If you haven’t heard of it, Launchy is essentially a program created to help you launch other programs already installed on your computer. The first time I heard this, my immediate reaction was “Why the hell would I want to install a program to launch other programs?” Well I’ll tell you exactly why…
I hate cluttered desktops. There’s nothing worse than logging on to my PC and being confronted with countless shortcuts, folders and old downloads. I even got rid of the Recycle Bin shortcut from my desktop! With Launchy installed, I no longer need to have any shortcuts to applications or documents on my desktop, and it runs in the background, so you don’t know it’s there until you need it to be.
It’s activated by a hotkey, which by default is alt + space, but this can be configured however you want it to be by going into the application’s options (right click on the Launchy window, and select options) and going to the “General” tab. From here, you can select whatever hotkey combination you want to use to show the application.
When it becomes visible, you’re presented with a search box. When you begin typing in the name of the application you want, Launchy will guess at what application you’re trying to open. To open the application currently being shown, just hit the enter key. If you want Launchy to disappear again, you can either press the escape key or alt + space.
By default, when it’s installed, Launchy only searches applications on your PC, but it can also be configured to index whatever you want. Adding a directory is simple — go into the options and navigate to the “Catalog” tab. Here, you can add as many directories as you want by selecting the “+” button. In addition to this, you can also choose what file types to include when you search the directory, for example, I added my “downloads” folder, but chose only to search for MP3 files within that folder.
When you run Launchy for the first time, you’re presented with the default skin. If the skin doesn’t suit the style of your desktop (or you just don’t like it) you can change it easily by going into the options window, and selecting the “Skins” tab. You can then browse through the various skins and select which one you want to use. There are many sites that offer skins for download, but my personal favourites are the ones on offer at deviantart.com.
Another feature I found extremely useful was the ability to add plug-ins. Plug-ins are located in the “Plugin” folder of the Launchy installation folder (big surprise there…) and can be added and removed whenever you want. To configure a plug-in, go to the “Plugins” tab of the option screen. From here, you can remove and configure it.
After using Launchy regularly for several days, I found it to be very stable, and a useful application that I will keep and most probably use for the foreseeable future. Best of all, it’s available as a free download from the Launchy website for both Windows and Linux operating systems.