How to Launch Any Program Quickly Without Cluttering Up Your Dock or Desktop!

If you are running Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), Spotlight, the indexing and searching tool, has been sped up enough that it’s now quick and easy to use it as an application launcher. So much faster, indeed, that I no longer install QuickSilver (a good solution prior to Leopard) on any of my Macs. And once you become proficient using this technique, you’ll be able to launch apps faster than by using the mouse!

Declutter Your Dock To The Max!


My dock now only contains the icons of programs that are actually running, much like Windows’ Taskbar, along with a couple of “stacks” and the Trash. This reduces clutter and makes life a lot easier. Your dock can be the same if you follow this advice.

Two Keys And You’re Away!


All you need to press to get going is Command and Space (see above). Make sure you press Command before Space. You can press these at any time while using your Mac to open the Spotlight search bar at the top of your screen:


Once the spotlight bar is open, just start typing the name of the application you want to run. For example, let’s start to type “calculator” (without the quotes!) After typing just one letter, I already have Calculator selected and showing as the top application!


Now just press the Enter key and Calculator will be launched.

More Advanced Scenarios

For most applications, it is not going to be the case that they will appear with just a single keypress. After all, you’re likely to have more than 26 applications on your computer, and other types of document might even pop up first instead of applications! As such, you need to make sure the thing that’s highlighted as the “Top Hit” is actually what you want to run. If it’s not, keep typing more of the name of the application you want to run. So if Calculator doesn’t appear when you press “c,” keep typing the rest of the word.. a l c u l.. and so on, until Calculator appears!

In rare cases you might type the name of an application and still not have it selected. If so, it’s likely the application will be showing on the menu anyway, but not be selected. If this is the case, just use the up and down arrow keys to select what you want and then press Enter.

Eventually these actions will become second nature, even if they initially seem slow, as Spotlight is clever enough to get a feel for what you are searching for and will improve its results as time goes by. Once proficient, you’ll be able to launch applications far quicker than by using the mouse and have a clean dock!

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Comments (2)

There’s a better way: The fabulous and wonderful Quicksilver.

Infinite programable keyboard shortcuts. i.e.: to open Safari, i just press alt+cmd+S.
Your memory to learn all of keyboard shortcuts you’ve made is the limit.

Tomas Leal — October 11th, 2008

Don’t forget Stacks.
Leopard has it native.
“Emulate” it in Tiger:
Find a folder you’d like to be able to drill down into quickly from anywhere like, say, “Downloads” or “Applications.” Or even your whole harddrive.
Drag that folder (or your HD icon) down to the Dock to the *immediate* left of the Trashcan & then drop it there (if you’ve got other Stacked folders there, they can be drag-rearranged within that small right-most Stack space).
Now, get your mouse down to the dock, & then left-click & HOLD the click on the folder you dropped there.
An up-listing of the folder shows up.
Navigate into or out of any of that folder’s subfolders.
Let go of the mouse button on a subfolder inside your new dock folder. That folder will open up in Finder. Let go of the mouse button on top of an app. The app opens up.
Handy to have…..

I started out in Macs in the 80s, then went to the Dark Side for manyseveral years, & now I’m BACK. No more windoz$e for me….
However, Mac is kinda short on intrinsic shortcuts, so this Tiger “faux stacking” is something I found just by dinkin’ around, & it’s somewhat of a shortcut & it’s pretty useful.

Opera. The Norweigan browser that OTHER browser developers around the world go to for ideas!
Where originality is the norm. *VERY* un-Microsoft-like!
Proud Norweigan-heritage user since Opera’s 1998 / v3.x days.

KevinKendall-{[A.T]} — December 7th, 2008

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