Quick Launch Utilities
If you, like me, keep installing programs maniacally, your Start menu will be with at least three columns listing of software apps (that’s for a 17’ display, I recently got a 19’ and there are just two columns at the time of this writing). Even if you keep the programs sorted by name, sometimes it is difficult to find fast the app you need, especially if it is hidden in a submenu. Well, there are various free solutions for this problem and I am glad I found something better than the standard Run (WinKey+R). Here are all the launchers I have tried and find useful [they are listed in a historical order of my acquaintance with them].
From the author: SlickRun is a free floating command line utility for Windows. SlickRun gives you almost instant access to any program or website. SlickRun allows you to create command aliases (known as MagicWords), so C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\msimn.exe becomes MAIL. Enter a web URL into SlickRun and it will launch your browser and navigate to the specified address. Run multiple programs in a few keystrokes, jot a note, look up a definition... SlickRun is the most natural way to interact with your computer.
My Opinion: Great program, I played with it a lot and found that actually with a bit of training and a bit of upfront preparation it can become a great time saver. I wondered where I should put it on the screen, and after finding no place that is permanently suitable, I realized that I may make it 90% transparent when inactive and now it looks only as a nice background in the lower right corner of my screen. If you don’t mind remembering magic words, this program is for you.
Find and Run Robot
From the author: Find and Run Robot is a program for keyboard maniacs - it helps you rapidly find programs or documents from within the depths of the start menu (or other directories). One key press launches the utility - then just start typing the first letters of the application you want to launch. As you type the best matches are shown - just hit the number to launch the associated program. Notable features include: (*) Fully customizable search paths (search your entire hard disk for files as well as apps) (*) Fast incremental searches, with memorized search history helps you find the files you need quickly. (*) Completely customizable heuristic scoring metrics - tune the program to search the way you think. (*) Add your own custom alias groups. (*) Low system overhead, doesn't mess with your registry. (*) Unobtrusive and stays out of your way in the system tray until you need it.
My Opinion: Quite intelligent and tweakable program. I especially like the customizable search paths and the fact that I can launch from it not only apps but also documents I recently opened. I found that strangely I can’t open some apps like MS Word, this looks like a bug, concerning some of the (.lnk) files.
From the author: Launchy is a free windows utility designed to help you forget about your start menu. Instead of digging through your start menu for that program you can never find, wouldn't it be easier to just type a few characters of the program's name and be done with it? With Launchy you can. Imagine that you wanted to run Microsoft Word. You simply bring the program forward with Alt+Space, enter 'mword' and Microsoft Word is automatically found in your start menu. If you hit enter the program launches!
My Opinion: Simple and fast program. It may take a little to get used how to search effectively for a program you need, but when you do it a few times, you will just start using it. And the Alt+Space shortcut is turbo geeky (
Each of those programs has its strengths and a few very little annoyances so I keep them all by my side and just use the one that’s most appropriate for the task. I have heard that some people recommended also QuickStart but I found that it’s way of starting an app feels a bit awkward.