The less time you use the mouse the faster you can navigate a computer. That said, sometimes keyboard shortcuts are not enough. When you need to launch programs or search for a file quickly for example. Enter in Launchy, the open source application launcher.

Launchy: What is it and how it works

Luanchy Default ThemeLaunchy is a program that lets you open programs and files on your computer. All you have to do is press the keyboard shortcut (Default is alt+space) and start typing the name of the program or file. You can add new files to the program’s search database, but any program that adds items to the start menu or desktop should automatically be added.

You can download Launchy form its website. After installing let the program build a database. The time this takes will depend on how many programs you have installed.

Program Settings

Luanchy General SettingsThe first thing you will want to do after installing is go through the settings. To do so, press alt+space on your keyboard. This will open up the search window. Before typing anything click the gear icon in the topmost right hand corner.

In the general settings you will find the ability to edit the user interface, setup internet proxy settings, control how many options appear in the suggestion list, and some general options for how the program behaves.

These settings are explanatory for the most part.

The next tab is the skin settings, you can customize the way the program looks here. You can find new skins on Devientart. Just place the skin’s folder in the program’s skin folder (Default: C:\Program Files (x86)\Launchy\skins).

Launchy Settings Search DatabaseThe catalog is where things get interesting. This is Launchy’s heart.

Launchy will scan the files in the directories you chose. If the file matches the file types set in the list to the right, it will appear when you type. Press the plus (+) sign to add new paths and file types and minus (-) sign to remove them. Including executables will allow you to directly launch a program, but I recommend that you use shortcuts to do such work. Directories will let you search the directories and launch an explorer window to them. I recommend that you keep this unchecked as well.

Launchy Settings PluginsThe last tab is for Plugins. These extend Launchy’s abilities beyond what it can do be default. This includes Calcy for performing math calculations and Weby for searching the web directly from Launchy. As there is too much variation with plugins, they will not be covered here. You can toggle them on and off with the check boxes in the left window.

Now you can launch any program on your computer from the keyboard. You will save time, improve your typing speed, and not have to deal with the start menu.

What would you like us to cover next?

Many value a computer mouse over a keyboard nowadays. There is less to remember and the use of menus give us easy access to everything we need. We even have touch screens now that can save us seconds of time now that we do not need to drag the mouse across the mouse pad. With all of this innovation many do not even see the value of a keyboard, with the exception of typing and the few shortcuts that they know. The truth is that keyboard shortcuts are not only for computer geeks and they increase ones speed more than any touch screen could ever dream.

Many who will read this will know their fair share of keyboard shortcuts, however many people only know few, if any, shortcuts.

In my brief experience with the Vim text editor I learned to love my keyboard. Shortcuts allow you to get things done much faster with just a few keystrokes. A control+c here saves two clicks and a shift+control+directional key will allow you to select a few words without you needing to leave the keyboard. The speed took some time to master, keyboard shortcuts are many and require some time to learn, but the results well made up for the time.

I have talked about the application launcher Launchy before (If you are on a Linux system with KDE you can use Krunner), it allows you to launch programs without leaving the keyboard. Application launchers paired up with a working knowledge of shortcuts can lead you to a place where you do not need to reach for the mouse so often. Knowing your shortcuts can greatly increase your productivity in work, school, and even in play.

Wikipedia has an exhaustive list of universal keyboard shortcuts that I highly recommend you take a look at. In the future I will post more on keyboard shortcuts and how to make your own.