I love efficiency and hate doing anything the slow way. That’s why I also love apps that add efficiency and books that help me use those apps better.
Here’s an example: if I want to open an app on my Mac I type Command Space, then a few letters of the name of the app. So: I type
Command Space Bej to open Bejeweled. The same process works for files, folders and contacts in my address book, thanks to one of my essential apps, LaunchBar.
I also use LaunchBar’s multiple clipboard utility to save and paste copied items, and a quick
Command Space 12*73 will net me
876 in a jiffy, thanks to its calculator.
I’ve been using LaunchBar for years and years and years — it’s so useful with these features that I name it as one of my top 3 apps.
But I do have a guilty secret: I know it can do so much more. I’ve just never invested the time and energy in learning how to do those other things. Somehow those 3 things alone were enough and I plateaued rather than setting myself to learn what else it could do.
LaunchBar 5 streamlines the way you access apps, open files, browse your file system, use the Web, copy and paste, insert text, access data from certain applications, run calculations, control iTunes, handle file management, control your Mac, and more.
Join Mac expert Kirk McElhearn, and learn how to use LaunchBar to carry out nearly any Mac task more efficiently. To help you develop a mental map of all that LaunchBar can do, Kirk explains LaunchBar in the context of its five superpowers ….
- Abbreviation search. …
- Browsing. …
- Sub-search. …
- Send To. …
- Instant Send. …
I guess the word
superpowers there really hooked me in. I was using the power of the app, but its superpowers were what could really make a difference to my daily work.
A super handy Cheat Sheet
I started with the free Cheat Sheet that comes with the book. Immediately I learned (and tried out) several new techniques that could have been saving me time all along, such as holding down the last letter for instant open and the keystroke to call up recent actions.
Of course, I stupidly tried out Instant Open on the game Bejeweled, one of the few games I play, and then had to play at least one game since it was already open …
Read, practice, learn
Then I ran into problems. You see, with some of the books I review I actually already know the topic fairly well, or some chapters may not interest me specially. For example, I don’t use Apple’s Mail app so I’d skip chapters on that topic.
But with Launchbar I really wanted to learn everything I could from this book, and for me that means practicing as I read. That made the book slow going.
I have a confession here: I decided to go ahead and review the book without having read the whole thing. I’ve had health issues and just daily life get in the way of finishing the book. Because it has so much incredibly useful content I want to practice, practice, practice as I read. In the interests of publishing this review in this decade I decided to review the book unfinished.
From powers to superpowers
The book is chock full of intensely useful techniques, even the apparently simple, such as moving the bar to the bottom of the screen. I’d always had mine at the top, below the menu bar, where it would sometimes interfere with what I was doing. Now it resides at bottom right.
For some time one of the files I use almost daily had somehow ‘got lost’. It stubbornly refused to come up when I typed the abbreviation I’d been using for ages. I’m still not sure why, but thanks to the information about custom abbreviations that problem is now solved.
Instant Open. If I’d read this book years ago I would have been using this technique all along. It’s tiny. It saves a keystroke and maybe a fraction of a second. But over the years those fractions of a second add up remarkably.
In Launchbar’s own materials I’d noticed a feature called
Instant Send but had never really grasped its possibilities. Now, thanks to pages 42–44 I can understand what it is and how using it will save me plenty of time. For example, after selecting an item in the Finder I can use just a couple of keystrokes to open my email app, address the email to someone in my Contacts and attach the file. That’s the kind of thing that would normally involve a lot of clicking around.
Launchbar is invaluable
Sometimes I have to do something on someone else’s Mac and usually it drives me crazy within moments. Launchbar is so embedded in my brain that I automatically type
Command Space and a few letters to call up an app. But there it isn’t. Instead Spotlight opens with a bunch of results that may or may not include what I need.
Take Control of LaunchBar takes that useful app and gives you the power to make it not just fly but to do aerobatics.
As I wrote earlier, I haven’t yet finished reading and embedding the many techniques in my daily work. The sole reason though is that the book is so useful and so powerful I need to give it time and practice.
If you don’t use Launchbar, yet have any interest at all in efficiency, then you should go get it now and try it out for free. Then if you decide to buy (as you should) they’ll give you a copy of the ebook for free. I don’t know how long that special offer lasts, but you can’t go wrong.
Then assign yourself a couple of pages per day of the book for reading and practice. The time you spend will pay for itself many times over.
Take Control of LaunchBar by Kirk McElhearn. Version 1.0, Published: 07 July 2013, 127 pages. It is available as an ebook for US$10. ISBN: 9781615424238.