An interesting paradox is going on with the Mac these days. OS X is being dumbed down– visually and effectively– to look and function more like iOS on iPhone and iPad. All the while, OS X gets more functionality and interoperability than ever.
A good example of that is what separates the average Mac user from the Mac power user. It’s not just Photoshop or Office, either. In OS X El Capitan, Apple makes it easier to search and find things to do right from the keyboard. Yes, friends and neighbors, Spotlight has come out of the closet and become really, truly, madly, and almost deeply usable.
Searching in El Capitan is actually fun, has more choices and options, and, despite more going on in the pop up window, is easier to use. Typical Apple. And that’s good for users.
Is there anything better?
What you get in a single Mac utility that is merely a keystroke combo away is hundreds of useful features, all intuitively available– from the keyboard. LaunchBar works much like Spotlight, but has more capability.
That includes options to remember your clipboard history, search for files and launch apps with a few abbreviations, browse, check Contacts, setup Calendar events, manage Safari bookmarks, and much more.
LaunchBar makes it child’s play to navigate folders, files, Contacts, bookmarks, recently used items, and move, rename, compress files, and create folders– without leaving the keyboard.
That’s the claim to fame.
Mac power users keep their fingers on the keyboard. Trackpad or Magic Mouse are for neophytes. What if you want to calculate something? That’s built in. How about launching AppleScript utilities (or anything else from Ruby, PLython, PHP, and more)? Can do. Right from the keyboard.
One of my favorite options is the Send To… feature, which works a bit like the sharing panes in iOS, only with more power. Open a file and send it many different ways. Even clipboard items can be combined using ClipMerge.
LaunchBar wouldn’t be a pro-level utility without customization, so the latest version lets you choose between a variety of themes. There’s much to love in this utility because it does so much, improves every year– but it’s not for the faint of heart. If you love the trackpad or mouse and the keyboard scares you, stick with what you know. You’ll save money, but not time.
But if you truly, madly, deeply want to become a Mac power user, LaunchBar cannot be beat. There’s even an extensive Take Control of LaunchBar book by Adam and Tonya Engst.