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What program do you primarily use to launch apps and open documents?

1/1: What program do you primarily use to launch apps and open documents?

A Better Finder Launcher 23 (0.67%)
Butler 127 (3.67%)
DragThing 110 (3.18%)
LaunchBar 273 (7.89%)
OS X's Finder / Dock / Toolbar 1,571 (45.43%)
Path Finder 43 (1.24%)
Quicksilver 905 (26.17%)
Spotlight 226 (6.54%)
Other (list in comments) 180 (5.21%)
Other polls | 3,459 votes | 67 comments

What program do you primarily use to launch apps and open documents? | 67 comments | Create New Account
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Today's poll brought to you by...
Authored by: robg on Nov 17, '06 06:52:01AM
Thanks to hmelman for the suggestion for today's poll -- it was one of many good ideas presented in the comments to my recent call for help. Look for more polls from that thread in the future -- looks like we'll have enough topics to keep the polls fresh for a while at least! Thanks to everyone who submitted ideas.

-rob.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Snard for me...
Authored by: Clint MacDonald on Nov 17, '06 07:55:31AM
...and not just any Snard. I prefer the original "Docklet" version (remember Docklets?) that is no longer available.

http://www.gideonsoftworks.com/snard.html

[ Reply to This | # ]
Today's poll brought to you by...
Authored by: stevec on Nov 17, '06 07:59:59AM

From a long time ago I was a big fan of the old Now Utilities and the closest I have come to a replacement is the pretty good AliasMenu (http://www.widemann.net/aliasmenu/index.html). But I only use this on my main Mac with a nice wide screen as it tends to eat up menu bar real estate.

I have tried the keyboard launchers and find my preference leans to menus rather than keyboard for launching. And on my iBook and other low use Macs I just make a folder in ~/Documents called "Apps" give it a custom icon and drag it to the dock. I place simple aliases in the menu and that works remarkably well. Either a click and hold for 2 seconds or a right/ctrl click for instant access works great. That method also seems to impact the system less by not running a lot of background stuff required for the alternative menu systems or keyboard launchers



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Quick Access - contextual menu launcher
Authored by: bdjones on Nov 17, '06 12:24:17PM

Simple/fast etc



[ Reply to This | # ]
Today's poll brought to you by...
Authored by: ivansahba on Apr 19, '09 01:03:43AM

Sapiens; a very intelligent learner of your apps using habits and TigerLaunch a free menu bar launcher that allows you to check OFF the apps you do not want in the menu!



[ Reply to This | # ]
Namely
Authored by: anoved on Nov 17, '06 07:06:44AM
I use Namely. Fast, simple, and reliable.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Namely
Authored by: bruderfranz on Nov 17, '06 07:12:10AM

me, too



[ Reply to This | # ]
Namely
Authored by: plagarri on Nov 17, '06 07:14:14AM

Namely too



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Namely
Authored by: qubex on Nov 18, '06 10:01:04PM

Me too!

---
Place me in the company of those who seek Truth, but deliver me from those who believe to have found it.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Namely
Authored by: Nick Sloan on Nov 22, '06 07:28:36AM

Likewise. I considered Quicksilver indispensable for a while, but now I prefer the simple efficiency of Namely.



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Non-exclusive answers?
Authored by: bruderfranz on Nov 17, '06 07:15:14AM

Hi!

It should be possible to select more than one correct answer cause it's more than likely that one is using different methods for different programs (and where's good old Dock?).



[ Reply to This | # ]
Non-exclusive answers?
Authored by: wallybear on Nov 17, '06 07:31:49AM

I think that the "OS X Finder" answer is the one for Dock users.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Non-exclusive answers?
Authored by: anoved on Nov 17, '06 07:56:18AM

This is a good point. I answered Namely, but I certainly do use the Finder (and the Dock), too. Even the Terminal (or xterm) gets some app-launching action with open -a. Some people may even register all the apps they use as Login Items and be done with it! Well, maybe.

Anyway, I'd interpret the question as "what is your primary method of launching apps," with a focus on which third-party utilities people find useful.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Non-exclusive answers?
Authored by: robg on Nov 17, '06 09:12:56AM

I should have included primary, yes ... I'll edit the question now. I also changed "Finder" to "Finder / Toolbar / Dock" to be a bit more clear...

-rob.



[ Reply to This | # ]
The Dock!
Authored by: Pedro Estarque on Nov 17, '06 07:29:59AM

I answered "the Finder" as it was the closest to an Apple supplied alternative.



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The Dock!
Authored by: ornette14 on Nov 17, '06 07:41:42AM

Me too.



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QS :D
Authored by: JayBee on Nov 17, '06 07:43:00AM

Quicksilver, Quicksilver, Quicksilver, Quicksilver, Quicksilver, Quicksilver!

Man that app rocks. I get seriously lost when I sit down at a Mac without it installed, or at a Windows box at all: Command-space, erm, where's the launcher?

It gets so bad that I often forget how to launch apps otherwise. I'll find myself thinking "Hrm, no Quicksilver. No problem, I'll just install it. Let's fire up Safari..." command-space "Oh, wait. Where's the mouse?"

-J



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Spotlight
Authored by: unforeseen:X11 on Nov 17, '06 09:12:58AM

Command - Space opens the Spotlight-Box for me, my primary launcher (for apps not in the Dock, though). No big deal.

---
this is not the sig you`re looking for.



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QS :D
Authored by: bryanc on Nov 17, '06 10:32:45AM

Amen to that.

Once in a rare while QS crashes on me though... and I find my self trying to restart it: ctrl-space -- uh...

btw, on windows there is launchy, not nearly as powerful as QS but for basics it's handy.



[ Reply to This | # ]
QS :D
Authored by: rlicata on Nov 29, '06 10:42:16PM

Your rant at the beginning reminds me of a monkey... that's it! Steve Balmer!



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DragThing
Authored by: DougAdams on Nov 17, '06 07:53:25AM
I know I'm posting this early in the voting, but I'm surprised James Thomson's venerable and dependable DragThing isn't getting more votes. I do use Quicksilver on occasion, but I've been a loyal DragThing user for years. Its customizable tabs keep it out of the way when not in use, and I've got every app, doc, URL, and script I use on a regular basis tucked into its drawers (of course, I still yearn for OS 9's handy Pop-Up Windows). Works like a charm and always has.

---
Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes
http://www.dougscripts.com/itunes/

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DragThing
Authored by: fracai on Nov 17, '06 09:21:32AM

I used to use DragThing back in OS 9. With the Dock in OS X I think I installed DragThing, but found myself using it less and less. These days Quicksilver covers every use and more that I used DragThing for back in the day. QS takes up less space and keeps my hands on the keyboard.

---
i am jack's amusing sig file



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DragThing
Authored by: 1amzave on Nov 18, '06 02:15:53AM

With regard to "keeping [one's] hands on the keyboard," I actually find DragThing to be quite good for this - I have keyboard shortcuts set up for almost all my apps, even the less-frequently-used ones. Easy to set up, and completely customizable. Just about any app is a control-option-[letter] away. Faster even than command-tab for switching between applications that are already running.



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DragThing
Authored by: tjnugent on Nov 17, '06 03:38:09PM

I selected "Quicksilver" in the poll, since that's what I use most. But I also have DragThing. I was using DragThing well before I tried Quicksilver, and still use it for some things. But I have to admit that I use QS as a launcher much more than DT, although I really like DT's process dock to show me what's running, what's hidden, etc.



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The Finder and the Dock
Authored by: MJCube on Nov 17, '06 07:54:46AM

I assume "OS X's Finder" includes the Dock and other built-in methods, such as dragging a proxy icon to an app icon. It's rare that I go to a Finder window to launch an app, but I do usually use it to open documents. I tried Quicksilver briefly and got the idea, but for the variety of things I open (and, important: the way I organize my files) the System is just as efficient. I even turned off the System-wide Recent Items in the Apple menu, because I wasn't using it.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Quicksilver, every day
Authored by: Barty on Nov 17, '06 08:20:39AM

Having apps, docs, meetings, contacts phones, web urls, web searches, spotlight searches right under a shortcut is fantastic.

---
Veni, Vidi, Barty !



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Terminal
Authored by: googoo on Nov 17, '06 08:26:19AM
I often use the terminal as a launcher. I have set up several aliases and scripts to open frequently used apps. For example, occasionally I run NetInfo Manager, but I do not use it often enough to take up room in the dock. I have the following entry in my .bashrc file.

alias netinfo='open -a /Applications/Utilities/NetInfo Manager.app'

I just enter the command netinfo, and viola! No more drilling down to find /Applications/Utilities/NetInfo Manager in the Finder. I also use the command-line version of BBEdit to open text files more often than clicking on them in the Finder.

-Mark



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Terminal
Authored by: kevinmontuori on Nov 17, '06 04:15:39PM

I'll second open(1) as a great all purpose launcher. In terminal open <filename> generally does the right thing, even with directories. From shell scripts and (especially) emacs, it's really handy. Back in the Sun, AIX, then Linux days, it was necessary to supply a "helper application" for each mime-type. Now open suffices for all of them. Swanky.

Other than that, I use Spotlight. I've tried quicksilver and got fed up when they required up-to-date checks for beta versions. That's crap.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Terminal
Authored by: tirerim on Nov 27, '06 02:22:27PM

Yep, I do that for some applications. Finder/Dock and Spotlight for some others.

Of course, many of the applications I use don't even need to use the <code>open</code> command, since they just run in the terminal window. :-) (Favorites are ssh, emacs, irssi, yafc, and less.)



[ Reply to This | # ]
Poll
Authored by: bobw on Nov 17, '06 08:28:02AM

I like FruitMenu myself. I can open anything from the Apple Menu, put any folder(s) in there.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Poll
Authored by: frgough on Nov 17, '06 11:23:18AM

Fruitmenu is what the Apple menu should have been. I mean, come on, Steve Jobs, it's a global menu for a reason, you know.



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Programs is plural; documents are everywhere
Authored by: CaptDeuce on Nov 17, '06 08:37:54AM

I don't use one single method or one program to open documents or applications.

In the Finder I launch Applications from:

  • Dock
  • Recent Applications (Apple menu)
  • directly from the Apple menu thanks to Fruit Menu (does Fruit Menu count as a "program"?)
  • Finder window (yes, I go to my application folders for seldomly used apps)
  • Document's Open With context menu item (I think this qualifies as launching an application and opening a document)
  • Finder window toolbar

The one method I almost never use is aliases on my Desktop since it's usually hidden behind 35.6 windows at any given time. :-j

As for documents... I open them from where I find them which is usually pretty much the same places I launch applications from.

I guess that makes the Mac pretty wonderful. Right? Hmm....

On Windows I use:

  • Start Menu
  • Launch tray (only about 6 items because it needs to share the whatchyamacallit bar with every bleepin' window on the cursed machine)
  • Document's Open with context menu (or whatever it's called)
  • As a last resort because it isn't (or I can't find it) in the Start Menu, the Program Folder... which can turn into a real adventure since programs are often nested in directories bearing the name of the publisher, not the program, and the programs name is as likely as not to have a 8.3 filename that bears little resemblance to what humans consider to be the program's "name."

Shorter list, isn't it? Again, I'm omitting aliases on the desktop because, true to the "Desktop Metaphor," I can rarely see mine. :-)

An interesting difference between Mac and Windows is that it's easy to access Window's permanent and recently used application in the Start Menu but more difficult in the All Programs menu item. On Mac, the Dock is easier than either but recently used item are only slightly less so. Adding items to Window's Start Menu is much more difficult than it should be, even with drag and drop.

Linux? I'm not going there. :-j

---
--
"Where's my other sock?" - A. Einstein

[ Reply to This | # ]

iKeys
Authored by: monickels on Nov 17, '06 08:38:15AM

I have iKeys set up to launch programs. I'm a keyboard jockey from way back, so macro launchers are easiest for me.

---
Double-Tongued Word Wrester: a growing dictionary of old and new words from the fringes of English. http://www.doubletongued.org/



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iKeys
Authored by: jecwobble on Nov 19, '06 04:35:12AM

I do, too, but I only use if for a handful of most-often-used apps. Otherwise, I've been using Spotlight for apps.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Drop Drawers!
Authored by: Fanglord on Nov 17, '06 08:53:17AM

From sigsoftware.com A great little utility that has tabbed 'drawers' that slide out from the side of your screen. They can hold any type of file/information that you use.



[ Reply to This | # ]
overflow
Authored by: apprehensive on Nov 17, '06 08:58:02AM

I've gotten attached to Overflow. I have a set of apps that are always on so I just keep them in the Dock but the rest are in overflow and it's work well for me.

I should give Quicksilver a chance though.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Dock + folders
Authored by: jspivack on Nov 17, '06 08:59:10AM

I have created folders for each type of app (Office, Design, Internet, etc.), and within each of these I placed aliases to my most commonly used apps. I then put these folders in the Dock. This allows me to have relatively rapid access to my applications (ctrl-click or right-click on a Dock icon, then select the correct entry), while conserving screen area on my 12" powerbook and having relatively large icons to click on. I customized the folders' icons for better readibility.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Himmelbar...
Authored by: riccard0 on Nov 17, '06 09:15:36AM

...at least for apps. The Finder for documents.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Himmelbar...
Authored by: Yaldaboath on Nov 17, '06 02:06:10PM

Same here: Himmelbar for apps and Finder for documents.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Also HimmelBar
Authored by: torchydt on Nov 17, '06 09:27:04AM

Takes no real estate other than small menu bar icon, and gives me single click access to applications and utilities. Fantastic time saver for me.



[ Reply to This | # ]
LaunchBar, DragThing, and FruitMenu...
Authored by: DavidRavenMoon on Nov 17, '06 09:32:35AM

I use LaunchBar, DragThing, and FruitMenu, and also the Dock for the few things I use every day, like Safari and Entourage... but even them I launch with LaunchBar.

I also use SpotLight for documents.

---
G4/Digital Audio/1GHz, 1 GB, Mac OS X 10.4.8 • www.david-schwab.com



[ Reply to This | # ]
Primarily Butler, but
Authored by: capitalj on Nov 17, '06 09:38:42AM

I use Finder and Edgies almost as much.



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Himmel Bar
Authored by: Cardiakke on Nov 17, '06 10:05:21AM

Himmel Bar



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Another vote for iKey
Authored by: cfoster on Nov 17, '06 10:21:18AM
Overflow
Authored by: Jailer Joe on Nov 17, '06 11:17:27AM
I've tried and rejected them all until I met Overflow. It really is a nice little launcher.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Combo Solution
Authored by: rlicata on Nov 17, '06 11:21:23AM

I find that a combo solution works best for me. I keep all of my Apple apps (except iTunes) in TigerLaunch, accessible from the Menubar. I put my Office Suite and Adobe CS in the Dock, along with iTunes and Flock. And I use Overflow to set up groups, like IT apps, Web Apps, Social Networking Apps, etc. I never really like Quicksilver. I also have the Dock modified with Onyx to make hidden apps transparent that are in use, and set the drop shadow on the Dock. Oh, and I set the windows to Suck, since WIndows does suck. ;)



[ Reply to This | # ]
Alias Menu
Authored by: ken22 on Nov 17, '06 12:22:11PM

I use Alias Menu for launching as you can build your own drop down menus. Although the setup is different, it works like the old NowMenus or ActionMenus and is very versatile.

Actually, the concept goes back to System 5 and the old utility OnCue.



[ Reply to This | # ]
HotApp and Keyboard Maestro
Authored by: billclinton on Nov 17, '06 01:18:01PM

I find the list of options in this survey to be severely deficient, as it ignores a whole class of launcher/switchers. (OK, I haven't used _all_ of these programs, so some may have this functionality but probably not as their primary reason for being.)

The class of launcher/switchers that I find missing is the "chording" type whereby one sets a key combination and thereafter launches or switches-to the file or program or Finder folder associated with the key combination. One can also activate many system functions such as closing a window using these products. I use several of the products mentioned in the list (LaunchBar rocks), but there is simply no substitute for chording.

As an aside, I've found that the combination Shift-Option-Command-<some non-modifier key> is nearly conflict-free and is also very easy to use since that array of modifier keys is nearly the same shape as the three main finders of my left hand.

So while I use several programs on the list, the ones that I vote for are:
HotApp
Keyboard Maestro

Jerry



[ Reply to This | # ]
Spark, Keyboard Maestro
Authored by: wallsbk on Nov 17, '06 02:47:58PM

I used Keyboard maestro for years, but switched to Spark for new machines. I'm still using Keyboard Maestro on one older desktop. In both cases, I have key sequences to bring particular apps to the front.

I have QuickSilver installed, but have never warmed to using it.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Spark
Authored by: sappirance on Nov 17, '06 03:05:36PM

I use the Dock (on occasion Finder itself) to launch apps most of the time - and voted as such, but for one or two applications I use Spark since I don't want them sitting in the Dock all the time.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Quickeys
Authored by: bas.den.hond on Nov 17, '06 03:32:31PM

It's much more than a launcher, of course, but since I have it, I use it.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Make your Own Program Launcher
Authored by: notyetold on Nov 17, '06 05:02:10PM

I don't download and install any applications that can be easily created with the tools that Apple provided with OS X. There is a wealth of capabilities included in OS X that go untapped by many. There is no need to depend on other 3rd party applications to perform system maintenance, clean out caches, or even to create your own program launcher.

To create your own program launcher:

Open the Applications/AppleScript folder and launch the AppleScript Utility. Check the box to Show Script Menu in menu bar.

Next, create a folder under /Users/"Your Login"/Library/Scripts (I called it App-Menu).

Open the Applications/AppleScript/Script Editor.app and create a new script containing the following line:

do shell script ("open -a '/Applications/Chess.app'")

Save the script to the /Users/"Your Login"/Library/Scripts/App-Menu folder as Chess.

When you click on the Script Menu in the menu bar, you will see the folder you created along with the new script to launch your application listed in it.

Create as many scripts as you like for the various applications on your hard drive (iChat, iCal, iPhoto, AppleWorks, etc) and save them to the new folder you created (/Users/"Your Login"/Library/Scripts/App-Menu).




[ Reply to This | # ]
Make your Own Program Launcher
Authored by: encro on Nov 17, '06 05:11:51PM

If you are going create a one line script to run an application why not just drag an alias of the application into your scripts menu?

If you never use osascript to run things this seems like poor justification of why you never install 3rd party apps to replace functionality the OS has. It's all to do with choice and user preference. Just because you can use Applescript to launch an app it doesn't mean its the right way (nor the wrong way either).

---
Steve



[ Reply to This | # ]
Make your Own Program Launcher
Authored by: notyetold on Nov 17, '06 05:28:44PM

I am just stating _my_ preferences and providing an alternative to downloading and installing 3rd party applications to do something that can be done with the tools provided. If you don't like them, don't use them. The choice is yours.

I might have mis-understood your reply, but dragging an application onto the Script Menu in the menu bar does not create a shortcut (or alias) to the application (at least not on my system).



[ Reply to This | # ]
Make your Own Program Launcher
Authored by: notyetold on Nov 17, '06 05:39:02PM

Re-read previous entry. Dragging an "alias" into the folder will create an entry in the menu, however, the point here being that there is more than one way to do it.

I still stand by my idea of using the system tools provided. Less chance of something breaking or application incompatibilities during upgrades from 10.4.x to 10.5 (yeah, like no one has ever seen that before). No need to pay out money for something or download a 3rd party app to do something that can be accomplished with local tools. Less chance of loading buggy software written by someone else onto my system and messing it up or conflicting with other applications while it is running.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Launchers
Authored by: encro on Nov 17, '06 05:04:40PM

On the Mac I use Blacktree Quicksilver if I'm near my keyboard or just the dock if in mouse range. Its a clever mix of functionality with an extensible plugin system.

On Windows I use Bayden SlickRun. It lacks the automated file-updating features of Launchy but is blistering fast and very efficient once setup. Only 176KB in size.

---
Steve



[ Reply to This | # ]
Dock AND Butler
Authored by: S Barman on Nov 17, '06 07:37:38PM

One of the problems with this poll is that the dock has the most used programs and I use Butler for other items. In talking with friends, they also use the dock and something else. Maybe the poll should be adjusted to reflect that scenario.



[ Reply to This | # ]
qs+finder
Authored by: Peganthyrus on Nov 17, '06 07:44:59PM

Quicksilver for some things. Especially most apps.
Documents tend to get opened via the Finder.
Or via the 'recent files' menu item in an app. Illustrator kicks ass because it has the 'recent files' menu available in the Dock menu; I wish more stuff would do that!



[ Reply to This | # ]
qs+finder
Authored by: seb2 on Nov 18, '06 06:02:09AM

Same thing here, never got rid of the habit to use the Finder to open documents. I do have five or six absolutely essential apps in the Dock, but I use QuickSilver most of the time to launch apps.

QuickSilver simply is a dream. Wouldn't want to miss it for a day.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Emacs-launcher
Authored by: jochen Küpper on Nov 18, '06 07:44:43AM

I actually start most program runs from Emacs (Aquamacs that is); that's because I do all my writing (LaTeX) and programming (C++, python) in Emacs and start everything I need (latex, bibtex, preview, g++, python, gdb, ...) directly from there... Typically I even start Illustrator from emacs' dired mode.

Maybe not Mac-like, but very Unix-like! That's why I like my Mac;)

I should say that I do start Mail, iCal, Safari ... from the Dock, but that doesn't happen that often, as they always run.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Overflow
Authored by: offline on Nov 18, '06 09:52:23AM

I've licensed most of the other apps in the primary list, but this is the one I find I use constantly. I keep Butler running as a docklet, but its removal would be no loss.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Drop Drawers
Authored by: edbolson on Nov 18, '06 09:58:05AM
http://www.sigsoftware.com/
Have used this for a long time. Actually, I probably use the Dock the most, but I have most of my primary applications in one drawer, games in another, and media applications in another.

I also use and love QuickSilver, but was only given one choice.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Himmelbar
Authored by: ars on Nov 18, '06 04:06:24PM

Used Butler before, but it takes too long to load. Tried Quicksilver too, but I am a mouse user and not keyboard shortcut one.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Butler+Spotlight
Authored by: gedalin on Nov 19, '06 05:15:00AM

I use Butler for launching applications and Spotlight for searching and opening files. If I know where the file is and it is quickly accessible I use Finder.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Very suprised that Spotlight doesn't rank higher
Authored by: eno on Nov 19, '06 02:38:33PM

Thought it would.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DockLauncher
Authored by: graemeaustin on Nov 20, '06 01:22:37AM

It takes up little space and I find it more intuitive to head to the dock than fly up to the menu bar.

If anyone is interested, I also use Butler to give me direct access to some apps via the menubar (the kind I don't use often but when I do I need immediate access).

Graeme



[ Reply to This | # ]
F10 Launch Studio
Authored by: landis on Nov 20, '06 03:05:20PM
http://www.chronosnet.com/Products/f10_product.html

Saw it at MacWorld a couple years ago, been with me ever since.

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