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10.6: One way to create a mouse-free launcher assistant Desktop
Snow Leopard only hintI have a lot of apps, documents, and folders. A vast quantity. Many of these items are needed only occasionally, so I don't like to clutter up my premiere automation environment, QuicKeys, with launchers that I won't use every day, week, or even every month. That doesn't mean this tip can't be useful for everyday things, it's just that it is particularly suited for meeting my needs. This solution is based on an organized hierarchy of aliases kept in the Snow Leopard Dock. You can do this with earlier versions of Mac OS X to some extent, but to be able to have complete mouse-free navigation and launch control for a hierarchy of items, you need Snow Leopard.

To be able to get to the Dock without grabbing the mouse, you have to be sure that Move focus to the Dock is checked in the Keyboard and Text Input section of the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard pane of System Preferences. By default, the shortcut is triggered with control-F3 (Fn-Control-F3 on laptops, depending on the setting of F1, F2, etc. in the Keyboard section of the same System Preference pane).

Now build your hierarchy of aliases (or originals, if you prefer) in a folder somewhere on your hard drive -- your home folder is good -- and drag its containing folder into the Dock.

Now use the Control-F3 trigger to activate the Dock. It should activate with the last-used Dock item highlighted. For me, that's usually the Finder, so I normally keep the folder right next to the Trash. That way, when I press Control-F3, I can navigate to my folder with two arrow strokes: Up Arrow if the Dock is on the side of the screen, or Left Arrow if it's in the default bottom position. Press Return with your folder selected, and you'll see the first level of items pop up.

The way they look depends on the settings for the folder. To adjust those settings, you'll probably need to use the mouse, but don't worry, it's just for initial setup. Control-click the folder's icon in the Dock and choose the settings you like. I normally select Sort by Name, and Display as Folders, although you could also display the items as a Stack.

With my recommended settings, you won't observe any difference between Folder and Stack for Display method. I prefer to activate Grid for 'View content as,' because with lots of items, more keystrokes will be needed for navigation if you use Fan or List. Try the other settings for 'View content as' and you'll see.

Because the goal is to keep from using the mouse, you'll probably want to be able to see which item is highlighted while pressing arrow keys to navigate. I believe this is enabled by default for the latest release of Snow Leopard, but if you need to implement it, use a utility such as TinkerTool to modify Dock settings, or see this hint. ( To reverse the command, repeat it with no at the end instead of yes, then quit the Dock again.

Here's the really neat part, the keyboard navigation:
  • Control-F3 (Fn-control-F3): Move focus to Dock.
  • Use the arrow keys to move to the folder containing your aliases.
  • Return: Activate or enter selected item. If the selected item is 'Open in Finder,' it will do that instead.
  • Control-Command-Up Arrow: Navigate a level higher in the hierarchy.
  • Arrow keys: Navigate selection in current hierarchy. When you first enter the grid, before any item is selected, Up Arrow selects the lower right corner, and the other arrow keys select upper left.
Just choose 'Open in Finder' for the desired level to add more items to your folder. Happy launching!

[robg adds: There are many ways to create your own such launcher. My preferred choice of the day is Butler (disclaimer: I now work for Many Tricks, makers of Butler), which lets me create a navigable pop-up folder that can be activated via an assigned keyboard shortcut; I have Control-Option-1 through -3 set to show three such folders. Once activated, I then use the arrow keys to navigate through the hierarchy. You can do similar things with LaunchBar and Quicksilver, I believe, and I'm sure there are other tools. If you've got a favorite utility or method, please share.]
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10.6: One way to create a mouse-free launcher assistant | 9 comments | Create New Account
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10.6: One way to create a mouse-free launcher assistant
Authored by: Stormchild on Apr 28, '10 08:21:37AM

Powerful and flexible mouse-free launchers already exist:

I think you're a lot better off using one of the above than rolling your own solution with folders. There's much less setup to do (pretty much set and forget, once you've explored all the options), and they both offer much more powerful capabilities than merely opening files and folders.



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10.6: One way to create a mouse-free launcher assistant
Authored by: alexk82 on Apr 28, '10 08:55:10AM

i'll have to add in that you should try google's quick search box http://code.google.com/p/qsb-mac/ apparently the guy who wrote quick silver was hired by google. i installed the qsb instead of quick silver because at the moment there is more support for qsb



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10.6: One way to create a mouse-free launcher assistant
Authored by: asmeurer on Apr 28, '10 08:23:12AM

I was using Butler until recently, when I got too fed up with its shortcomings, namely, it is a slightly too slow for me, and it doesn't remember my last entry when I close it. So now, I am using Google Quick Search Box, which is pretty good, though you have to disable everything you don't want to make it fast enough.

This hint sounds like it would be way too slow to open something. In Butler or others, you only have to type a few letters from the name of the App, which is much faster than any other possible thing.



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10.6: One way to create a mouse-free launcher assistant
Authored by: frank_martin on Apr 28, '10 11:20:50PM

In Dragthing 5.9.5, mouseless navigation works IF Dragthing is frontmost while a dock is displayed:

Set a hotkey to maximise a dock. (Dragthing > *Dock preferences* > Hotkey).

Set the SAME HOTKEY to bring Dragthing to the front. (Dragthing > *Preferences* > Hotkeys, check "Use Hotkeys to Control Dragthing", then set the hotkey for "Bring Dragthing to the front".)

After bringing Dragthing to the front and maximising a dock with the hotkey:

-navigate tabs/layers with command-left/right arrow keys
-navigate item selection with the arrow keys
-a selected item is opened by typing the Return key; while the Enter key opens Dragthing's "Options" dialog for that item.

Edited on Apr 28, '10 11:29:12PM by frank_martin



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10.6: One way to create a mouse-free launcher assistant
Authored by: squirrel77 on Apr 29, '10 08:13:34AM
I tend to stick with:-
Command + Tab to flick to Finder, or just click on the desktop,
then do Command + Shift + A or Command + Shift + U to open the Applications/Utilities folder,
then type the first few letters of the app to highlight it and then do Command + O to open it.

No messing about with 3rd party apps or settings, becomes 2nd nature very quickly and you could place a folder that alphabetically appears first in either of these folders to access your hierarchy folder with arrow keys.

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10.6: One way to create a mouse-free launcher assistant
Authored by: everkleer80 on Apr 30, '10 09:39:26AM

I've been using this solution for a while. (I just prefer using built-in solutions over 3rd-party ones when possible.) If you don't know this already, you can also start typing the name of an item to select it.

For example if I want to launch Hulu Desktop: (this has become second nature to me)

Hit F19 to activate the dock (my hotkey set in keyboard prefpane)
Type "app" to select my applications folder/stack
Press return
Type "hu"
Press return

This way you don't have to worry about where the selection is when you activate the dock.



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10.6: One way to create a mouse-free launcher assistant
Authored by: Zanax on May 03, '10 10:26:14AM

Why not just use Spotlight?

Cmd Space, start typing the name of the app, document, and tap enter when it appears.

It's all I use, I keep my dock empty so I only have open apps appearing in it.



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10.6: One way to create a mouse-free launcher assistant
Authored by: jbarley on May 04, '10 07:37:08AM

another vote for 'Spotlight'
built in, fast, and far simpler then most other suggestions.



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10.6: One way to create a mouse-free launcher assistant
Authored by: llee on May 04, '10 10:29:19PM

I don't think you have as much stuff on your system as I do. I typically have to type in 8 or 10 characters to narrow a Spotlight list enough for it to be useful. For example, I have 970 QuicKeys shortcuts. Am I a software hoarder? Yeah, maybe.



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