Timesavers: Launchy

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

This is part of an ongoing series on Timesavers. The goal is simple: short, easily-digestible posts designed to help developers get faster and more productive

Launchy is in my top 5 favorite applications, ever. Simply put, it makes it braindead simple to "do stuff" with just the keyboard. Some of the things I use it for:

  • Running bat files
  • Opening applications (Eclipse, Fireworks, TweetDeck, etc)
  • Opening/executing RDP shortcuts
  • Quickly navigating to directories

To use launchy, you simply hit "alt space", and the launchy window pops up. You start typing, and it looks in its cache for stuff that matches what you're typing. When you find something, you hit "enter". Your "thing" launches. That's it.

Here's what it looks like:

Once installed, Launchy by default will scan everything in your "All Programs" in the Start Menu. However, it's highly configurable, and this is where it shines.

To register anything with Launchy:

  1. pop up Launchy with "alt space"
  2. click the "gear" icon in the top right
  3. click the "catalog" tab
  4. In the "Directories" box, you can use the "+" and "-" buttons to add directories. Once a directory is selected, you can add the File Types in that directory to add to the catalog. I commonly use .bat, .lnk (those are windows shortcuts), .rdp, and .exe
  5. Then you click "Rescan Catalog" and you're set! (you can set it to auto-scan the catalog every X minutes. Play around in the "General" tab to find out how)


Remember the "Bat File Timesaver" post? At the end, I said that there was a better way to launch bat files. You can launch them with no mouse clicks at all by simply registering them with Launchy! For example, in the screenshot above, I started typing "ecl" to launch eclipse. But I don't launch eclipse with its executable; instead, I launch it with a bat file that contains certain settings:


c:\eclipse_34_rcp\eclipse.exe -showlocation -vm "C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.6.0_12\bin\javaw.exe" -vmargs -Xmx512M -XX:MaxPermSize=256m -XX:+AggressiveOpts -XX:+UseParallelOldGC -XX:ParallelGCThreads=2 -XX:ThreadPriorityPolicy=1 -Xverify:none

This file lives with all my other bat files in a directory somewhere on my file system. So to register this and the others with Launchy, I just add that bat file directory in the "Catalog" tab, add the .bat file type, and hit Rescan. Done! Now, when I want to launchy eclipse, I simply hit "alt space" and start typing "eclipse" and up it will pop.

Here's what the config looks like:

Easy access to directories

If you find yourself accessing certain directories over and over again, you may have created a shortcut to that directory. Then you point and double-click to open it. You can shorten this even further by adding directories into Launchy. For example, I poke around in the mxunit and mxunit-cfmeetups directories all the time. Rather than point and click to them, I use launchy. For example, if I want to get into the "plugindemotests" directory inside of mxunit, I hit "alt space" to pop up Launchy, then start typing "plu" and it'll autofill that directory. I hit enter, and it opens in Windows Explorer. So far, I've added a lot of common directories and I've seen no slowdown in launchy's ability to find just what I'm looking for.

To configure launchy for directories, just add a directory into the "Directories" box, and on the left hand side, don't add any file types. Instead, check the "Include Directories" checkbox.

Here's what launchy looks like after adding a Directory:

Alt Space, baby!


Jim Priest said...

App launchers are great tools! I use FARR (Find and Run Robot) at work and Gnome Do at home.

Also have quite a few keys assigned to AutoHotKey to fire off apps and scripts.

billy said...

Nice! Funny how I love stuff like this, but soooooo many folks I work with are so freakin' resistant to doing anything different, whether it helps or not, I wonder how they get anything done ...

Keep 'em coming!


Marc Esher said...

@jim, are those apps linux-only?

@billy, what got me on this timesaver thing was having spent a lot of time working on other people's computers lately at work. I go to do stuff (like alt-space for launchy) and stuff isn't there and it's like working with my hands chopped off.

Jim Priest said...

FARR is Windows (check out donationcoder.com). It's like Launchy but much more tweakable...

Gnome Do is Linux.

shiznit said...

Deez nutz...dat shiznit's phat yo!