If you've ever watched a Western film, you know there's always a scene where the good cowboy and the bad cowboy meet on the dusty road in the center of town, stare at each other for a good 2 minutes, then draw their weapons to see who can shoot the other person first. How do I relate this to launching apps? Simple... it all comes down to speed. You see, if I can launch an app 2 seconds faster than the guy next to me, that means I'm going home 5 minutes earlier than him at the end of the day, while getting the same amount of work done.
Mac OS X makes launching apps quick. And I mean, really quick. There are at least four ways to launch apps in OS X (more, if you really want to geek out). They are (in order from boring to exciting):
- Using the System Dock
- Using Finder
- Using Spotlight
- Using Launchpad
Using the System Dock
Anyone familiar with using a Mac is familiar with the Dock. It's a series of icons representing applications loaded on your system. To add an application to the Dock, simply locate the app in Finder (Applications), drag it to the location on the Dock where you want it to live, and voila! You can now launch your apps from the Dock.
It's virtually impossible for you to create an alias for all your applications on your Dock for quick launching (unless you have very little installed on your system). I usually have my top 10 favorites on my Dock (see above). For everything else, they can be found (and executed) from Finder. Simply open Finder, then click on the Applications folder on the left pane.
Spotlight is also a great (and very fast) was to launch applications on your Mac. To invoke Spotlight, simply click on the small magnifying glass in the top right-hand corner of your screen, then begin typing the name of the application you want to run. When it shows up in your list, press <enter> (if it's the top hit) or click on the application to open it. Not fast enough? Try using Command + Spacebar to invoke Spotlight instead. You'll be launching apps in no time!
I'm saving the best for last. Laucnhpad (introduced with OS X Lion) is an iOS-like way to organize your apps. Some like it, and some hate it. You certainly don't have to use it. I, in fact, didn't like it at first. It took me about 9 months before I really found myself wanting to use it. Now, it's how I launch my apps 95% of the time. What I like about Launchpad is the ability to organize my apps in a very graphical, logical and organized way. Here's how I have my Launchpad configured:
Everything has its place, and everything is in its place. To invoke Launchpad, you can either open the Launchpad app from the Dock, from Finder > Applications, using Spotlight or using a trackpad gesture (to enable, go to Settings > Trackpad and turn on the Launchpad gesture option). To organize your apps, simply drag and drop them in the order you want them in. To create folders, drag an application icon on top of another, and a new folder will be created for you.
Once you have Launchpad set up the way you want it, there are two ways to open an app:
- by simply browsing to the app you want to launch
- by searching for the app in the search field located at the top
Here's a short video showing you how the search feature works. Don't blink... you may miss it (yeah, it's that fast).