Searched for : launchy

Lots and lots of people have taken a look at Windows Vista and found it underwhelming. I've been playing around with Vista since beta 1 and basically I took a very cynical stance too. I simply couldn't see Windows Vista brings to the table when compared to Windows XP. Sure the Aero glass interface is pretty, sure Windows Vista brings a lot of new stuff beneath the covers but why should the average consumer really care about stuff you only get to see if you're a developer?

Having had a chance to use the final version of Windows Vista since the release to MSDN in November on my primary machine at home I can now finally point to a number of features which are sure to impress and increase productivity. As hinted they are not immediately obvious to new users of the OS which is something I hope to remedy with a series of articles starting with the single most important feature as seen from an end user perspective: Search.

We've had desktop search around for some time so what makes the Windows Vista desktop search so different that I would actually sit down and do an article about it? As it turns out having search deeply integrated in the shell makes all the difference in the world. I've given Google Desktop, Windows Desktop Search, and Copernic Desktop Search multiple tries but they've never stuck. Of the three Copernic stayed on my system the longest but ultimately it had to go too. The main reason was that they simply needn't allow me to access my stuff faster than I was able to without all the "help". Out they went and I never looked back. One desktop search-like program which actually stuck was Launchy which I've raved about a number of times on this blog. Launchy makes me more efficient in that it allows me to launch programs much quicker than I would normally be able to.

Search from the Start Menu

It would seem that Microsoft found this to be a good idea also as they've gone ahead and implemented the same functionality in Windows Vista. They've actually done one better than that and enhanced the experience to make a remarkably nice keyboard driven interface.

Take a look at the screenshot below and notice the "Start Search" box at the bottom of the start menu. Yes, search is integrated right into the start menu and provides easy access for every single aspect of the start menu. When you popup the start menu the field has focus and you just start typing to start the search. The results are refined as you type.

Want to launch Firefox? Just type start typing "firefox" in the search box and look what happens. What the screenshot doesn't convey is the speed of this thing. It's lightning fast; you literally type firefox, push enter, and up comes Firefox. No waiting at all.

Now what if you had a particular web site in mind? You can actually just launch a URL directly from the start menu. No need to go through the process of opening the browser and typing the URL. Just enter the URL in the start menu and watch your default browser pop up with the URL you just specified. Don't let the Favorites and History heading fool you any URL will do. Speaking of Favorites and History. You can access that too. Yes I do spend way too much on Digg.com :)

Search from Windows Explorer

Another cool thing is the ability to search from anywhere in the system using Windows Explorer. Notice the search box at the top right corner of the Explorer window? That box is pretty much omni-present in Windows Vista. Open Explorer it's there, open Control Panel, it's there. Open Printers, it's... well you get the idea. Everything is driven by Windows Explorer like in Windows XP which is why you get the search capability anywhere. It works much like the start menu: Stat typing and the contents are filtered accordingly. Also you get the ability to search current folder and subfolders in one go. Don't worry if you like the old behavior where focus moves according to what you enter you can simply turn off the "search when you type" feature. Also searches can be saved as virtual folders making for some interesting use cases.

Vanilla Desktop Search

Windows Vista has got something for those who likes the standard desktop search experience. We're all familiar with the search window which provides access to the standard search packages. You basically get that too although I can't really see why you would want to use it with the rich integration provided by the previous two features I described. Click the Search item on the start menu and you get the search window.

There you go. The Windows Vista search capability is truly the killer feature of the OS seen from an end-user perspective in that it provides easy access to files for people not too comfortable with using computers and it provides quick access to programs, files, and settings for those of us who know our way around the computer. Integrated search is the one feature I miss when I sit down with a Windows XP computer as the habit of pushing the Windows key and entering the name of the program I want is already pretty much down.

 

posted on Monday, 22 January 2007 21:26:04 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback

Great productivity booster.

I found a neat little feature in Launchy today: Directories. Basically Launchy allows me to index folders around my hard drive. I connect to a lot of Remote Desktops every day thus I’ve put the feature to good use by creating a folder with all my Remote Desktop connections so I just need to type the name of the machine I need to connect to and boom I’m there.

Next I think I need to create a folder with shortcuts to actual folders I access a lot such as documents, Visual Studio Projects, and so on.

posted on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 10:10:54 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback

Inspired by Scott Hanselman I bring you my own list of software I absolutely positively cannot live without. This list of software has taken years to compile: I didn’t start out with a list of software as a goal, I simply needed to get a job done. Every single time I need to get a new job done I go out and select the top ten pieces of software which solve a given problem. This list is narrowed down until I’m left with a single piece which will go into my tool box. I refine my tool box continually but some of the piece of software has lived in my tool box for many years, EditPlus is one such piece of software, WinRAR is another. Some categories are left out entirely as time moves on, examples of these would be FTP and IRC which I used religiously previously but have no need for recently.

My quest for an ever increasing level of quality in my tool box has even taken me so far as to consider an different platform than Windows altogether. I’ve yet to explore the Apple platform but I do find that some very interesting pieces of software live on that particular platform. Maybe in the future, for now I’m bound to the Windows platform.

Usability

Launchy
Launchy
Provides fast access to your start menu by popping up a window in which you type the name or part of the name of the program you wish to launch. No need to click on the start menu ever again. My thoughts on Launchy.

TweakUI
Powertoys
Allows for customization of a lot of Windows XP settings. I primarily use this tool to change the location of the “My” folders pointing to locations outside of the Documents and Settings folder in order to facilitate easy backup and faster access. I usually keep my folders on a separate drive than the Windows drive in a folder called Users. Also I point the My Documents folder to the root of my user folder instead of the documents folder which gives me quick access to all my files from the start menu,

Office

Firefox

Firefox-logo

Firefox needs no further introduction. I debated long and hard whether to include it or not. Since I use this browser pretty intensively I figured that I’d better put it on my list as it is usually the first piece of software to get installed. I like Internet Explorer 7 and I think that the user interface of that particular browser is better than what we get with Firefox, but Firefox brings lots and lots of plugins to the table which enables us to customize to our heart’s content. Specifically I enjoy TabMix Plus as it allows me to configure my tabs exactly the way I want them.

FeedDemon 2

FeedDemonLogo

The easy-to-use interface makes it a snap to stay informed with the latest news and information. You can completely customize the way feeds are organized and displayed and set up custom news watches based on keywords. You can even download podcasts and audio files and have them show up on your portable audio device. In addition, FeedDemon now synchronizes with NewsGator Online and the rest of the NewsGator RSS Suite. The software is pre-configured with dozens of feeds, so you can unleash the power of RSS right away. My thoughts on FeedDemon 2.

FeedDemon 2 replaces Omea Reader as my RSS reader recommendation due to persisting bugs in the Omea product.

BlogJet

Bjlogo4

BlogJet is a weblog client for Windows that allows you to manage your blog(s) without opening a browser. Those who are seriously concerned with blogging, cannot imagine their work without using this wonderful tool with elegant interface.

EditPlus
Editplus
Notepad replacement supporting multiple documents in the same window. Automatically colors code with support for many languages.

FoxItPdfReader
FoxItReader
A faster less cluttered PDF reader.

Nero 6

Nero6logo

For burning CDROMs and DVDs. I’m not too fond of the latest version of this software so I may end up finding something better. If you have a suggestion please feel free to mail it me.

PureText

PureText is basically equivalent to opening Notepad, doing a PASTE, followed by a SELECT-ALL, and then a COPY.  The benefit of PureText is performing all these actions with a single Hot-Key and having the result pasted into the current window automatically. I use this tool all the time when copying snippets from sources around the web.

Programming

WinMerge
Winmerge
A visual text file differencing and merging tool. It is highly useful for determining what has changed between project versions, and then merging changes between versions.

Resharper
Resharper
JetBrains ReSharper is a Visual Studio .NET add-in that brings intelligent C# code editing and coding assistance features to VS.NET. By intelligent features we mean usage search, powerful refactorings, smart type completion, using assistant and more. In brief, ReSharper truly understands C# code. My thoughts on Resharper.

Consolas Font
The Microsoft Consolas Font Family is a set of highly legible fonts designed for ClearType. It is intended for use in programming environments and other circumstances where a monospaced font is specified. This installation package will set the default font for Visual Studio to Consolas. My thoughts on the Consolas Font.

CopySourceAsHTML
An add-in for Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 that allows you to copy source code, syntax highlighting, and line numbers as HTML. CSAH uses Visual Studio's syntax highlighting and font and color settings automatically. If Visual Studio can highlight it, CSAH can copy it, and your source should look the same in your browser as it does in your editor.

Cool Commands for Visual Studio 2005
Adds a couple of useful features to Visual Studio 2005: Open Containing Folder for Files,Copy Reference, Add Projects from Folder are the ones I use the most. My thoughts on Cool Commands.

Imaging

Paint.NET
Paintnetlogo
An image and photo manipulation software It supports layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. Covers the basic image editing needs. My thoughts on Paint.NET.

Picasa
Picasa
Picasa is a photo management tool from Google which provides a very nice interface for browsing your photos. Also includes basic photo editing tools such as red eye removal.

Cropper
Cropper
Cropper is a screen capture utility. It makes it fast and easy to grab parts of your screen. Use it to easily crop out sections of vector graphic files such as Fireworks without having to flatten the files or open in a new editor. Use it to easily capture parts of a web site, including text and images. It's also great for writing documentation that needs images of your application or web site. My thoughts on Cropper.

GetCanon!
Image downloader for Canon digital cameras. It's small, quick and simple. It can download images, rotate them automatically and delete them from camera. If you hate the "designer" interface of Canon utilities and hate Windows messing with image filenames, this is the right tool for you.

Music

iTunes
Itunes
iTunes doesn’t really need an introduction. I use this guy because of the very nice integration with the iPod and the sleek podcasting support.

AirFoil
Airfoil
Send any audio to the AirPort Express. My thoughts on AirFoil.

System

WinRAR

Archiver with support for almost all the archive formats out there. I use this one to avoid having multiple archivers installed and because it integrates nicely into the Windows shell.

Daemon Tools ISO Mounter

DaemonToolsLogo

A tool for mounting ISO images as CDROM drives.

FolderShare

FolderShare

FolderShare is a service that allows you to securely keep files synchronized between your devices, share files with friends or colleagues, and remotely download your files from any web browser. I use this tool for both remote backup and synchronization between work and home.

µTorrent

Bittorrent is becoming a pervasive means of distribution on the internet and this client brings a whole lot of features to the table making it on par with clients such as Azureus and BitComet but at the same time being smaller and more importantly not a Java based piece of software

posted on Sunday, 09 July 2006 15:44:52 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [4] Trackback

Well maybe not exactly but Windows Vista does come with an implementation of Launchy which to me is great news seeing as Launchy is the best thing which has happend since sliced bread

Basically you pop up the startmenu using the WIN key and you’re ready to type just like you are with the Lacunhy shortcut. In previous builds of Windows Vista I didn’t even consider using the feature it was so slow, not so with beta 2. Everything is snappy and happends instantaneously.

I do believe that the startmenu search feature will be my favorite feature of Vista.

Oh yeah, did I mention that Vista is fast on a desktop machine? Stay tuned for more posts about Vista, the next one will probably be about how I lost all my data due to running beta versions of both my OS and Office

posted on Sunday, 18 June 2006 21:42:41 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Launchy2I while back I wrote about Launchy which I described as a command prompt for the start menu. I usually don’t write followups for software I recommend but in this instance I’m making an exception as Launchy is THE best damn piece of software I’ve installed on my computer in a long time and here’s why:

I’ve been trying to make access to my programs faster; the time from thought to launch should literally be less than 2 seconds. So far I’ve tried manually reorganizing the startmenu, using My Documents as base folder for my apps, having programs running in the tray and so forth. All these things have helped marginally but I’ve always felt that something more could be done.

Enter Launchy. If you haven’t already given the application a fair chance please do so. I’m pretty sure that if you give a week or two where you try to incorporate it into the way you work, you’ll see the light  Just think of programs such as Internet Information Services Manager, Computer Management both deeply buried in the Administrative Tools, you can have at them very quickly with Launchy.

I pretty much don’t use the startmenu any more. Just for that rare access to something new I can’t remember the name of. Nothing more. Total bliss.

posted on Tuesday, 30 May 2006 09:47:35 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback

LaunchyBlogJetScott Hanselman turned me on the Launchy with his Replacing Start|Run episode of Hanselminutes (a fantastic podcast BTW). With Launchy installed you basically push a shortcut key which pops up a small text area where you start typing. Launchy will then search your startmenu for that particular piece of text on the fly and present you with a likely match. Pushing enter will then launch the program. Pretty neat.

I brought up BlogJet in a flash via Launchy by typing blog. Think of it as intellisense for your startmenu.

 

posted on Saturday, 13 May 2006 18:25:17 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback