Spotlight alternatives – best launchers for Mac

SpotlightLet me tell you a little secret. I’m addicted to Spotlight. In fact I simply can’t imagine living without it. Well, actually I can. I remember having to open up the Finder and browse through my folders for what I wanted or using the slow search box in Panther. Spotlight is great: a quick CMD+space bar, start typing the name of your file, press enter and it’s there in seconds. You never have to go through your applications folder again.

As many Mac users will know though, Spotlight type programs, specific to applications, existed before Apple released the desktop search. Some features of Spotlight even mysteriously resemble some of them. Anyways most of these apps are still excellent and work great to launch your favorite program. Take a look and see if there’s one you might like:

  • Sapiens – Smart launcher which learns which programs you use most. You’ll get used to the mnemonic way it displays programs on its circular interface for fast launching.
  • ExpressLauncher – In this one I really enjoy the interface, however to be honest it’s essentially a preferences pane item that associates keys with apps.
  • Docktop – This one is like a new and improved Dock that you can customize at will. It can be cloned and moved anywhere on your screen so you have different docks for different needs.
  • Snard – Nostalgic of the good old file explorer view? Snard makes it available straight from your menu bar, so any app is only a few mouse movements away.
  • Quicksilver – Before Spotlight turned up, Quicksilver was the most cherished app of Mac geeks the world around. A powerful and fast multi-app launcher with keystroke support.
  • Valet – Like Bruce Wayne, imagine you had Alfred around to remember everything you needed and launched on your Mac. This is what Valet will do for you (it won’t get you a Batmobile though)
  • Todos – This app is the ancestor of Leopard’s grid view. Type a hotkey and Todos will bring up a full grid of all your applications for you.
  • Namely – Like Spotlight but want to limit it to apps? You can configure it from the preferences. Or you can install Namely. Less hassle.
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