Listeners to Mac Power Users will know I love applications launchers. I started using Quicksilver but when active development stagnated I moved over to LaunchBar and happily used that as my launcher of choice for several years. We devoted one of our earliest episodes of Mac Power Users to LaunchBar. But, when Alfred 2 came out I switched in order to prep for that Mac Power Users episode and found myself drawn to the new interface and never went back. When I heard LaunchBar was coming out with a new version with a redesigned look, I jumped on the opportunity to dive. The folks at Objective Development did not disappoint, running LaunchBar 6 has been like coming home again.
The LaunchBar 6 interface has been completely redesigned and it is gorgeous. Personally, I prefer the “frosted” theme but there are a few different options to choose from, including a “dark” mode. (I really like the dark theme too.) LaunchBar still has the same power user features of previous versions including the ability to quickly access application, documents, contacts, bookmarks (including 1Password logins), web searches and manage clipboard history. In addition to simply finding and opening documents, LaunchBar brings powerful file management features allowing you to interact with your files. But version 6 also brings several new features, most notably the ability to extend LaunchBar’s function with Extensions. With these script-based actions, the possibilities are almost endless. Users can write their own Extensions using common scripting languages (including AppleScript) or install actions written by other users or developers.
Since WWDC and the introduction of enhancements to Spotlight, severeral people have asked me if application launchers have been “Sherlocked” by Apple. With the continued innovation and care from developers like those at Objective Development, I think it’s safe to say the answer, at least for Mac Power Users, is a definitive no. Personally, I’m thrilled to see Apple bring more features to Spotlight as it will make it a better tool and increase productivity for all Mac users. But even with its new bag of tricks, Spotlight can’t hold a candle to the productivity, file management and App integration features in a dedicated and well developed launcher App like LaunchBar.
LaunchBar requires Mavericks and costs $29 with upgrade pricing available. There is a 30 day free trial but beyond that the full feature set is accessible without registration but there will be a delay when triggering certain actions. You can find more information at the Objective Development site.