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10.5: Build your own keyboard-based app launcher System 10.5
I used to call Spotlight to open my apps, but since i have a slow hard drive, I started to look for faster options. I didn't want to install Quicksilver or Launchbar or any other program for that. I had two goals:
  1. I should rely only on what OS X could offer me.
  2. I wanted fast access using only the keyboard.
So here's what I did: I dragged the Applications folder to the dock, creating a Stack. It was set to Display as folder and View contents as list. In System Preferences » Keyboard & Mouse » Keyboard Shortcuts, under the 'Keyboard Navigation' section, I checked the Move focus to the Dock box and used Control-Command-D as my shortcut. That's all it took.

Here's how it works: Hitting the shortcut keys brings the Dock to the front (or shows it if it's hidden), so you can navigate through the items with the arrow keys. Instead of the arrow keys, however, you can simply type app, and the highlight will jump directly to the Applications folder entry on the right side of the Dock. Then press the Space Bar to show the folder's contents, then type the name of the one you want to open and press Enter. So, when I want to launch Mail, the sequence of the keys goes:

Control-Command-D » app » [Space Bar] » mail » [Enter]

It's a lot faster than waiting for Spotlight to show the results, and without the need for additional software. The downside is that applications in sub-folders may require a bit more work to get to.

[robg adds: I've found 10.5's Spotlight speed for app location to be quite fast, and Spotlight has the advantage of knowing about all programs on your machine, not just those in Applications. The methods described in this hint, however, are useful as general guidelines for quickly accessing items in docked folders.]
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10.5: Build your own keyboard-based app launcher | 8 comments | Create New Account
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10.5: Build your own keyboard-based app launcher
Authored by: styrafome on Apr 29, '08 09:15:11AM

I have to agree with Rob, I 've been using Spotlight as my application/document/script launcher for a couple years and the Leopard version is so fast I'm stunned. I only have to type a couple of letters of the app name and it's already there and ready for me to hit Return.

That said, what I liked about this tip is that it reminded me that I could redefine the shortcut for Move Focus to Dock!

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10.5: Build your own keyboard-based app launcher
Authored by: tx.logic on Apr 29, '08 10:10:31AM

I have to say this is a lot more work, and a lot less efficient, than using Quicksilver or Launchbar, both of which are super fast ways to start and switch between apps. Notably, the Spotlight solution doesn't recognize natural abbreviations. For example, to start (or switch to a running copy of) Aquamacs Emacs, you just hit Cmd-<Space> to bring up your QS or LB window and type "ae" and you will be immediately presented with the app in question. (The first time you do this, Aquamacs Emacs may not be the first choice that comes up, but once you select it, both QS and LB remember that appbreviation in the future.) Given the many other advantages of these great utilities, I really don't see the motivation here.

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10.5: Build your own keyboard-based app launcher
Authored by: charlesbouldin on Apr 29, '08 11:03:15AM

I also use Spotlight. Under Leopard, it is so fast that it has bumped Quicksilver off my Mac. One hint for Spotlight, which is pretty well known, is to open System Preferences>Spotlight and drag rearrange the search order of the things that Spotlight searches.

I put Applications first, then Mail messages, then documents. This finds applications very, very quickly. It doesn't have the smart abbreviation learning of Quicksilver or Butler or Launchbar, but it works well enough and uses only the built in OSX tools.

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10.5: Build your own keyboard-based app launcher
Authored by: BoognishWasHere on Apr 29, '08 11:17:14AM

This is a great tip, however, an app by the name of "Namely" is available for free that runs in the background as a minimal system process! My keyboard shortcut for the app is (SHIFT + APPLE + X). When activated, a small "spotlight" like search bar appears on the desktop which allows you to search/run a specific app!! Very helpful for the fast keyboard surfer!!!

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10.5: Build your own keyboard-based app launcher
Authored by: hamarkus on Apr 29, '08 01:35:17PM

Spotlight certainly does a good enough job. I however use Sapiens instead. It is activated by drawing a circle with the mouse. I find that easier to access than Spotlight (there is also an hot Expose corner up there and the clock which I hit sometimes instead of the Spotlight) and as a bonus point I don't have to move my eyes to the top right corner.

Sapiens, as other launchers, only searches applications (in folders you define). By default it shows you the icons of the most recent/most often used apps to pick from, or you can type the name. While you type the icons of current match are shown.

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Keyboard Shortcuts
Authored by: MacTipper on Apr 29, '08 08:09:25PM
In case you didn't know, it's possible to make a keyboard shortcut for an application.

Essentially, go to [Apple Menu]>Recent Items> and find the app you want to launch. Then, copy the exact menu item for that app and create a keyboard shortcut for that menu name.

So, for Safari, I would create a keyboard shortcut Cmd-F10 for "".

More details on my blog:

(And, despite what I say in the blog post, you don't need to use the Terminal to do this.)


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10.5: Build your own keyboard-based app launcher
Authored by: keysdog on May 05, '08 03:47:40AM

I realized the topic of this hint is a KEYBOARD based app launcher, but it seems to me that this hint is an awful lot of work just to open an app. Why would you want to do all that typing when you can open any app with just one click. Has anyone tried a freeware app called AppMenuBoy? Place it in your Dock and all your apps are available with just one click. It's even faster than creating a Stack of your apps, since it doesn't take the time to draw the icons in the list. I tried making a Stack of my apps, but with so many apps it take a second for my machine to draw all the icons in the list each time I open the Stack. AppMenuBoy only shows a list w/o the app icons. MUCH faster!

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10.5: Build your own keyboard-based app launcher
Authored by: asmeurer on May 13, '08 04:43:16PM

You don't need to create a stack. Leopard lets you select Apps in the Dock by typing them. Just put your most used Apps in the Dock and highlight the Dock with the keyboard shortcut and start typing.

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