Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Applications Launchers - The Best Free Software of 2009 (PC Magazine version)

The article featuring the best freeware 2009, has been posted at the beginning of the year, January 13, 2209. This seven-months old listing will be still interesting for those, who, as I am, decided to completely replace the paid software and services (whenever possible) with the free alternatives.

As the story says, why pay? You've already shelled out money for a computer, there's no reason that what's running on that pricey PC should cost a darn thing. Not in this day and age of amazing freebie software and Web apps. Last year listing covered 157 free utilities and services, while this year coverage has extended to 173 utilities and services.

For convenience, I will split the listing as per categories, adding my comments whenever I have something to say...

Part 1

Applications Launchers

Application launcher is a simple utility that suppose to improve the ability for computer user to access any programs or files on the computer by simply typing the first few letters of the name or clicking the dock icons of graphic interface. Using suitable application launcher can reduce user time for searching favorite program shortcut that they most frequent use, since they are able to can cut down the step of searching for the application executable file again and again. Some of the utilities offer extended functionalities, widening the spec of the software applicability.

There are four items presented in the PC Magazine list.

1. Circle Dock
OS: Windows

Presentation: Who says a dock has to actually... dock? To the side of the screen, that is. Circle Dock brings up a spiraling launcher interface with all the icons you want to click. Rotate it with the wheel on your mouse and change the skin to suit your desktop.

Overview (My Pick):
Windows application launcher arranges Windows application shortcuts, which you use most often, in circular fashion. The Circle Dock launcher icons arrangement can add or be arrange by dragging them from your desktop or quick launch bar and customize to your heart’s content. Beside that, you can either display your icons in concentric circles, or as a spiral.

What Circle Dock Allows You to Do:
* Launch your programs from a circular dock.
* Drag and drop your files, folders, and shortcuts onto a circular dock that you can resize.
* Rotate the dock with either your mouse wheel or the keyboard arrow keys.
* Change the image shown for the icons and change the skins (compatible with icons and skins for Rocket Dock, Object Dock, etc.)
* The dock appears where your mouse is by pressing a hotkey (default is F1) or your middle mouse button.
* Tested on computers with multiple monitors, Windows XP/Vista, 32-bit & 64-bit, and requires only .Net Framework 2.0.
* Automatically works on all Windows Vista computers and most Windows XP computers.
* A new settings panel that allows you to customize many options. It updates your dock as you make changes. See it change in real time! No need to press an OK button.
* Multi-language capable. Just translate the English.ini file to the language of your choice.
* Change the image used for the dock icons with the easiest method out there: Just set the program to "Icon Replacement Mode" in the right-click menu of the centre icon and you can change all the icon images by just dragging and dropping new PNG images onto them!
* Huge time saver when you are customizing your dock!
* You can now toggle the visibility of the dock by moving your mouse to any edge of your screen. By default, the left and right edges are used for toggling. No need to press a button!
* Reorder the dock items by dragging and dropping them over each other.
* Organize the dock items using dock folders.
* By default, clicking on the centre button does not open the start menu. You can enable this in the settings panel.

Video Presentation:

2. ObjectDock
OS: Windows

Presentation: Replace the Windows Taskbar and Quick Launch toolbar with this Mac-like animated toolbar of icons for all your programs. It comes with a few "docklets" for displaying info like the time, weather, and a Web search form.

Overview: ObjectDock enables you to have more control over how you organize your desktop. Rather than having a bunch of icons on the desktop, these icons can be put into docks. ObjectDock can also be used to replace the Start bar entirely freeing up valuable screen real-estate. With various interaction modes available, you can get the dock availability that's right for how you work.

Fully customizable, super smoothness in zooming, entertaining alternate mouseover effects, libraries full of high-quality images available for use with the program at

Instead of having a cluttered start bar, you have a nice little picture of all your running applications. Shuffling between applications is much quicker, and you can launch the applications you need without wasting time on the start menu.


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3. Launchy

OS: Windows, Linux.

Presentation: "Keystroke launcher" is a fancy way of saying "command line," but if you like to type rather than click for control—a practice that goes well beyond app launching—Launchy is your best choice.

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!
Once Launchy has been started, it hides in the background. You bring it forward by holding the alt key and tapping the space key. You then type in a few keys of the program you are searching for and hit enter once it has been found. You can also make Launchy disappear again by hitting escape or alt+space.

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4. Quicksilver

OS: Mac OS
Presentation: Quicksilver does more from the keyboard than just launch programs. It can act on any item you can find or drag on your Mac. Quicksilver plug-ins add even more functions.
Overview: A unified, extensible interface for working with applications, contacts, music, and other data. When opened, it will create a catalog of applications and some frequently used folders and documents. Activate it, and you can search for and open anything in its catalog instantly. The search is adaptive, so Quicksilver will recognize which items you are searching for based on previous experience. It also supports abbreviations, so you can type entire words, or just fragments of each. When not in use, Quicksilver vanishes, waiting for the next time you summon it.
Quicksilver's greatest strength, however, is not search. Any item you are able to find, drag, or otherwise pull into its universe is endowed with many potential uses. Hitting takes you to the action field, where you can use the same adaptive search to select what you would like to do. Among other things, files can be emailed, copied, compressed. Text can be modified, transmitted between programs, or searched for on the web. Some actions even support an indirect object, so you can send an item to a person, move files to another folder, or open files with a specific application.
Quicksilver can be given the ability to understand the data inside of files, allowing you to work with data in new, faster ways. Plug-ins add both new items and new actions, allowing you to run scripts, send instant messages, dial phone numbers, look up words in a dictionary, queue up songs in iTunes party shuffle, and much, much more.
Frequently used commands can be bound to triggers, giving you the ability to execute them immediately by hitting a hot key or using the mouse on a corner or edge of the screen.


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