A launcher is simply a utility, application, or feature which gives Mac users quick access to, well, utilities, applications, or features. The Dock is OS X’s official launcher. My favorite launcher is DragThing. Launchers for Mac users these days have become sophisticated eye candy. This one is free.
Launch Me, Scotty
The Dock has limitations. It’s good at storing the icons of frequently used applications and documents, yes. It runs out of real estate quickly if you have plenty of applications and documents.
The Dock is decent at visual cues. It shows you which applications are open, how many email messages in your inbox, and so on. Stick an alias or shortcut of your Mac’s applications folder in the Dock, and you’ve got a poor man’s launcher.
App4Mac is a Mac software company with a suite of Mac utilities which focus on that sweet combination of ease of use, usefulness, and eye candy.
RapidoStart is their freeware Mac launcher. If the Dock is old hat and you want more but don’t want to spend money, RapidoStart is a start.
New Mac users will love the step by step process for installation, walking through the tutorial, and setting up RapidoStart. Once installed, you’ll see a small green button in the lower right corner of you’re Mac’s screen. Click it and get started.
Clicking the RapidoStart start button pops open a window, slickly charcoal in nature, and waiting for applications and utilities. It’s drag and drop or dialog box, your choice.
Drag what you want from the Finder into the RapidoStart window. That’s your launcher. Easy, huh?
Whenever you want to launch an application or utility that’s not in your Dock, click the green button for the pop up, or use a hot key combination to bring up the RapidoStart window.
RapidoStart’s preferences are extensive or a freeware utility. Click on the arrow in the lower right corner of the pop up window.
Choices are many. Set the number of icons per page, organize pages by category, change the location of the green start button, even modify how RapidoStart moves from one page of icons to another.
Remarkably, even simple applications and utilities come with plenty of features, seldom with quality tutorials. With one exception, RapidoStart’s tutorial is superb.
Select Tutorial from the pop down Preferences and you get an attractive screen that walks you through RapidoStart’s interface and features.
That’s it. Your Mac now has a new application and utility launcher that handles multiple pages of icons. It’s like a floating, on-demand Dock which can be organized. It’s attractive, simple to set up, easy to learn.
So, how many launchers do we need on our Macs? I outgrew the Dock very quickly, though I still use it, but only for Apple’s applications. The Documents section has alias shortcut icons for Documents, Desktop, Utilities, Downloads and Applications.
Click and hold an icon in the Documents section and it opens a scroll window with a list of what’s inside. Click the icon once and it pops up with a list of what’s inside.
Regardless of what you use to launch files, besides the Dock, there’s always an extra click or two to get to the files—applications, utilities, documents—that you want. Or, depending on your launcher of choice, extra keystrokes.
The reason we do this is because there’s no other way. Maybe voice command? My DragThing implementation doesn’t require a click or a hot key. I just move the mouse to the side of the screen and DragThing pops up.
Like all the App4Mac software, RapidoStart is attractive, useful, easy to set up, easy to use, and comes with a very straightforward tutorial. These folks know their eye candy.
How many ways can you skin a cat (or, launch something on your Mac)? Plenty. Some cost money. Some don’t. Among those that don’t, RapidoStart is a value.