Using The Mac OS Launcher


The Mac OS Launcher was originally introduced with the original Macintosh Performas back in the early '90s, as a sort of idiot-proof launching pad for applications, with big, Fisher-Price-esque, single click buttons.

With System 7.5: the Launcher became a standard Mac OS feature, and System 7.5.1 introduced several Launcher enhancements, such as multiple pages, and drag & drop icon installation.

Personally, I find the Launcher bigger and clunkier than I would prefer (the Mac OS X Dock is a definite improvement in this context), and I have devised my own, much simpler, Launcher substitute, which I will get to in a moment, but first the standard Launcher.

The way the Launcher works is that any item you drag into the Launcher window (actually alias of an item), or into the Launcher Items Folder in the System Folder , appears as an alias in the Launcher window in the form of a button. Mercifully, you can now adjust the size of the Launcher buttons down to more reasonable dimensions. You can change button sizes using a submenu, or by Command clicking in the Launcher window. Single clicking a button opens the correspondent application, utility, folder, AppleScript, or document represented.

To create a new topic page in the Launcher whose button will appear at the top of the Launcher window, add a subfolder in the Launcher Items Folder with a bullet (•) preceding its name. The Launcher will display up to eight topic buttons, which you can use to organize different categories of buttons such as applications, utilities, control panels, and so on. You can drag items directly to a topic button in order to add them to the corresponding page.

To remove a button, Option drag it to the Trash. For a shortcut into a topic subfolder, just Option-click any of its item buttons. If you want the Launcher to appear at each startup, click "Show Launcher at system startup" in the Launcher Control Panel.

My preferred alternative to the Launcher, which works with the Classic Mac OS 8 or later, is to just create a standard folder in the Finder, and name it Launcher, drag in aliases of anything I want to appear in it, configure them to appear as small buttons using the View Menu and View Options, and then make this folder a pop-up folder that lives at the bottom of the Desktop, ready to spring open with a mouse click, and automatically collapse into a tab when I finish making the selection. It doesn't have the organizational features of the real Mac OS Launcher, but it works for me. To each his own.

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