December 26, 2007 at 1:14 PM by Dr. Drang
I’ve been using QuickSilver since Merlin Mann started posting about it, and I’d never really considered any alternative. I’m sure I’d heard of LaunchBar, but—unlike the Dock alternative, DragThing, and the Finder alternative, PathFinder—I’d never downloaded and tried it out. But after this famous downer of an interview with Nicholas Jitkoff (Alcor), I decided I needed to get familiar with LaunchBar.
Overall, I’m impressed. LaunchBar is fast. Where QS often takes its own sweet time responding to my keystrokes, LB has always popped up right away. It also seems to use less memory than QS. So far, it’s been more stable, too, but that may not be a fair assessment; although I’ve been having more problems with QS since upgrading to Leopard, QS has often gone weeks without crashing or requiring a restart.
LaunchBar’s lack of triggers (hotkeys for actions) is a worry, but it may not be a showstopper. Although I’ve defined a half-dozen or so triggers in QS, the only ones I use regularly are those that play/pause iTunes and Pandora and change the star ratings of the current iTunes track. Since these triggers are simply AppleScript launchers, I can use FastScripts or just FastScripts Lite instead of QS.
One thing I’ve noticed about LaunchBar that bothers me is that it doesn’t necessarily go away after running an AppleScript. While writing this post, for example, I’ve called on LaunchBar several time to run my
furl.scpt script that grabs the URL of the current Safari page and puts it on the Clipboard. Instead of immediately fading to the background after running the script—as QuickSilver does—LaunchBar remains in the foreground, and I have to dismiss it by pressing the Escape key. Maybe there’s some setting I can adjust to change that behavior.
I think Objective Development should loosen the restrictions on the “try before you buy” download of LaunchBar. A utility like this is meant to be used heavily, and an unregistered copy of LB starts putting up a nag screen well before you can give it a proper workout. Still, I think they’ll be getting my money shortly.