LaunchBar review: Control Mac apps with the power of thought
Almost the first app I install on a new Mac is LaunchBar. The first was fast scanner free pdf scan. This is the bootstrap I will use for everything else. LaunchBar gives you full access to anything that can be indexed, searched, played, viewed, or opened on your Mac. With a single light, think of it as an absorbing spotlight. But much more than that.
This is a shortcut to starting the application. But that core is wrapped in many other features that have matured on the Mac platform for over 20 years. (LaunchBar's origins go back to NeXTSTEP in 1995; it first appeared in Mac OS X in 2001.)
What do I spend the most time on? I call it a hotkey, I type the first letter or two into the app and I get a list of the best matches. LaunchBar puts the items I run, view, or open most often at the top, so what I want is almost always the first item that appears. Press Enter and the app starts, music plays, or something else (like an emoji) is inserted into the text.
While Spotlight can perform some of LaunchBar's tasks and include others that Apple deems necessary and you can't, LaunchBar is fast and adapts to your behavior. You can also easily customize the categories it throws to return as a result and add more.
You can also drill down to topic details by pressing the right arrow key for almost any match. LaunchBar shows more contact information, shows the contents of the application package, takes you deeper into the contents of the folder, or gives you a reason to see this result.
New LaunchBar users should start with the LaunchBar Index, which can be accessed via Index > Show Index. The scrolling menu on the left shows everything LaunchBar considers when you type in its bar. Sometimes this may not meet your needs. I'll keep tweaking this list over time, especially as developers add to and improve it.
For example, you might want to avoid matching calendar entries, Safari bookmarks, and songs in your music library. You can Ctrl-click any item in the list and select Deactivate to remove it from the index. Various elements allow you to customize it. If you ever want certain apps to appear as matches, use the apps index entry to deselect the apps you want to remove. Settings views for almost every element allow you to further customize your results.
While launching projects from the ribbon may be LaunchBar's raison d'être, it also has many other features of many of the more popular tools previously reviewed in Mac Gems. If you don't need the full functionality of a standalone program like PasteBot, the built-in clipboard manager can help you maintain your history. With the 1Password integration, you can see matching logins and other entries in the results list.