Launchbar is a program that has been around since at the early 2000s or in other words quite some time. During that time it has evolved significantly to become the powerful and important program it is today. Powerful in terms of what you can do with it and important as it is the most mature and complete of the launchers. To sum it up, this is very good software and is only going to get better when they release version 6 of the code.
At its heart, Launcbar is a Launcher
Launchbar is exactly what its name implies and that is it is a launcher which I’ll briefly discuss however, will say, up front, that it is far more than a launcher. As a launcher it does exactly what you’d expect; launch programs. By invoking a couple of keystrokes such as command-space om you could launch OmniFocus.
Launchbar learns. It might learn that om is Outlook Mail. You can always quickly assign the keys so it doesn’t have to go through the learning process. Thus, from the get go Launchbar is if nothing else flexible.
Launchbar, as I said is so much more than a launcher. It has as powerful a clipboard as any clipboard manager on the market and will easily handle images which I should point out its competition Alfred can’t.
The clipboard is configurable and can even paste back one item after another if you’d like. You can just browse the clipboard; paste from it; or paste and delete in one shot an item.
Launchbar is a very adept and handy calculator. There is no need for a stand alone clipboard when you have Launchbar. Finally you can paste the results of the output anywhere throughout your system.
Probably one of my most favourite and least well understood functions of Launchbar is instant send. Using Launchbar you can move information or files through out your system.
Suppose as an example you have set in OmniFocus a reminder to pick up groceries at 5 pm. OmniFocus doesn’t have an alarm function for this purpose. All you need do is highlight the item, use instant send and send the info to Due as an example while at the same time setting all the reminder times in due. In no time you’ve set up your reminder.
There are so many functions for instant send I could not possibly list them but just to give you one more example. With that same info from OmniFocus you could begin a note in Evernote or an email in Outlook.
With Instant send you have even more flexibility and function. You can program in Launchbar a Fantastical calendar item. By setting up Fantastical in Launcbar’s preferences your able to send or create a calendar item in Fantastical. You can actually take information from an item, say Evernote then send it to Launchbar then send it to Fantastical fully programmed as a calendar item.
The savings in time and the reduction in errors is dramatic once you get on to this function. By sending something via Launcbar’s instant send you save so much time that the function will rapidly become second nature to you even though in the beginning it feels very foreign.
WorkFlows via Automator
This is a new and extremely valuable Launchbar function that extends the power of Launchbar tremendously. In Launchbar you can invoke an AppleScript or Automator routine. However, a workflow in Automator is a step beyond this.
In Launcbar you will invoke an Automator workflow as a service and will have input control over the automator action. This can lead to many things but just as a simple example let’s say you wanted to insert variable text in your automator function. To do this you would set the Launchbar/Automator routine to accept as an input text. When you invoke your workflow you would have Automator input the text you output upon activation of the Launchbar routine.
Workflows are new territory for the program and people will inevitably come up with more and more interesting workflows. For the purposes of this discussion this is merely demonstrate that Launchbar is much more than your Launching an application utility.
A Seemingly Endless Journey
Although with Launchbar it can seem like a seemingly endless journey as where does it stop. What will happen is you will find a ground that suits you and your needs and there you’ll basically at least make a pit stop. There will always be times that you will venture out and add to your repertoire but at the same time you will find your balance of function that is ultimately useful to you.
What is wonderful about Launchbar is you can get your first new Mac, add Launchbar immediately and use it from the get go. As time passes you’ll think of the things you could implement and do that at your own pace so that it suits you and becomes a natural part of your rhythm.
You might find at times you wander from Launchbar and try say Alfred. Alfred is a good program and kind of cute. In reality it is no Launchbar and Launchbar can do everything Alfred can but the reverse is not true.
However, I do use, at the same time, Keyboard Maestro and this is your powerhouse automation tool. This tool does not work at odds with Launchbar. Launchbar is not meant to do what Keyboard Maestro can do. Yet, for many things, Launchbar is the more suitable tool and that’s what you’ll use. Yet, if you do use Keyboard Maestro you will, with use, not be able to live without this automation tool. It can do everything under the sun and then some. Launchbar and Keyboard Maestro make a great combo team for the power user in you.
Launchbar is a structured program yet it is also a flexible program. The way you end up using Launchbar is entirely up to you and how it can best meet your needs. No two people might use it identically.
This is part of what makes it wonderful. I couldn’t imagine my Mac without Launchbar. I couldn’t imagine it without Keyboard Maestro but I’ve written extensively about this program. Launchbar is just one of those have to have programs that adds to your journey with your Mac.