LaunchBar: The beauty of user-centric design

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
January 1st, 2004 • 6:47 am

LaunchBar is the kind of utility that can be hard to describe. It’s deceptively simple, and is in fact quite powerful.

At its core, however, the fundamental beauty of the application is that it promotes user-centric computing rather than application-centric computing. When you are sitting in front of your computer and decide that you want to visit the Amazon online store, for example, you simply should not have to first switch to the Safari application (or your browser of choice). You should be able to simply tell the computer that you want to go to, and let it figure out which application is required to do this.

With LaunchBar, it’s exactly what happens. Regardless of the application you are currently using, you invoke LaunchBar by using a special keyboard shortcut (I use cmd-Escape) and then you type the first few letters “Amaz”. As soon as you’ve typed enough letters to provide a decent match, LaunchBar narrows the list of possible destinations to an acceptably small number. You might have an Address Book entry called “Amazon Service” for the <> email address, a Safari bookmark for <>.

LaunchBar is smart enough to know which of the two you invoke most often and list the possible matches in decreasing order of relevance. If the match is a Safari bookmark, then it opens a new window in Safari (or your browser of choice) and loads the site. If the match is an email address, then it creates a new message in Mail (or your email client of choice) and puts the address in the “To:” field. Etc.

In other words, you first say what you want to do, and then LaunchBar switches you to the required application and automatically does what it takes. It can be summarized in a very simple formula: destination then application vs. application then destination.

And that’s the simple beauty of user-centric design.

One Response to “LaunchBar: The beauty of user-centric design”

  1. Seth Dimbert says:

    I agree completely… LaunchBar is a *must have* for OS X, the OS in which you need to return to the Finder to launch Applications. I tried some “app launchers” then I tried putting an alias of my Applications Folder onto the Dock. For some reason, I’m only allowed to put it on the right side of the Dock, which means that, as I drill down into sub-folders, I run out of space on my 12″ PB screen.

    Then I found LaunchBar. It’s the first thing I install on new machines. It’s awesome.

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