Looking for a simple, practical launcher? Try Launchbar 4 for Windows


There’s nothing I like more than a good launcher, especially if it is based on an intuitive, practical concept. Which is why I like Launchbar 4.

Launchbar is a free launcher for Windows that lets you start your favorite programs, files, and folders simply by right clicking any of the edges of your screen that you choose. It’s simple, straightforward, and very useful.

We’ve seen a number of launchers for Windows that employ this method (hovering and clicking into any of the four sides of the screen), such as RUNitRunMECoolbarz and (my favorite) HiddenMenu.

I had in fact hoped that  Launchbar is a HiddenMenu clone, because the latter has problems with Windows 7 compatibility and with data loss, but it isn’t quite (unlike Hiddenmenu, Launchbar4 does not support multiple columns and multiple menus on each side of screen), but it is a great program nonetheless.

Launcher 4.0 Screenshot

Setting it up: go into the settings and click the menu tab. Next, you can get your shortcuts into the launcher simply by dragging and dropping them into the Launcher interface, even from the ‘Start’ menu. You can add dividers and either ‘real’ folders from your desktop or virtual folders inside Launchbar that can display cascading menus.

Launcher 4.0 Screenshot2 - settings

The verdict:

A nice launcher, drag and drop shortcuts to add them, practical and useful. You can choose which side of the screen you want the launcher to be active in, and you can make the icons a lot larger and tweak the opacity. The cons? Requires MS .NET Framework 4.5, and does not reconcile a shortcut to the original item, such that if you use a shortcut on the desktop to add an item to the installer, then delete the shortcut, the launcher does not know to find the original.

Here’s a quick wish list: the ability to ‘pin’ it to the desktop and drag shortcuts straight to the launcher, the ability to have different menus for each sides of the screen, the ability to have multiple columns, the option to enable cascading menus for actual Windows folders, the ability to make the icons even smaller.

Get Launchbar 4 here (Windows). Requires MS .NET Framework 4.5 (if the program crashed on launch, then you don’t have it). [Thanks go to reader Panzer for the tip about this program].