The desktop launcher applications include various utilities to quickly manage and access your favorite programs such as file shortcut software and application docks.
Launchy is an easy-to-use app launcher available for Windows 10 as well as macOS and Linux. This Windows App Launcher is more like the spotlight feature on macOS rather than the dock or the start menu where you can pin apps. It is also similar to the spotlight in functionality. Using Launchy, you can not only quickly launch apps but also search and open files, folders, and even websites. The program is available for free in both installable and portable versions. If you like it and want to support development, you can also pay what you like.
Pros of this desktop launcher application:
Cons of this desktop launcher application:
The Winstep Nexus Dock is a free Windows dock application that provides fast access to your most frequently used applications, with flexible options allowing it to dock or float anywhere on the screen. Every feature you would expect from a dock and then more, including widgets, many different mouse-over effects, skins, drag-and-drop, ability to display running applications and the system tray, Windows 7 "superbar" ability with Aeropeek, live icon reflections and support for Windows Aero Glass effects.
The Winstep Nexus Dock is a free alternative to the standard Windows desktop, and it can add character to your user experience.
Pros of this Windows launcher application:
Cons of this Windows launcher application:
If you think that the Windows user interface is dull and you want to try something different, the Nexus Dock is worth a look. It may also be useful for Mac users who are transitioning to Windows or who must use Windows at work.
LogonStudio is a free program that allows users to change their Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 logon screens. It comes with several logon screens to choose from, along with thousands that are available online from Web sites, such as WinCustomize.com. It also includes an editor for creating your own logon screen.
Longing for some change in your life? Why not start with that boring old Windows XP logon screen? With the freeware LogonStudio, choosing another screen is a matter of two clicks. Alternately, you can design your own with a built-in editor.
The first option is a lot easier. About 30 cool screens are available on the WinCustomize site, and the program can randomly select one on every boot. Editing is less straightforward. You build or modify logon screens by tweaking parameters on a lengthy list of elements. So you might, for instance, change the FirstColor parameter of the Centre Panel element to a new shade of blue. This allows you to customize everything from background to letterings to buttons, but beginners will find the process quite confusing. The sketchy online help isn't much assistance, either.
LogonStudio is best for users familiar with programming languages such as Visual Basic, whose development tools use a similar interface.
The Executor is a simple app launcher that occupies around 1MB of space. This tiny app occupying less space brings in a lot of features. Once you install, Executor will show up the list of recently accessed files, indexes all the installed programs, menu entries and a lot more. Perched on the taskbar, you need to simply click on it and type the name of the app you want to open. The executor opens the app in less than no time. Also, it works perfectly with URLs, so if you want to access a certain website, all you need to do is enter its address, and there you have your desired site opened at the default browser in a trice.
Executor allows you to assign a keyword to a program so that the next time you want to open the same file just type in the keyword instead of a full name. You can also perform functions like revealing clipboard history and shutting down the system with app keywords. The app launcher lets you arrange keywords into groups. This is a perfect alternative to a Windows default search engine. You can also customize Executor with layouts and skins.
SlickRun is a 32-bit floating command-line utility for Windows. Occupying less than 1.5% of an 800x600 display, SlickRun gives you almost instant access to any program on your computer. SlickRun allows you to create command aliases, so Enter a web URL into SlickRun and it will launch your browser and navigate to the specified address. Jot a note, look up a definition. SlickRun does it all.
Sometimes we get so used to doing things a certain way--finding a program in the Start menu, or opening our Web browser and entering a Web address--that it doesn't even occur to us that there might be a quicker, easier way to do things. SlickRun is a tiny little utility that can launch programs, open Web sites, record notes, and much more, all from one unobtrusive little bar that you can position anywhere on your screen.
When not in use, SlickRun displays current memory usage and the date and time. Clicking on it turns it into a text box, and typing HELP here brings up an online Help file that explains SlickRun's features.
The program makes use of what it refers to as MagicWords, which are keywords that can be programmed to perform any number of actions. There are a variety of preset MagicWords, which can launch programs, open particular Web sites, and carry out other tasks, and users can easily create new ones. You can also create sets of actions; the "morning" MagicWord, for example, can open your e-mail, your favorite news site, and anything else you like to check first thing in the morning. SlickRun also has a Jot feature that lets you drag and drop text from any program for easy saving.
SlickRun does a lot of different things, and users should plan to spend some time reviewing the instructions and experimenting with its features. But at its heart, the program is extremely easy to use and can be a tremendous time-saver. We recommend it.
XWindows Dock takes the Mac launcher toolbar as the model and is compatible both with Windows and Mac OS. This dock is quite complicated to use initially but provides you with tremendous customization options, unlike the other docks. While like in other docks you can easily add shortcuts for easy access, the X Window docks provide you with some extraordinary graphical effect options like transparency, blur, shadow, reflections and many more. The dock supports a new stack container to add some plugins with grid /fan views. Some options available in the Apple tool are also present in XWindows Dock.
Find and Run Robot is a program for keyboard maniacs. It helps you rapidly find programs or documents from within the depths of the start menu (or other directories). One key press launches the utility, and then just starts typing the first letters of the application you want to launch. As you type the best matches are shown, just hit the number to launch the associated program.
Find and Run Robot also lets you quickly run web searches, send email, manipulate files, and control on-screen windows. Build and share custom commands or install plugins to add tons of new features, like live search features for your clipboard history and your internet bookmarks.
Small and swift, Find and Run Robot makes searching files and launching programs go faster than a Black Friday deal. Also known as FARR, the program is great for those who love options. If you're the indecisive type, you may want to stay clear.
Running in your system tray, FARR is innocuous and uses little RAM. Hit the Pause/Break key to bring up the launching window; as you type, FARR narrows down your choices. In that sense, FARR functions like many other launchers. Search results are numbered and automatically sorted using built-in scoring systems unique to the program. If you want returned-result number nine, for example, simply type ALT+9 and hit enter--there's no need to touch the mouse or continue typing a longer string. A Launch History tab keeps track of what you've launched.
While the launching and searching functions are fairly basic, the options are almost overwhelming. Users can do nearly anything with the app, from adjusting the font size, style, and color to monitoring your clipboard, taking basic screen captures, Web searches, customizing hotkeys, and calculation functions. FARR is also fully portable, making this a must-have whether you're on a desktop or a laptop.
Keybreeze Desktop is a small, command-line toolbar that's only visible when you are using it. Press a hotkey on your keyboard to activate it. Then type a few letters on your keyboard to open files, folders, and websites, search your computer for files, search within files, search websites, paste the custom text into text fields, keep windows on top of other windows, perform multiline calculations, automate mouse clicks and keystrokes, access clipboard history, create sticky notes and set reminders, and more.
RocketDock is a smoothly animated, alpha blended application launcher. It provides a nice clean interface to drop shortcuts on for easy access and organization. Now with added Taskbar support your minimized windows can appear as icons on the dock. This allows for better productivity and accessibility.
Features: Minimize windows to the dock. Real-time window previews in Vista. Running application indicators. Simple drag-n-drop interface. Multi-monitor support. Supports alpha-blended PNG and ICO icons. Icons zoom and transition smoothly. Auto-hide and Popup on mouseover. Positioning and layering options. Fully customizable. Completely Portable. ObjectDock Docket support. Compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher, and Y'z Dock skins. Runs great on slower computers. Unicode compliant.
Where most other docks fail, RocketDock soars. The Mac-style program dock and launcher for Windows 2000, XP, and Vista has it all, from a smooth installation to flawless icon transitions and an unobtrusive footprint.
The app is loaded with options. The dock can live on any of the four edges of your monitor, you can set it to always be on top, on bottom, autohide, or be ever-present. It comes with more than 20 skins; fonts and colors are fully customizable, as is the icon order; and you can choose which icons are displayed, independent of the program's actual icon. RocketDock's publisher is also growing a community around the program, and the app's Web site has areas where you can download more icons, widgets, and skins to enhance and further customize your experience.
One drawback of the program is that the main settings menu is not where you go to add in and configure these extras. Instead, they're accessible from a secondary settings menu available only by right-clicking on the dock itself. It's frustrating, but not a major problem, and hopefully can be addressed in future updates.