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Another Launcher - The ultimate power tool? Apps
Another Launcher imageThe macosxhints Rating:
7 of 10
[Score: 7 out of 10]
Another Launcher was mentioned on the site last week (see this hint), and at first, I ignored it (other than testing it for the hint) as I thought I had the only web search tools I needed (Huevos being my current favorite). However, I decided to download Another Launcher and take a look at it ... and I'm glad I did. It's hard to describe everything that Another Launcher (AL from here on out) does, as it's a very wide-reaching program, but for me, it's managed to combine my need for four or five little apps into one program. Due to its depth and some design decisions, the user interface is a bit daunting and confusing, but for me, it's been worth the learning curve to discover everything AL can do for me. Here's what I have it doing as of now:
  • I've created five or six often-used web search tools, all keyed to system-wide hot keys. I can now search hints, the hints forums, PHP and MySQL documentation, Google, and a few others with keystrokes from any application. Huevos did this before for me.
  • I've create "hot menus" of favored applications and documents that pop-up under my cursor at the press of a hotkey combo. I used to use MaxMenus to do this.
  • A few applications that I launch quite a bit (Excel, Safari) now have their own global activation hot keys.
  • I now have a global iTunes controller for start, stop, previous track, next track, and track information -- just hit Control-Option-Up Arrow in any app, and I get this nice floating window with the song info, as seen in this screenshot, which appears then fades away after a couple seconds.
  • All of my hard drives have fully navigable hierarchical menus available in one menubar icon.
This only scratches the surface of what Another Launcher can do; for those who like LaunchBar (I personally don't like that type of launcher), that functionality is also included - just hit Command-Space and type a few letters to launch any app. Suffice it to say there are tons of things you can do with Another Launcher, though you will probably find the interface quite confusing at first. If it had a better interface, I would've given it a much higher score; as it is, it scores well almost in spite of itself.

Read the rest of the hint for a few workarounds for things that got me as I was initially setting this up ...

Here are a few things that may make working with AL a bit easier for you:
  • Although there's a search included, you may wish to edit the default functionality -- it searches for "exact phrase" by default. The more useful option ("all words") is easy to add, though. Open AL's Preferences, click on Web Search, click on Computers, click on Mac OS X Hints, and then click the Gear icon and select Edit. In the box after "... Query ...", add (no quotes) "&keyType=all" before the existing "&date..." bit. Hit OK and you're done; you'll now search for hints that have all your search words in any order.

  • If you create a hot menu for launching applications (by adding a Folder to the Customize panel), make sure you control-click on the folder, select Edit, and then click the Gear icon next to Hot Key and select Options. In the new window that opens, click the "Hot key opens a menu" checkbox. If you do NOT do this, then typing the hot key will launch every application in the folder you added!

  • To make AL take up much less room in your menu, drag the (greyed out) "Volumes" item from its starting position into the "This Mac" section of the Customize window. This will make it appear as a drop-down under the AL icon in the menu bar. You can do the same thing with Web Search if you don't want it there either (or just delete it, which is what I did as I have hot keys for all my usual searches).
The interface is quite intimidating, but there's a lot of power to be had with a bit of work...
  • Currently 1.13 / 5
  You rated: 1 / 5 (15 votes cast)

Another Launcher - The ultimate power tool? | 18 comments | Create New Account
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Another Launcher - The ultimate power tool?
Authored by: gdsimms on Dec 01, '03 01:24:27PM

Only 7/10?

I would have rated it 8/10 a few weeks ago, before the major speed improvement. Now it's easily a 9. Even if it were nothing but the "enter abbreviation" popup it would be an 8.

I have stripped my dock down to bare essentials, and I launch almost everything with [ctrl]+[opt]+[return], [some substring of application name]. This also works for my many terminal shortcuts, so I can pop up a new ssh window to any of a dozen machines with only a few keys. The visual feedback as I type into the abbreviation window is awesome, too. No need to blindly remember keys; you just type what you know and it guides you the rest of the way.

The big way I can think of to make it better would be support of kde-style "web shortcuts" prefixes, so that I can define my own web queries with "gg:" "av:" "dict:" "thes:" etc. prefixes that would submit to google, alta vista,, and, respectively.

Then it would be an easy 10.

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Another Launcher - The ultimate power tool?
Authored by: Embro on Dec 01, '03 02:40:51PM

Ok...this is very cool...but
How do I make it launch a group of bookmarks into tabs rather than individual windows?

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Another Launcher - The ultimate power tool?
Authored by: Embro on Dec 02, '03 05:13:33PM
I got an email from the Author on how to do this:
MacOSXHints doesn't let me log in right now, so I'll just answer your question via e-mail. To have your browser open a set of bookmarks in tabs rather than in separate windows, you will have to tweak your browser preferences: In Safari, for instance, go to the "General" preference pane and check "Open links from applications: in the current window". In Camino, there is a similar setting.

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Another Launcher - The ultimate power tool?
Authored by: dougR on Dec 01, '03 03:28:02PM

The features of this app are impressive, and it really seems to take the Launchbar idea and expand on it in some interesting ways. But, man, is it slow! Granted I'm running on an iBook 700, but it really seems to be unresponsive to my mouse clicks. In comparison, Launchbar (and most other apps) really fly. Am I missing something?

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Another Launcher - The ultimate power tool?
Authored by: syko on Dec 01, '03 08:40:37PM

i've got a dual 1.8 and it's slower when typing in keywords than launchbar

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Try turning off Always Up-to-Date
Authored by: alexmathew on Dec 02, '03 08:34:42PM

It fly's even on my Pismo 400!

Go to Preferences>Advanced>Entering Abbreviations>Uncheck Always Up-todate....

I just started with this and the search function - it is an amazing utility.

However, the complexity may be too daunting for me to make full use of it!


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boosting search speed
Authored by: ddldreaming on Dec 02, '03 09:31:43PM

I found Another Launcher abysmally slow until I checked "Only Applications" under "Consider External Contents" in its Advanced preference tab (which also automatically disables "Always up-to-date"). I also removed unneeded/nonexistent search directories. Now it's as fast as LaunchBar, but also doesn't seek through as many items.

I'm still undecided about it. It's very flexible but also jarringly clunky. What I dislike most about it is the way it usually fails to return focus to the application window I was working in (when I bring up a popup window and then cancel it). It's taken me a long time to get familiar with it (for a Mac application, anyway); many of its preference options are not self-evident and the documentation is maddeningly circular.

Whether I keep using it or not, it's nice to see the evolution of tools like these. Hopefully it'll inspire Objective Development to extend LaunchBar.

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Another Launcher - The ultimate power tool?
Authored by: szabesz on Dec 03, '03 11:05:59AM

Another Launcher used to be slow to load on 10.2.8 for me, before upgrading to 10.3. But the whole 10.2.8 system was really slow as well. It is really srtange, but over more than a year of usage, my 10.2.x system has gardually became SLOW! After uprgading to 10.3, later on to 10.3.1, my iMac is back to normal, and the launch time of Another Launcher is back to normal as well. Strange that it took some time till Another Launcher and the system became speedy again!

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Run maintenance...
Authored by: alexmathew on Dec 03, '03 11:51:38AM

Are you running frequent Maintenance scripts? Use something like Maintain. Remove Cache files and re-do the prebinding and permissions. Since I have a clone (CCC) being done every night, all this is taken care of. My system rarely slows down - 10.2.8 on a Pismo/400.

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Another Launcher - The ultimate power tool?
Authored by: jonahlee on Dec 01, '03 06:25:24PM

It does seem to have a lot more features than Launchbar, but I don't find that it works quite as quickly or as easily. I am sticking with Launchbar.

- Jonah Lee

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More LaunchBar Praise
Authored by: whiteinge on Dec 02, '03 04:35:19AM
I still much prefer LaunchBar. It's much faster and doesn't take up the real-estate that Another Launcher does. I've got a 15" PowerBook and even with the wide-screen I can't fit everything I want on the Menu Bar in, especially now with Fast user switching...

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More LaunchBar Praise
Authored by: fragerybou on Dec 02, '03 06:45:09PM

Check out FUSKey, to deal with fast user switching. You can do a key-combo to go straight to the login screen, and "turn off" the fast user switching option in the accounts control panel, and poof, your menu is gone, and fast user switching still works.

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Another Launcher - The ultimate power tool?
Authored by: notmatt on Dec 02, '03 06:37:43AM

I gave this a try for a while, and found the interface too aggravating to use. I don't personally buy into the argument that lots of functionality requires a complex interface, I think that's usually a symptom of weak design; certainly in the UI area, and potentially throughout the application.

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I like it - but a few problems / questions ..!!
Authored by: alexmathew on Dec 02, '03 08:42:50PM

I like the concept - unfortunately like iKey, I may end up using this for only a fraction of its features due to its complexity! (I use iKey just for automatic pasting of standard text in any app - but thats another story)

With Another Launcher, In notice the following:
1. Clicking on an item (say search icon) gives me a Window with lots of blank rows - only when I scroll down do I find the Search and other functions ..what is the space for? Deliberate or a bug?

2. Is it possible to have a search function for the Addressbook instead of the pop-up that is available now?

3. I would love to have an AVI like iCal status also available through AL - so I should be able to program AL to launch AVI also - right? Someday I will figure this out I guess!

This app rates atleast a 9/10 - the one point for the sheer complexity - which may be necessary.

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Updated discussion with author
Authored by: alexmathew on Dec 08, '03 04:42:04PM

>Here are screenshots of the problem. It only happens with the >BookMarks. AL is setup as an button on the right bottom corner of my >screen.

I see. I'm afraid that's a general OS X problem. Right now, there's not much I can do about it, as Another Launcher uses standard (cocoa) methods for its menus. Thus, to achieve the behavior you expect, I would have to implement my own breed of menus; and I'm not sure if I'm going to do that.

>To lookup names as in the AddressBook Search bar but without the >intrusiveness. So a window similar to the Application abbreviation >window - except that as you type letters it brings up matching Names >and the selecting one shows the information in a window similar to the >drill-down menu now available. Perhaps there is a way to achieve this >now?

No. But it will probably be added in AL 3.1.

>I would love to have an AVI like iCal status also available through AL - >so I should be able to program AL to launch AVI also - right? Someday I >will figure this out I guess!


Thank you! I had misunderstood this in an ".avi" (cf. ".mpeg") way. Not sure if you were asking for this, but you cannot control Avi via Another Launcher. I've been thinking about adding a plug-in interface to Another Launcher for quite some time, though...

I might also eventually implement this functionality directly in Another Launcher, but don't take this as a promise.

Thanks for your explanations!

Peter Maurer.

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Another Launcher - The ultimate power tool - not?
Authored by: chris.isaac on Dec 05, '03 03:34:32AM

I saw this review, installed another launcher(on 10.2.8), ran it and it trashed all my my Mail accounts, and lost all my Netnewswire light rss feeds!
Needless to say it's now binned - this sort of behaviour is unacceptable for any program.

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Another Launcher[...] - Question
Authored by: ajr on Dec 15, '03 04:54:04PM

I think its a great App. 9/10. It loses a point because it is often slow on the initial lookup.

I have a question regarding Rob's Comments, you said

You can do the same thing with Web Search if you don't want it there either (or just delete it, which is what I did as I have hot keys for all my usual searches).

Do you have hot keys as set up through Another Launcher or something else? I am really looking for this!

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Another Launcher[...] - Question
Authored by: robg on Dec 15, '03 05:10:48PM

Through Another Launcher -- in the Prefs, you can define your own web searches and assign them hot keys (that's from memory; the hot key assignment may be in the main window of the program).


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