workspace-flodi

toggle-button
 
In a Hurry?
  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
Introduction
Program Launchers try to provide a more efficient way of running programs than by using the Windows Start Menu or having your desktop littered with icons. The approach adopted varies from product to product and ranges from dockable windows to tray icons through to keyword typing.  None of the solutions is perfect; each has its strengths and weaknesses. The suggestions will be divided in five sub categories: keyword search, keyword command, panels, menus and docks. 
Discussion

Launchy is currently the top product in the keyword search sub category class.  Recently upgraded to version 2, it is simple to understand, simple to configure, simple to use, simple to extend, not intrusive at all, open source. And it has a really small memory footprint too.

With Launchy you can not only launch applications but also--using the same keyword philosophy--launch your preferred media player with a specific MP3 file; invoke your preferred desktop search tool while entering a search term of your choice; have your preferred browser open on a specific bookmark or page from the history. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Even if version 2 of Launchy is less stable than the version 1 (many people still use the last version 1 iteration!), the other contenders in comparison fails in configurability or indexing performance. The only viable alternative is Find and Run Robot (FARR). It's actually a very similar product and now version 2 makes it the most powerful t. I still rank Launchy as the category winner because of its ease of use, while FARR is reccomended only to power users. Only power users will be able to understand and exploit the full potential of FARR. While average users may find it difficult to perform the fundamental task of configuring FARR to suit their individual needs, power users will be delighted with the huge possibilities of customization, including full support for plugins, and the scoring mechanism that goes well beyond the simple extension mechanism of Launchy.

In the keyword command sub category the clear winner is Enso. Even if almost all the keyword launch programs offers a way to configure commands, they are inadequate in comparison with Enso. And when you'll be accustomed to his unique quasimodal interface, you'll ask your self why no one thinked about it before!

Coming to the panels sub category there are a lot of good choices, remarkably FSL Launcher, Fast Launcher and 8Start. But the last exceed his contenders in many key areas like footprint and functionalities.

In the menus sub category, based on readers suggestion I've had to change my mind and suggest as the best solution Free Launch Bar: this little piece of software is exctremely stable and will give you extacly what you want form it. A good conteneder is JetStart, but the free version is limited to 5 pre-set general categories.

finally, the docks sub category. I have to admit I'm not an user of these type of launchers, so my tests are limited. But I can say that a good choiche is RocketDock. It is weel supported, has a small memory footprint and can do whatever you expect from a dock. Another choiche could be Magic Formation (tank you Anonymous reader!). it is really incredible. it comes from nowhere and have already got a recommednation in lifehacker.com, compliments! Both are winners!

Quick Selection Guide

Launchy    Rating 8 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   Simple and fast
Cons   Some glitches since version 2
Developer Home Page   http://www.launchy.net/
Download link   http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=132975
File Size      Version 2.1.2   License Type Open Source Freeware (includes program code)   Installation Requirements
Portable version available   Portable version available

Find and Run Robot    Rating 8 of 10

Pros   Very powerful, search directly the disk and not an index
Cons   Not so easy to configure, search directly the disk and not an index
Developer Home Page   http://www.donationcoder.com/Software/Mouser/findrun/
Download link   http://www.donationcoder.com/Software/Mouser/findrun/downloads/FindAndRunRobotSetup.exe
File Size      Version 2.48.01   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements

Enso    Rating 8 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   Incredible interface
Cons    
Developer Home Page   http://www.humanized.com/enso/launcher/
Download link   http://www.humanized.com/installers/EnsoLauncher.exe
File Size      Version 1.0   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements

FSL Launcher    Rating 7 of 10

Pros    
Cons    
Developer Home Page   http://fsl.sytes.net/launcher.html
Download link   http://fsl.sytes.net/dc/download.php?id=13
File Size      Version 1.1.4.4   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements

Fast Launcher    Rating 7 of 10

Pros    
Cons    
Developer Home Page   http://www.dvasoft.com/fast_launcher/
Download link   http://www.dvasoft.com/download/
File Size      Version 3.5   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements

8Start    Rating 8 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros    
Cons    
Developer Home Page   http://www.8start.com/
Download link   http://www.freewarefiles.com/downloads_counter.php?programid=17119
File Size      Version 1.8   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements

Free Launch Bar    Rating 8 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros    
Cons    
Developer Home Page   http://www.freelaunchbar.com/
Download link   http://www.freelaunchbar.com/download.php
File Size      Version 1.0   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements

JetStart    Rating 7 of 10

Pros    
Cons    
Developer Home Page   http://www.codesector.com/jetstart.php
Download link   http://www.codesector.com/download.php
File Size      Version 4.4   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements

RocketDock    Rating 8 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros    
Cons    
Developer Home Page   http://rocketdock.com/
Download link   http://rocketdock.com/download
File Size      Version 1.3.5   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements

Magic formation    Rating 8 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros    
Cons    
Developer Home Page   http://tokyodownstairs.blogspot.com/2008/03/magic-formation.html
Download link   http://www.tokyodownstairs.com/binary/mform_0981e.zip
File Size      Version 0.981e   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements

 

Please rate this article: 

Your rating: None
0
No votes yet