I suppose I’m not unusual in that on my Windows system, I have so many applications installed that my Start Menu, when expanded, covers my entire screen?

How do you find stuff in your start menu? I sometimes scan the entire list several times – forwards and backwards – and still not find the application I’m looking for. Little wonder, I’m sure I have something like 600 items in my Start menu.

Application launchers can help with this problem, and can do much more besides. I’ll cover Launchy here, but there are others equally worth investigating.

What is it?

Launchy is a small utility that starts when your Windows desktop loads (it is put into your Startup Folder), and is completely invisible until you use it. It scans the contents of your start menu and some other folders, as well as any other folders you specify.

Then What?

To use Launchy, you press Alt+Space together; this will bring the Launchy window to the foreground. Then press the first letter of the name of the application you wish to launch. You will be presented with a scrollable, drop down list of possibilities to choose from. If you press the second letter of the application name, you will be presented with more refined choices. Select your choice, then press Enter. The application starts, and the Launchy window will close.


Is that all?

That in itself is quite useful, but Launchy does far more. For starters, it doesn’t arrange applications in alphabetical order – it arranges them by frequency of use, too, so items you use often will appear near the top of the list.

Launchy can also open folders – for example, typing ‘my’ into Launchy will bring up a list that includes ‘My Documents’, ‘My Pictures’ and so on.

You can associate file types with Launchy, so it will index your music, picture files or bookmarks – you could also index your documents or scripts. So, you can launch a document, a web page or an audio file by typing its name into Launchy.Launchy is skinnable, so you can choose a look that fits your system (including some Vista themes) and comes with documentation. There is also some discussion and help in the support forums.

What do I need to use Launchy?

Windows XP, or Windows 2000. If you use Windows 2000 you’ll need to download gdiplus.dll from Microsoft if you don’t already have it on your system, then just put it in the Launchy directory.

How much does it cost?

Nothing. Like all the best software, Launchy is opensource and free.




SlickRun at

Colibri at

Quicksilver (OSX) at

One thought on “Launchy

  1. Check out Keybreeze as well. It’s a fairly new program (I think) that has many more features than Launchy and other program launchers. I’ve used it for a few months now and absolutely love it.

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