LaunchBar, the super cool application launcher, has saved me hours each year in productivity improvements. At it’s simpliest LaunchBar lets you launch applications on your Mac without you ever having to lift the keyboard. However to call this program a mere application launcher does it a great disservice. Where LaunchBar really shines is in all of the things you can do in addition to launching applications.
I started thinking about all the cool things that I do with LaunchBar and the more I thought about it the more new ideas came my way.
Below is a list of all the awesome things you can do with LaunchBar that you might not of realized. I describe each item along with the shortcut command to perform the action. Remember for each of these actions you need to first invoke LaunchBar (Option+Space).
1. Ok, we’ll start with the basics. LaunchBar is an application launcher
If you are unfamiliar with LaunchPad it works like this. You type a keyboard shortcut to invoke LaunchBar, then in the LaunchBar window you begin to type a command. Press return and the command is carried out. So, in my setup if I want to launch Safari I would type:
- Type Safari
- Press Enter
What’s cool about LaunchBar is that it learns which commands I use most frequently. After using Safari a few times from LaunchBar I will likely only need to type “S” rather than “Safari” to launch Safari.
If you are a heavy Spotlight user you might be saying “So, what. I can do that with Spotlight.” True, but LaunchBar can do so much more. Read on for the rest of the list.
2. In addition to Applications, you can launch System Preference Panes by invoking LaunchBar (Cmd+Space) and typing the name of the preference Pane
3. You can also run Terminal commands – Type Run and press SPACE then type the name of the Terminal command (i.e., top)
LaunchBar is great if you use iTunes for your music library. Without your hands leaving the keyboard you can:
- Start Playing iTunes – iTunes – Play
- Jump to the Next Song – iTunes – Next Song
- Jump to a Previous Song – iTunes – Previous Song
- Rate iTunes Songs – Rate Song
- Find a song in your iTunes Library – Type the name of the song
- Then jump to the album that the song belongs to. – Type the name of the song then press the right arrow
- Create a Genius playlist around the song that is playing – Type Genius
- Increase your Mac speaker volume – Type Increase Volume
- Decrease your Mac speaker volume – Type Decrease Volume
- Mute your speakers – Type Toggle Mute
- Unmute your speaker – Type Toggle Mute
Navigate Your Mac
LaunchBar makes it simple to move around the files and folders on your computer. The hyperlinks will take you to some 3rd party scripts that will perform the specified action.
- Open a specific folder in Finder – Type the name of the Folder
- Navigate that folder using the arrow keys
- Switch between running applications – Invoke LaunchBar (Cmd+Space) then press Cmd+Space repeatedly and you’ll see it select each application
- Open a specific folder in Terminal – Type the name of the Folder then Tab and Select Terminal
- Add spotlight tags to files or folders
- Look at your clipboard history – Type Clipboard History then press the right arrow
- Pick an item in your clipboard to paste – Follow 14 then use the up/down arrow to select the item. Press enter will copy it to the cursor location.
Control Your Mac
- Take a screen shot – Type Screen
- Quit an application – Type Quit
- Quit all the running applications in your system – Type Quit All
- Switch to the Login Window – Type Login
- Switch Users – Type in a username and press Enter
- Logout – Type Logout
- Empty the Trash – Type Empty Trash
- Open the Trash – Type Open Trash
- Check the date – Type Date
- Then copy it to the clipboard with Cmd-C
- Eject a DVD – Type Eject
Access the Internet
- Get your IP Address – Type Show IP Address
- Create a tiny URL – Type URL
- Search Google – Type Google then press Return. Type in your search query and press Return. This takes advantage of the Search Template feature of LaunchBar. With it, you can create custom searches for your favorite websites. For example you can
- Search Lifehacker by creating this template – http://lifehacker.com/search/*
- Start playing a station on Pandora with this template – http://www.pandora.com/#/stations/create/*
- Look something up in Wikipedia – Type WIK select Wikipedia and press the SPACEBAR
- Create iCal Events – Type the name of your calendar and press SPACE. Then enter description @ date [and time]
- Update your todo list – Type the name of your calendar and press SPACE. Then enter description
- Email a document – Type Send File
- Send an email to an individual – Type the name of a contact, press SPACE, highlight an email address and press return.
- Open a web browser to a specific location – Type the name of a website. When you type the dot (.) LaunchBar will switch to a browser search box.
- Search your browsers history – Type the name of a website
- Get the definition of a word – Type Dictonary then press SPACE, then type your word.
- Remind yourself to pickup a pizza
- Lock your computer and put it to sleep
- Quickly send an IM message
- Sync your iPhone
That’s how I use LaunchBar. What’s so great about this program is that it can be tailored to the behavior of each user. If you use LaunchBar, we’d love to hear in the comments how you use it. If you don’t yet have LaunchBar, what are you waiting for?
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