Launchy is described on it’s home page as follows:

Launchy is a free windows and linux utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager.

Launchy indexes the programs in your start menu and can launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes!

This is an absolutely spot on introduction to the application because, as that advert keeps telling us, “it does exactly what it says on the tin!”

I’ve been using Launchy for a long time now, on both my home PC and the ones I use at work, and it has become my automatic first choice when I want to launch anything from a command prompt to a word processor.

With a few key presses I can be launching an application much more quickly than by using the traditional Windows Start button, All Program Files, etc. route. The index within Launchy responds very quickly and provides a list of options matching your first couple of key presses. If you’ve already used Launchy a few times then it recognises previously used application entries very quickly and will display your most commonly used application beginning with “c” (for instance) very quickly.

Launchy is very configurable, allowing you to select your own shortcut key combination to launch it. You can centre it, make it opaque, fade it in and out, skin it, specify the types of items to be catalogued for launching and you can enhance it with plug-ins. That said, I haven’t really made much use of the plug-ins that are available but there’s a great collection of skins available both from the Launchy Forum and from deviantART.

When I first started using Launchy I had doubts about how responsive a keyboard-based application launcher would be as I’d only used point-and-click toolbar style launchers in the past. Now that approach is a thing of the past because Launchy has been such a revelation.

Unlike those point-and-click types, Launchy is completely unobtrusive if set to activate by a keyboard shortcut – it doesn’t use much memory and pops up instantly when activated. It also disappears instantly when you’re done with it or if you move focus away from it, unless you’ve set the rather cool fade out option.

As if all that isn’t enough, it is also portable and can be run from a USB stick!

I suggest you download it from and give it a try. Immediately.

This is the last in a series of re-posts from my old The Free Software Files blog. From this point on, any posts about free and/or open source software will be all new – starting with one about a superb music manager that I’ve taken to using lately, MusicBee. Expect to see that one appear some time in the next few days.


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