunchBar 5 costs €24, which is a little over the top, but considering all the features packed into it, is probably worth it,