All Biased

A blog mostly about Mac, iPhone & iPad use

Why Spotlight probably is the best beginners app launcher for OS X

What is an app launcher?

An app launcher is a program that helps starting other programs. There are different kinds of app launchers. Some let you organize the program icons in ways that help you find and start them faster. Others let you find and open them by writing parts of their names.

I like the second type of app launcher better. The reason is that if I can do it on the keyboard I don't have to move my hands to control a mouse pointer. That saves time.

Consider how most people start programs:

  1. They move one hand from the keyboard to the mouse.
  2. Then they move the mouse pointer to the programs icon and click to open it.
  3. After that they scroll to find the right program icon and klick it to start.

This usually take at least five or ten seconds. Often more.

When I want to start a program, lets say Pages, I do this:

  1. Press Cmd and Space at the same time without lifting my fingers from the keyboard. That opens the Spotlight search bar in the top right corner of the screen.
  2. Start writing "pages". When I have written "pag" it has guessed that I mean Pages so I press Enter. That's it. The whole procedure takes me about two seconds.

Hopefully by now you understand the idea behind using an app or program launcher.

Why do I recommend using Spotlight as an app launcher?

  • It comes with the operating system so you don't have to pay extra for it. If you don't like it you will have lost nothing, except for some time.
  • It is easy to use. It takes a minute to learn and you can assign a keyboard shortcut of choice to start it.
  • It can do a lot more than just start programs. That means you only have to learn one program to manage a lot of different tasks.
  • There is no installation. Just start using it.

Activate and configure Spotlight in OS X

You might want to tweak Spotlight preferences a bit before you start to use it. This is how you do it:

  1. Open System Preferences and click the blue Spotlight icon.
  2. Activate the Search Results tab if it isn't already open.
  3. Tick the checkboxes to the left of things you want to be able to find using Spotlight. Clear the rest.
  4. Order the search results by dragging rows up or down. I like to have Programs and System Preferences at the top.
  5. Make sure at least the Spotlight menu keyboard shortcut checkbox is ticked.
  6. Choose the keyboard shortcut you want to use to open Spotlight. I use Cmd + Space.

Now you are done. Close System Preferences and test by pressing your Spotlight menu shortcut to see that it opens.

Good luck!

Published 30 dec 2012 by Niklas Johansson
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