Launchy is an open source keystroke launcher for Windows. You press a magic key combo (e.g., Win-A, in my case) and a little dialog pops up, in which you can type commands and have them run.
It is very similar to hitting the Windows key in Windows 8.1 or 10 and just typing – it searches through a local database of your files and applications so you can quickly find things and launch or open them.
I am four months into my first Windows 10 machine. Unfortunately, Launchy hasn’t been updated for a while and doesn’t work as gracefully in Windows 10 as I would like:
- It doesn’t deal gracefully with high-resolution, 4K displays. Fixable with some tweaks though.
- Starting applications on high resolution displays seems to load them in a weird mode where they are blurry. Probably workaround-able.
- Win-A is bound to the notification panel on the right hand side, for example, and it doesn’t really deal gracefully with very high resolution displays.
As a result, I have been forcing myself to use the native Windows 10 search, but I find it totally inferior to Launchy in many ways.
Most critically for me, Launchy has some basic tracking on how often you open particular things after you’ve started typing. So it learns, quickly and effectively, what you want to open after you’ve just typed a few letters. Contrast this to Windows 10, where to open my password safe, I have to type
pwsafe.exe every single time. (I have to add the `.exe` otherwise it will open the directory in Explorer).
The usability advantages that this confers don’t sound like a big deal, but after something like seven+ years of running Launchy, I find it impossible to go back.
Anyway, I’ve been going through the various other open source alternatives to Launchy that have popped up in the last few years, and thought I’d just jot them down so the next time I go looking, I have a handy list of them.
- LaunchyQt, a promising-looking fork of the base Launchy, with some more modern features.
- Wox, probably my next pick. Looks pretty solid.
- Hain, since discontinued. Built with Electron so probably less lean than some alternatives.
There are some non-open source ones as well that might be worth a look if one is less fussy than I am – Keypirinha, Listary, and Executor.