Launching applications

Opening programs from the Start – All Programs menu is painful. For many years, I relied on the quick launch bar.


But it’s space constrained. There are only so many applications you can place there. I want space enough for frequently used documents as well. Recently, I decided that I need all the space on the screen. So my task bar is on auto hide, and that makes the quick launch bar a little tougher to use as well. And finally, I can’t use the quick launch bar with the keyboard. That’s important.

So I switched to the pinned menus on the Start Menu.


This works better with the keyboard. I access Word, I just type the Ctrl-Esc, W. Excel: Ctrl-Esc, E. But I run short of letters soon. I have trouble between Powerpoint and processing, for instance. And I can’t store documents.

I tried Enso Launcher and Launchy, both of which are great products, but I just can’t stand the thought of them hogging up all the memory that they do. Launchy in particular.

Given that I almost always have one or two command prompts open, I write my own little tool to do the job now. It’s a command line launcher I’ve written in Perl. I call it “o”. At the first run, it indexes my hard disk. (Well, not all of it. I’ve picked what I need.) Now, if I want to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I just type:

> o harry potter hallows

If I wanted to pick a Harry Potter book, I could:

> o harry potter
    0: D:/Entertainment/Books/Hugo Awards/2001 - J K Rowling - Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire.rar
    1: D:/Entertainment/Books/J K Rowling.1.Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone.pdf
    2: D:/Entertainment/Books/J K Rowling.2.Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets.pdf
    3: D:/Entertainment/Books/J K Rowling.3.Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban.pdf
    4: D:/Entertainment/Books/J K Rowling.4.Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.doc
    5: D:/Entertainment/Books/J K Rowling.5.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.pdf
    6: D:/Entertainment/Books/J K Rowling.6.Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.pdf
    7: D:/Entertainment/Books/J K Rowling.7.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.pdf
    8: D:/Entertainment/Books/J K Rowling.The Harry Potter Encyclopedia.doc
    9: D:/My Pictures/2005-06 London/2005-07-16 06 Waterstones Oxford Street Harry Potter release.JPG
    ... more
> (0-9, q, any word): prince
D:/Entertainment/Books/J K Rowling.6.Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.pdf

The program lists the files matching the words I typed, and lets me filter within that.

I just wrote this yesterday, and already, I’ve used it dozens of times. Here’s the source.

PS: While I was at it, I downloaded a Flickr uploader for Perl. So I can now upload images with the command line. This easily saves me at least 5 minutes per article.

  1. Karthik A says:

    Oc here
    I got equally bugged long back and wrote a python program called fo (folder opener 😉

    Here it is – crude but worked pretty well
    ## @setlocal enableextensions & python -x %~f0 %* & goto :EOF
    import os
    import ConfigParser
    import sys

    CONFIGFILENAME = “config.ini”
    CONFIGFILENAME1 = “config1.ini”
    cleanInp = ”
    scuth = {}

    ## Load all the config file details in a hash
    cfgFile = ConfigParser.ConfigParser()
    cfgFileFP = open(CONFIGFILENAME,’r+’)

    scuts = cfgFile.items(“shortcuts”)

    ## load into a dictionary
    for (x,y) in scuts:

    print “””Folder and file rapid opener (FO)
    Ctrl-Alt-C – to start
    @shortcut,path – to add a shortcut
    x – exit

    while cleanInp != ‘x’:
    inp = raw_input(“Your wish Master!:”)
    cleanInp = inp.strip()
    if cleanInp.find(‘@’) == -1:
    tmp = cleanInp.split(“@”)[1]
    tmp1 = tmp.split(“,”)
    cfgFile.set(“shortcuts”,tmp1[0], tmp1[1])

  2. Sathish says:


    Did you try slickrun.. It is extremely slick..

  3. S Anand says:

    @OC: Hey, didn’t realise you were into python. Neat!

    @Sathish: How much memory does Slickrun use up? Given some of the apps I’m running on my 1GB laptop, I’m having to count each byte!

  4. oracle says:

    The method I use:

    enable google desktop by ctrl-ctrl

    in the search bar first few alphabets of the app..invariably it shows me the app i need.

  5. Saurabh says:

    I used to use Launchy before switching to Mac an year book and have been using QuickSilver since then. Dont use the Apple Spotlight, neither the Google Desktop thing..QS does all the work – launching apps, searching for files and quickly accessing them, a nice article abt a great QS trick (for Mac users) here :

    BTW seems to be interesting, plan to check it out soon!


  6. S Anand says:

    @Sathish: 7MB is not too bad. Launchy was taking up over 25MB in my case.