Many of the improvements that have come in the latest version of Mac OS X will be instantly recognisable to anyone who has used iOS in the past, particularly on an iPad. Launchpad is one such feature, and it comes straight from the home screen of every iOS device since first generation iPod Touch.
Launchpad is, put simply, a wall of application shortcuts, but it does a little bit more than just show you a collage of everything you have installed on your machine…
To access Launchpad, you can either click on the logo on your dock, or make a four finger ‘pinch’ gesture by making a claw with your hand and dragging your fingers in from the edge of your trackpad. The Magic Trackpad is an ideal size for this gesture, but after using it I felt that my MacBook trackpad was a little small. Strange, two years ago I thought it was the biggest trackpad in the world…
When you invoke Launchpad, the grid of icons fade on to screen and your current windows fade out. Your desktop background is blurred to help you see the icons and text underneath them better, and you simply select the application which you wish to launch. To switch between pages of applications, you just have to take two fingers on your trackpad and scroll in the direction where you want to go. It’s worth noting, too, that folders in Launchpad are identical to folders in iOS; they just slide out.
Also, you don’t have immediate access to some applications such as Quicksilver whilst you’re in full screen mode, so in many case it’s quicker to simply dive into Launchpad with a gesture than it is to exit full screen and then use a shortcut application.
What if you’re in full screen and you want to access the dock? Your immediate instinct tells you to drag the cursor to the bottom of the screen and the dock will appear, but not in full screen. So, is it quicker to jump into Launchpad and see the dock, or leave full screen to see the dock and then re-enter full screen? Using Launchpad results in one less action, so it’s the more efficient way.
Finally, when you’re installing or updating applications from the App Store, you can see their progress in the Launchpad icon on the dock. You don’t have to open Launchpad itself to see how your download is going, just glance at the icon and it will tell you. It’s really simple, and although it takes a little adjusting to, you’ll definitely get used to it if you persevere.