LaunchBar 4.1 (from $19.95) is an extremely interesting product! It is a “smart and powerful tool designed to provide lightning fast access to thousands of files, web-bookmarks, email-addresses and applications just by entering short abbreviations.”
One of the things that I have had to get used to since buying my PowerBook is the whole concept of searching. It is something that I just never really had a need for with Windows – if I didn’t file it exactly where I wanted it to be I may as well forget ever finding it again. With the Mac it is just so more relaxed – let OS X stick things wherever it wants and use a product like LaunchBar to find it. Believe me, this is as different as “night and day” for us Windows guys!
It is a habit that I have actually really struggled to adopt, especially as I still use Windows based PC’s about 20% of the time, so this review was a little harder than others, although the product is pretty easy to use. I say pretty easy rather than really easy as there are a number of options and preferences that can be set up, and I suggest that you take the time to do so as one of the things I came to love the most about LaunchBar was how adaptable it was to my specific Mac usage. The documentation is excellent and neatly divided into four areas:
– Configure; Define your needs,
– Locate; Find information instantly,
– Navigate; Show related information,
– Operate; Access what you’ve found.
Something I always do when reviewing a product is to read feedback that has been left by other users, partly to ensure that I don’t repeat too much of what has been written before, but mainly to gain an overall view of people’s thoughts on the product. The overall rating for LaunchBar is deservedly high, but I was left with a feeling that it is a “love it or hate it product”. Obviously in the reviews the majority loved it, and I can see why, but perversely I can also understand why people hated it. At times it really did seem too “clever” and overcomplicated for me. The obvious comparison for me is with Spotlight which has always given me pretty much what I needed, and I must confess that it is still my personal preference, BUT for the more advanced “power user” I would imagine that LaunchBar would be a much more attractive proposition. The main frustration that I had was that it scanned the applications on every restart or start up, but apart from that it was very smooth to use.