Launchy, Keylink and other slick things
Windows 7 includes a much smoother program launch start bar, compared to its predecessors. Just click the Win key on the keyboard and start typing, and the program or the document that you are thinking of shows up. Very slick.
Very slick, but obviously not slick enough, when I still continue to use Launchy – the keystroke launcher program, and when many of my friends continue to use SlickRun and Keylink. (This post isn’t about comparing these launchers, it is just to show their value compared to solutions inbuilt in OS. My informal comparison of these 3 has been added as a comment.) Launchers used to be absolutely critical with the previous versions of Windows, and although 7 has a great start bar, there are some ways in which custom launchers still hold the edge. Since launching a program or a document is an activity that you do hundreds of times a day, even a half a second of saving in that is sufficient to consider a specialized program. So, what are Launchy’s advantages compared to Windows 7 inbuilt launcher?
Primarily, it is the speed. Launchy is just the launch bar, minus the start menu. So, it shows up faster. Also, it looks for only the programs (although you can add other things to its search catalog), so the search speed is faster.
Then, there is the issue of command line arguments. In many launchers, you can start typing “Firefox” or “Google” and then type the search phrase, and that will launch the browser, and search for the given phrase. This would save you more than half a second compared to a native solution, but this is also a slightly lesser used scenario, since most of us have a browser open most of the time.
Then there is this small matter: Launchy’s box comes up in the center of the screen. Windows Start menu’s start box is at the bottom left corner at the bottom of a large (and distracting) search menu. As the screens are becoming larger, this is a slightly larger issue. When we want to launch a program, the launch process should be as small an interruption as possible.
[One slight modification I make to Launchy right after installing it: I change the hot key to Ctrl Alt Space, instead of Alt Space, since I frequently use Alt Space C to close programs.]